Uncertainty over whether Victoria University will continue its bid to have its name changed has revealed a rift between Wellington's mayor and some city councillors.

The university's council held its first meeting of the year on Monday where members considered the Education Minister's decision to decline its name change proposal.

Victoria wants to be called the University of Wellington.

The independent peer-reviewed legal advice the university obtained on the Minister's decision was discussed in a public excluded section of the meeting because the information was legally privileged.


"The University Council will be considering the Minister of Education's decision, its ramifications for our University, and the wider implications of his decision for institutional autonomy", Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford said in a statement.

When city councillors got wind of the university council's agenda they emailed some members a copy of a notice of motion sent to Chris Hipkins before he made his decision.

The motion being touted is that Wellington City Council strongly opposes the name change.

"The council is aware that in part the name change proposal is based on the university saying that it wishes to get closer to the city and region and the strong implication or explicit statement that the council supports the name change.

"This is not true", the document reads.

Reasons for the motion included Wellingtonians likely being alienated by a name change and the move being widely unpopular.

Signed by nine city councillors, the notice of motion was moved by Andy Foster and seconded by Fleur Fitzsimons.

It comes after mayor Justin Lester gave his support for the name change at a regional mayoral forum.

That support has been referred to several times by the university when making its case for the name change.

But councillor Foster said Lester never canvassed his colleagues before giving his support.

"We said hang on a moment, we're not at all happy with that, we don't agree with you.

"I think we expressed our displeasure to him in person and I think he realised that possibly it wasn't something he should have done without asking, particularly because he's not a Victoria University graduate either."

Foster said they sent a copy of the document to university council members so they could be made "fully aware that the council does not support the name change".

Justin Lester said he would always support the university in his role as mayor.

"It is a critical component of our city and we need to foster a strong relationship."

It remained unclear where the university stood following its council meeting.

"The council has decided to take some time to consider options, taking into account the views of the university community and legal and other advice", a spokesperson said.

The notice of motion was likely to be considered at a full Wellington City Council meeting next month.

City Councillors who signed the notice of motion:
• Diane Calvert
• Chris Calvi-Freeman
• Fleur Fitzsimons
• Andy Foster
• Sarah Free
• David Lee
• Iona Pannett
• Malcolm Sparrow
• Nicola Young