A significant heritage precinct in Kihikihi will be renamed from Rata-tu to Turata – its original name according to mana whenua.

At a strategic planning and policy meeting last week, committee members voted to approve the renaming after the incorrect name was brought to council's attention last year.

Waipā District Council senior reserves planner Anna McElrea says council had been consulting with iwi on several proposed improvements to the reserve when the issue was raised.

"In May last year, council resolved to progress some initial improvements to the southern half of the area. The focus of these works was to remove redundant farming infrastructure, protect and interpret heritage features and improve access to and through the area," says Anna.

"Following this, we began discussions with mana whenua to hear their thoughts on the proposed changes and it was highlighted then that the correct name for the area is Turata.

"This reserve is a culturally significant and historic area in Kihikihi and in Waipā so it is very important that we are using its correct name to acknowledge its history and importance."

The name change was also endorsed by the Te Awamutu Community Board last month.

The 1.1508ha area made up of four land parcels, on the corner of Lyon and Havelock streets, was originally referred to as the Kihikihi Heritage Precinct but was changed to Rata-Tu during public consultation for the Management Plan in 2012.

Waipā district councillor Hazel Barnes said the Kihikihi community would be "very pleased to see the name corrected" to Turata.

"People will no longer have to say the name quietly under their breath any more, it is really Turata.
"I am absolutely delighted to recommend that this be official," says Hazel.

The initial enhancement works on the reserve are set to start in the next month once approval from Heritage New Zealand has been received.

They include the removal of fences and installation of new fences/barriers, installation of interpretation signage outlining the importance of the site, an entrance sign and way-finding signage, and development of entrances to the reserve.

The works are supported by mana whenua and lessees, the Kihikihi Police House Restoration Trust and Te Awamutu Branch of The Māori Women's Welfare League Inc.