Whanganui District Council will partner with Ngā Rauru in a bid to change the name of the small village of Maxwell.
The name of the village near Whanganui honours a colonial militiaman who attacked children in the infamous Handley's Woolshed affair during the New Zealand Wars.
Ngā Rauru and its Ngāti Maika hapū asked the council to partner with them in an application to the New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) to change the name back to Pākaraka.
Pā refers to a home place, village or area of communal land, iwi representative Ruta Broughton told councillors at a meeting on Monday, and karaka is a kind of tree abundant in the area.
A former pā in the area, called Pākaraka, was moved inland after State Highway 3 was built. Broughton lives in the present pā of the same name, and the iwi would like it to apply to the whole area.
Another iwi representative, Fiona Shaw, said the Maxwell road sign was a daily reminder that the land was no longer under Ngāti Maika governance, and it also recalled a painful historical incident.
That is the Handley's Woolshed affair of 1868, when two boys were killed and others injured. A group of pre-teen boys had left nearby Tauranga Ika Pā. Their elders were preparing it for an attack by European settlers as Titokowaru moved closer to the fledgling town of Whanganui.
The boys had gone hunting and were trying to pluck geese they had caught when Bryce's Kai-Iwi Yeomanry Cavalry Volunteers arrived on horseback and attacked them with sabres and pistols.
Ngā Rauru's 2003 Treaty settlement gave provision for the iwi to ask local councils for name changes. The tribe asked the Whanganui council to get involved with changing the name "Maxwell" in 2015, but the council didn't take it up.
This time most councillors were keen to help.
Councillor Alan Taylor said he gave the matter more than 100 per cent of support. It was self-evident that the council should work with Ngā Rauru to rectify "these inconsistencies" and also that it should consult others - those named on the war memorial in Maxwell Hall, for example.
Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay liked the partnership idea, and said 800 years of pre-European history needed recognition. The council could "play a small part in redressing a historical grievance".
Councillor Charlie Anderson said George Maxwell was "clearly not a very nice person" but historic figures like Te Rauparaha were also abhorrent and were still recognised. He asked whether the Matarawa plaque about the Gilfillan massacre would also be removed.
"We need to embrace our cultural history, warts and all."
Deputy mayor Jenny Duncan said she got his point, but this change would be a return to a previous name and it was "fundamentally right".
She was proud of the support shown by her colleagues.
"We have come a long way," she said.
Mayor Hamish McDouall said names do get changed in Whanganui. He suggested changing the name of Wakefield St to Mackay St, to honour a mayor who did a lot for the city before his 1920 shooting conviction.
"We shouldn't memorialise people who don't deserve our memorialisation."
He reminded councillors that this name change predates the statue removal and protests sparked over the last six months by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Anderson was the only councillor to vote against supporting Ngā Rauru.