A central Whanganui reserve will be renamed as more emphasis is placed on its historical significance.

Whanganui district councillors have voted for Queen's Park to be renamed Pukenamu Queen's Park as the council finalises a 10 year plan for the area.

And mayor Hamish McDouall had a personal analogy for what council was doing.

He had added his mother's maiden name - Sanson - to his own later in life because his Scottish names "didn't any way represent my mother's family who were English".


"It was about acknowledging both parts of the history in one," he said.

Pukenamu Queen's Park was a pā in the 1830s and was the site of the last tribal wars in Whanganui.

It later became the home of the Rutland Stockade and was used by British troops until 1870.

Now, it houses council-owned cultural buildings including the Whanganui Regional Museum, Sarjeant Gallery and Tylee Cottage.

The proposal to change the reserve's name to Pukenamu Queen's Park was included in the draft Pukenamu Queen's Park reserve management plan which went out for public consultation in March.

The name change had 27 public submissions in support and nine against.

That was enough for councillor Murray Cleveland to suggest the arguments against the change be considered.

"There's quite a bit of weight here," he said. "A quarter of the people are quite against it and that shouldn't be falling on deaf ears at all."

Pukenamu Queens Park is an area of historical and current cultural significance. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Pukenamu Queens Park is an area of historical and current cultural significance. Photo/ Bevan Conley

Councillor Kate Joblin said that wasn't the case.

"But we are a South Pacific nation with a number of histories, and I think the name properly recognises that," she said.

Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay said the name catered for all.

"We've included both in this which I think is appropriate acknowledgement of both histories at all periods over the lifetime of the reserve."

It was "always difficult for a community and individuals to accept change", councillor Helen Craig said.

"Certainly when you've grown up with it and something's always been a particular name but we do need to remember that there were people here before Europeans came and they had a name for that area.

"We're now at that stage where we're acknowledging that there were people here before us and to continue not to acknowledge that would be remiss.

"It is an opportunity as much as it is difficult for the community to understand that at times."

The council has also voted to change the reserve's designated use from an area for municipal buildings to culture and heritage and will focus on telling the stories of the area.

In March 2016, council officially incorporated the Maori name for Virginia Lake into its official name and it is now known as Rotokawau Virginia Lake.