The Napier City Council has voted to support a request to rename the region's airport as Ahuriri Airport Hawke's Bay - with one councillor voicing his opposition to the proposal.

A debate on the issue at a council meeting yesterday followed a written request last week from Hawke's Bay Airport chairman Tony Porter for the council to formally support the proposal to change the name of the airport and the company.

The council owns 26 per cent of the airport and Mr Porter is seeking similar support for the name change from the Hastings District Council, which owns 24 per cent, and the Crown which owns the other 50 per cent.

The airport company was approached with the name change request by Treaty of Waitangi claimant group Mana Ahuriri.


Richard McGrath was the only Napier City Council member to speak against the proposal at yesterday's meeting, saying there was "little to no public support" for the change.

"This is a regional Hawke's Bay airport and to add what is effectively the word Napier may harm our future working relationship with Hastings after amalgamation has been defeated," he said.

Mr McGrath said he had concerns about "brand recognition" consequences for the airport under the change because Google searches recognised Ahuriri as the suburb beside Napier Hill.

"I'm not going to get into an argument about what it should be. I'm all for Maori naming. I just don't think this one is appropriate," he said

Speaking in support of the name change, Councillor Tony Jeffery said there seemed to be an incorrect perception that travellers "would get lost and won't realise where they're going" when, in fact, details such as the airport's codes would not be changed.

Mr Jeffery said the proposed name "had a really good ring to it, and I'm proud of it".

Councillor Michelle Pyke said a lot of people had told her the proposed change "made good common sense and was good recognition for our Maori partnerships going forward".

"There is no great change here - it alters one word. It alters nothing for people flying in and out of our airport."


Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said the renaming issue was "discussed at length" by the council's Maori consultative committee last October.

He was at the meeting and the proposal was met with "not one dissenting voice".

The proposal will be discussed by Hastings district councillors at a meeting next Thursday.

Mr Porter said last week he had yet to receive any indication of the Crown's view on the proposed name change.


* The name-change issue will be discussed by Hastings District Council next week.
* Airport company chairman Tony Porter is also seeking support for the change from the Crown, through State Owned Enterprises Minister Todd McClay.
* If it goes ahead, the name change would be timed to coincide with a multi-million-dollar upgrade of the airport terminal, due to be completed late next year.