The district named after George Maxwell is on course to be renamed Pakaraka. Photo / NZME
Signage for a Whanganui community that currently honours a militiaman connected to the murder of rangatahi, will soon reflect the traditional Māori name of the rohe.
The New Zealand Geographic Board granted hapū Ngāti Maika’s request to rename the town of Maxwell to Pākaraka in February of this year.
The Ngā Rauru Kītahi hapū says the signage of the town will be swapped out in early January.
The name change was met by strong public support, with 189 of the 255 comments in favour of renaming Maxwell to the then-proposed name of Pākaraka.
Sergeant George Maxwell, a Scotsman who was a founding member of a settler militia in the 19th century, inspired the naming of the community.
Maxwell’s militia came across a group of tamariki Māori, the oldest of whom was 10, while scouting close to Nukumaru in 1868 and in an unprovoked attack, killed two of the children.
The act was acknowledged in the settlement deed of Ngā Rauru Kītahi.
Since their ancestors were murdered, Ngāti Maika have fought to have the name Pākaraka name restored – which is also the name of the local marae, and means a settlement surrounded by an abundance of karaka trees.
Derek Carroll, a spokesman for Ngāti Maika, says the hapū will commemorate the installation of the new signs with a community event.
“Details have yet to be finalised,” he said, “but this will be open to all members of the community.”
“Ngāti Maika is currently liaising with Whanganui District Council and Waka Kotahi with regards to traffic management to ensure the signs can be blessed and installed safely.”
David Langford, Chief Executive of the Whanganui District Council, said the organisation had given the signs for Pākaraka and will help with their installation in January.
“This will be a moving and historic occasion and we are pleased to be able to continue our support in this way.”