The Napier Conference Centre is to be renamed the Napier War Memorial Centre after councillors voted 7-6 yesterday.
Napier Mayor Bill Dalton had suggested the building be named the Napier War Memorial Conference Centre, but the narrow vote saw his proposal fall short.
Councillors took about two hours to reach a decision on the building's name, which had been a source of controversy over the past year, since the words 'war memorial' were removed in 2016.
Read more: Why we made the wrong decision
In speaking to his motion, Mr Dalton told the meeting, attended by about 60 members of the public, that it had been a difficult and delicate subject, with some believing the decision to remove the words 'war memorial' was offensive and showed a lack of respect to both those who gave their lives in war, and those who built the original memorial.
"For that I unreservedly apologise - there was never any intention by this council to be offensive or disrespectful."
He said that when the facility was officially branded the Napier War Memorial Conference Centre in 2000 there was no dissension until 2016, when it was renamed the Napier Conference Centre.
"Of course, that didn't please everybody and a small but very vociferous group sprung up demanding we reinstate the title war memorial to the facility."
While he said councillors were agreed it was appropriate to restore the words war memorial in the title, it made no sense not to have the word conference in that title.
"it would be irresponsible for councillors to spend more than $7 million of ratepayers' money creating a top-class conference centre then brand it in a way that industry experts tell us would be an impediment to marketing the facility."
These views were echoed by some members of the public who spoke during a forum before the meeting.
These included Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas who said the name Napier War Memorial Conference Centre would both acknowledge the past as well as look to the future, citing the commercial value the conference market brought to the region.
Katie Nimon, marketing manager for passenger transport company Nimon and Sons, said the company supported the words 'war memorial' being included, but cautioned that it was also important that the name reflect what the business was. She suggested the new name could be Napier War Memorial and Conference Centre.
Other members of the public, however, argued the word conference wasn't needed in the name.
Craig Morley said there were many places that hosted conferences in the region, such as Church Rd and Mission Estate, and that did not need the name conference in any title to attract clients.
Grace Haden said it was not a commercial building, that it had been built to honour the fallen and that it must not digress from that.
Councillors Kirsten Wise, Api Tapine, Faye White, Annette Brosnan, Maxine Boag, Richard McGrath, and Tania Wright voted against Mr Dalton's motion.
It was then put to the council that it rename the centre the Napier War Memorial Centre, and that the building branding and signage form part of the war memorial design due to come back to the council in June this year.
This was unanimously accepted as were further recommendations from Ms Wise (speaking via telephone link from overseas) that the Napier Conference Centre brand still be recognised and marketed as a key business activity within the Napier War Memorial Centre.
It was also agreed that the council would develop a policy for the ongoing management of the facility to protect the site's heritage, recognising its commemorative elements and the fact the community also used the building.
The decision was welcomed by many of those who attended the meeting, some of whom commented "we did it" as they left.
They also suggested the new name should be in place before this year's Anzac Day, but there was no confirmation that this could happen.
A paper presented to the council for the meeting noted that rebranding the centre was estimated to cost $142,500, which was currently unbudgeted for.