A prominent Greerton figure is calling for the Tauranga suburb's name to be changed but not everyone agrees.
Greerton is named after Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Greer, a commander of the British forces during the Tauranga Campaign in early 1864.
The campaign was a six-month-long armed conflict as part of the wars fought between the Māori and British over land.
Te Tuinga Whānau Support Services executive director Tommy Wilson questioned why a person he believed caused harm to the community was being celebrated.
In Wilson's view: "Colonel Greer tried to wipe out our people.
"Why would we want to continue with a name honouring those people that dishonoured tangata whenua of Tauranga Moana?"
"You've got Ōtumoetai, the long sleeping tide; you've got Matapihi, the window that opens out; Matakana, to watch over; Arataki, to pave your way forward — then you've got Greerton. I mean, come on."
Before Greerton was named after Colonel Greer, it was known among Māori as Tutara Wananga.
Another option could be Taratoa, for Ngāi Te Rangi leader Hēnare Wiremu Taratoa, who is credited with chivalry towards wounded enemy soldiers in the battles at Gate Pa (Pukehinahina) and Te Ranga in 1864.
Wilson said a new name wouldn't be for him to select. Instead, he would like to see it left to kaumātua and the three iwi of Tauranga Moana: Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga.
He said the name conversation was timely as next year the curriculum for schools such as Greerton Village School would include learning about where the name came from.
Greerton business owners Marilyn Mouat of MDS Leatherworks and Leeanne Manninen of Tauranga Menswear opposed a name change.
Greerton had a long and admittingly not perfect history, Mouat said, but she found the idea of changing the name difficult to comprehend.
"I'm not all good with that," she said.
Asked whether she would be comfortable with a dual name in English and Māori, Mouat said she wasn't sure.
"Greerton is known as Greerton. I don't agree with changing any names, they are what they are."
Greerton Village Community Association manager Sally Benning believed a change "wouldn't go down well" with local businesses.
"It would be a major mission if we had to — it would mean rebranding and that type of thing. My opinion is that a Māori name for Greerton would not be popular."
A Lakes resident who visits Greerton often, who asked not to be named, thought younger people would be more receptive of a name change than the older generation.
He did not know the history behind its name, however, after learning about it he thought changing the name wouldn't be a bad idea.
The New Zealand Geographic Board is responsible for changing place names, Tauranga City Council said.
The council said it would be consulted as part of any name-changing process but would have limited influence over the decision.
New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa secretary Wendy Shaw said anyone could make a proposal for a new or replacement suburb name.
It was preferable, however, for the community to be consulted before making a formal proposal to the board.
"The board will take into account community views in its consideration of any proposal," Shaw said.
"If [the board] supports a proposal, the next stage is to publicly notify it, seeking submissions for or against.
The final decision would likely be made by Land Information Minister Damien O'Connor.
The process typically took about a year before a decision was made.
Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley said a conversation would be held between Māori leaders before any proposed names went before the community.
"We've been keen to engage in the conversation about the name," he said. "The name could be a range of different ones, including Tutara Wananga.
"If the conversation is initially about what you think about it as an idea to revert back to its Māori originality, the answer is yes — what a cool idea.
"Will it be easy? No. Will there be lots of opposition? Yeah, of course, but it's a conversation that can and should be held."
Stanley said it would be important for local iwi and hapū to be at the forefront of the conversation.
The idea of reverting or changing Greerton's name to a Māori one was not new, historian and former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere, of Ngāi Tamarawaho, said.
The name Greerton was one of several sore points among Māori when it came to names. Cameron Rd was another major one.
Tauranga's main central road was named after General Duncan Cameron, who was the commander of the imperial forces in New Zealand from 1861 to 1865.
Cameron led the attack in the Battle of Gate Pā, in which the British suffered a crushing defeat from the local Māori.
"It is a permanent reminder of what happened to us, having the main road in Tauranga still called Cameron Rd," Mikaere said.
However, Mikaere said Greer appeared to be far more notorious.
After Gate Pā, Greer led the siege at Te Ranga, a victory for the British.
"Colonel Greer doesn't come across with a particularly good reputation," Mikaere said.
"[Compared to Cameron] he was another man altogether. I haven't read any good press about Greer at all. Why he should be commemorated I have no idea."
Asked whether he would like to see the name changed, Mikaere said: "I'd have to put it to the rest of the hapū but I'm guessing they'd be happy to see that name changed".
Greerton on the up after rocky few years — business owners
Greerton is known as a village within Tauranga city by the people who live, work and visit its cherry tree-lined CBD regularly.
Over the past few years, however, the village has struggled through a series of issues that had local business owners concerned people would be put off visiting.
The Tauranga City Council's controversial road safety upgrade on Cameron Rd is still a sore point for some, however, retailers on Chadwick Rd said it had no major effect on business.
And the issue of beggar gangs that began plaguing Greerton in 2018 had also subsided.
Greerton Village Community Association manager Sally Benning said all the previous issues that hampered Greerton had "completely" gone away.
"The people who had been put off have returned or, if they are residents, they are very happy to be shopping again in Greerton," she said.
"The issues have gone and Greerton has returned to being very busy and vibrant."
Benning thought people were attached to the suburb's village feel and how retailers and business owners made relationships with customers.
She also said not a single business was lost over the Covid-19 lockdown, although she was sure many suffered.
Mouat said business was roaring, and Greerton residents seeming keen to support local and always lovely to deal with.
"Greerton is a nice place to be," she said. "It has a nice villagey feel. It's central to everything — as a small business it's so good."
Manninen moved to Tauranga with her husband Mathew and family about seven years ago from Wellington.
The city had changed a lot over that time and now Greerton was becoming a central suburb in the wider region, which was exciting as a business owner.
"Greerton has also become the centre of Tauranga if you look at Ōmokoroa and all the other recent developments. We're in the middle but used to be on the edge," she said.
"The population is growing so for the right person, it's a viable place to have a business."
Piki Russell and Christine Fisiihoi live outside of Greerton but have been visiting and working in the village for years.
Although a teenagers' hang-out club has disappeared and shop fronts have changed, the spirit among the community remained the same.
"Greerton looks after Greerton. There is a real connection between the people who live and work here," Russell said.
"It's a village within Tauranga. It's really different from other parts of the city … There is a lot of ethnic and age diversity here."