Hamilton Mayor Andrew King has withdrawn his proposal to rename the council Kirikiriroa City Council after widespread public opposition.

King's suggestion was included with his monthly report which was tabled with the council today.

His report said: "I have had a number of discussions with local iwi representatives, including King Tuheitia, about Hamilton being more culturally aware of our partnership with Maori.

"I believe a significant step in this process would be renaming [the] council to Kirikiriroa City Council."


This morning however, after some heated submissions during a public forum, King retracted his proposal.

"I feel one way to reflect that heritage would be to emphasise the Maori name for this council. This chair report was only for a starting point," he said.

"The level of public comment and media commentary has gone far beyond that idea."

His decision was greeted with obvious relief by the majority of councillors.

Geoff Taylor said: "Andrew I think you did the right thing withdrawing it today.

"I feel sorry for you because you have taken a bit of flak over the last couple of days."

Taylor said King should have spoken with the other elected members before adding such a proposal to a meeting agenda.

"I have never been a supporter of any council changing their names because there is never a good reason to waste money on that sort of thing," he said.


"In my experience changing names is nothing but a vanity project."

In pulling his recommendation this morning, King said the community had moved into the debate before the council had the chance to talk about the concept.

"The reaction to this item has become an unfortunate distraction to that process, that was never my intention.

"It is clear to me that further discussions on this subject at this time would divert away from the 10 year plan.

"This is not the right plan to be considering this item.

"I am withdrawing the recommendation in this report."

This morning, the public gallery at the Hamilton City Council chambers was packed for a forum. Waikato Security was also present due to concerns about potential protests.

A member of the public addressed the council and asked whether there had been any public consultation on the proposal.

"My theory is, because we live in a democracy, the place to raise this would had been during an election time.

"The rest of our history has been based on a cow because that what we are, we are the dairy industry," he said.

"Perhaps we should consider putting a big cow out on the main street, like Morrinsville?"

The man said the mayor mentioned in his report the city was in a partnership with Tainui.

"I thought when I voted, I voted for the Hamilton City Council to run this city, not anyone else. Is there something somewhere that I do not know about?

"In terms of the name change, I'm against it."

Frankton resident Brian Burne said there was too much change going on, which he felt was unnecessary.

"This country is all one country," he said.

"You guys are changing names all the time, all the streets are getting changed to Maori names.

"Stop wasting our money. If you have money to waste, then give it back to the ratepayer."

Most of the public attending the meeting filed out of the chambers after the public forum ended.

Councillor Mark Bunting said the mayor had done the right thing by withdrawing the suggestion.

Councillor Paula Southgate said it was a lesson in items being added to meeting agendas at the last minute.

"I am interested in seeing the correspondence between you and King Tuheitia."

Dave Macpherson, a councillor who calls himself Dave Mac, felt the name change suggestion was a positive one, albeit poorly timed.

"I applaud you for raising the issue, the timing could have been better but this sort of issue needs to be raised," he said.

"There is a huge scaredness to have this sort of discussion but I am not scared to have this discussion.

"It amuses, in an ironic sense, that it is only when we want to change something from an English name to a Maori name that we get this angst."

Prior to Thursday's meeting, protesters from the Taxpayers' Union arrived with a petition opposing the proposal.

A protester from the Taxpayers' Union. Photo / Tom Rowland
A protester from the Taxpayers' Union. Photo / Tom Rowland

A spokesperson for the lobby group presented the petition, which he said was signed by 1500 people.

"Think of the cost of changing, logos, stationary and the consultation process."

"The costs are high because it is proposed at a time when council are proposing a 19.5 per cent rates increase over two years.

"Cases like this pose the question, if this is what you do with ratepayers money in the light of day then what are you doing when we are not looking?"

The council has proposed a 9.5 per cent rates increase for next year and another 9.5 per cent the following year.

Councillor Siggi Henry said she also thought it was an untimely move.

"I am not scared talking about but it just came at the wrong time," she said. "I applaud the mayor because he retracted it.

"Next time I suggest we can perhaps get a hint of what is going on."

Councillor Angela O'Leary told Hamilton News earlier this week it was clearly "just a random idea" of the mayor's.

"I am hoping the discussions on Thursday will be a lot fuller and a bit more informative."

The official Hamilton City Council logo includes the Maori name for the city.
The official Hamilton City Council logo includes the Maori name for the city.

O'Leary said the city should be embracing te reo more but the city needs to have a plan and a vision about it.

"We need to ask what are we trying to achieve here and not just some random idea that has popped into someone's head saying let's just change the name of the council and be done with it."

The full statement accompanying the mayor's withdrawn proposal reads:

As you know, I believe we should recognise and celebrate our shared history. As individuals, and as a Council, I think we should raise awareness of our city's cultural heritage. I feel one way to reflect that heritage would be by emphasising the Maori name for this Council. This chair's report was intended only to be a starting point for a fuller discussion which we could have later in the year. However, the level of public interest, media attention and commentary has gone far beyond looking at an idea. There are strong and contrasting views on the issue and our community has moved to debate before we have even talked about the concept. We are about to discuss a draft 10-Year Plan with the residents of our city, and the reaction to this item has become an unfortunate distraction to that process. That was never my intention. I'm sorry that for some Councillors this came as a surprise. It is clear to me my colleagues feel further discussion on this subject, at this time, will divert attention from our 10-Year Plan and the important decisions we must make with our community. I recognise that view. This is not the right time to be considering this item. This Council's attention needs to be on delivering our Plan and getting our finances sorted. Accordingly, I am withdrawing the recommendation in the report.