A proposed name change for Hawke's Bay's airport remains up in the air after Hastings District Council yesterday failed to either support or oppose a move to rename it Ahuriri Airport Hawke's Bay.
Instead the council, which owns 24 per cent of the airport, voted narrowly in favour of a motion to support a similar but different name change - to Hawke's Bay Airport Ahuriri.
The company that runs the airport, Hawke's Bay Airport Limited, was approached last year by Treaty of Waitangi claimant group Mana Ahuriri seeking the change of name to Ahuriri Airport Hawke's Bay.
The airport company's board was supportive of the change but has sought approval from its two local shareholders - Hastings District Council and Napier City Council, which holds a 26 per cent stake.
Napier councillors voted to support the change last month.
But following yesterday's Hastings District Council decision, airport company chairman Tony Porter said his board was not left with a clear mandate and would need to discuss what to do next.
The Crown owns the other 50 per cent of shares in the local airport and Mr Porter said State Owned Enterprises Minister Todd McClay had told him it had "no objection" to the proposed name change.
Mr Porter said given the Crown's neutral position, he was seeking support from the two councils, and was disappointed by the resolution passed by Hastings District Council because it did not address the question his board had asked.
"This vote clouds the issue so I will have to go back to my board and we will have to work out a way forward," he said.
The Hastings councillors voted 8-6 in favour of supporting the Hawke's Bay Airport Ahuriri name, which is not favoured by Mana Ahuriri.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said public feedback suggested the region's residents did not support "Ahuriri" going in front of "Hawke's Bay" if the airport's name was changed.
That view was echoed by several councillors who said the proposed name would be confusing for travellers.
But councillor Henare O'Keefe said the Ahuriri name was "our point of difference," and the council would "not be sorry" if it supported the Mana Ahuriri proposal.
"Your children, your children's children will grow to love it," he said.
Mr Porter said the airport board was likely to begin discussing its next move when it met for a scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
However, with plans for the name changed to be put in place to coincide with a multi-million upgrade of the airport terminal - which was not due to be completed before late next year at he earliest - there was no urgency for the issue to be resolved.