Wellington City Council has decided to take an official position against Victoria University's proposed name change.

The move has been voted through at a full council meeting today, although there was some division among councillors over it.

The university's vice-chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford, has labelled the decision a sideshow that will have no impact.

It follows Victoria's refusal to rule out a legal challenge against the Education Minister's decision to decline the bid to be called the University of Wellington.


It's also in reaction to Mayor Justin Lester giving his support for the change at a regional mayoral forum, without consulting his elected colleagues first.

"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", background to the motion reads.

Guilford said it was not the right thing for the council to be doing.

"It's somewhat of a sideshow, the submissions are long past and the decision has now been made by the minister and by our council so it's an after-the-fact thing that's a bit johnny-come lately."

"But that said, it's good that the councillors are interested and they see the matter as being sufficiently important to take a position on it."

The unanimous support for the name change from a regional mayoral forum was the university's main guide to local government's perspective on the issue, Guilford said.

"I think we got caught up a little bit in election politics and this is probably why this is happening here today."


Lester addressed his councillors with a similar tone at the meeting.

"If you wanted to actually have an impact that was before the ministerial decision last year… I am curious about the reasons why in an election year it's been brought up and I hope this isn't politics."

Those against the decision say it's not the role of council to have an official position on the name change and doing so would be unnecessarily poking their nose in other people's business.

Those for it say the name change is widely unpopular and will not make any material difference in bringing the university's closer to the city.

Councillor Andy Foster hoped Victoria might draw a line in the sand and drop its name-change ambitions at a meeting on Monday, three months after Education Minister Chris Hipkins declined the proposal.

Instead, the university's council deferred any decision on the name change in light of the mosque massacres in Christchurch.

"The Victoria University of Wellington Council recognises that the Government has urgent priorities in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks", chancellor Neil Paviour-Smith said.

The university would engage with the Education Minister and key stakeholders in the interim, he said.