Friday marks the 100th anniversary of Whanganui mayor Charles Mackay shooting returned soldier Walter D'Arcy Cresswell.
Cresswell was slightly wounded in the shooting on May 15, 1920 and Mackay pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years hard labour.
Mackay, who was mayor of Whanganui from 1906-1913, and again from 1915 until 1920, was exiled from the town and rarely mentioned in Whanganui histories for the next 50 years.
His portrait was removed from the council office, his name sanded off the foundation stone of the Sarjeant Gallery and Mackay St was renamed Jellicoe St.
Since then, there has been a revival in learning about Mackay and the significance he had in growing Whanganui in the early 1900s.
It is believed Mackay shot Cresswell because Cresswell had threatened to expose his homosexuality.
Wellington historian Paul Diamond has been learning about the life of Mackay for the past 16 years, and is hoping to release his book titled Death in Berlin this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the infamous incident.
"Whanganui was very prosperous in that period and he was one of the people that had a lot to do with that," Diamond told the Chronicle.
Mackay was an ambitious, energetic leader whose projects were farsighted and is responsible for a lot of the early growth of Whanganui.
He advocated the building of an electric tramway system for Whanganui, improved the town's roading, water supply and fire services, and was instrumental in having the Dublin Street Bridge erected. He also had outlying areas Aramoho and Wanganui East bought within Whanganui's boundaries.
Mackay, an advocate for the arts, was a key supporter of the Sarjeant Gallery.
Sarjeant Gallery relationships officer Jaki Arthur said for Whanganui Heritage Month in October, the gallery would celebrate his legacy further.
"He is an incredibly important figure in Whanganui's history and the Sarjeant in particular owes him a huge debt of gratitude as he was a huge supporter of the gallery from the bequest to the construction in the early 20th century."
The Sarjeant is also looking to hold David Charteris' one man play during Heritage Month about Mackay, titled One of Those.
While Mackay's impact can be still be seen today in the form of buildings and bridges, Diamond said it was the social changes since 1920 that also played a big part in his story.
People were uncomfortable talking about sex at that time, especially homosexual sex.
"Mackay being gay was right through the story. That's one of the reasons we are interested in the story. It was back when being gay was considered a sickness.
"Think about how we are like about death. It's kind of switched around. We are very uncomfortable with death and don't like talking about it. Whereas they were a bit like that with sex. They were probably more comfortable with death because it was more common then."
There has been a recent push to have Mackay St reinstated in Whanganui. Now known as Jellicoe St, Diamond said the surrounding streets are all named after their families associations people or places associated with Andrew Duncan (the father of Mackay's wife Isobel Duncan), who purchased the land.
A man called Young married Andrew Duncan's daughter; Helmore was the Duncan family lawyer; and one of Andrew Duncan's wives came from Boydfield in Scotland. Diamond noted that Totarapuka, the Duncan homestead, is at the centre of all the streets. "The family story is told in the names, which is why it's significant that Mackay's was removed and replaced with Jellicoe (the Governor at that time)."
He hopes to finish his book by the end of a year to help dispel some of the myths around Mackay and his life story.
"Mackay's contribution to Whanganui cannot be understated," Diamond said.