Restoring Ma¯ori place names
Te Wiki o te Reo Māori
Palmerston North’s Waitoetoe Park will increasingly be known as Ahimate Park after research into its history revealed its cultural significance.
The city council is about to direct its staff to take the steps necessary to make the renaming formal.
It is part of a developing trend for greater public acknowledgment of the cultural history of many of its places, especially its reserves and areas along the Manawatu¯ River.
It is a change that is particularly significant for Nga¯ti Hineaute Hapu Authority chairman Chris Whaiapu, whose wha¯nau have close connections to the area.
The neighbouring Paneiri people who lived there were recognised with the renaming of Buick Park as Paneiri Park in the early 1990s.
Their pa¯ was Ahimate, on the banks of the Manawatu¯ River near the beach known recently as Waitoetoe.
Whaiapu said it was important to ensure those people and their village were remembered and respected.
He said elevating their story did not deny the European history of the park.
The name Waitoetoe had little meaning in Ma¯ori, but was an attempt by a former property owner to use the Ma¯ori word for water ‘‘wai’’ and a description of the vegetation to name the land.
‘‘We accept that the intention was not to be insulting.
‘‘And it is also part of the history, just as the Allied Concrete works is very much still part of that area’s story that should be maintained.’’
City council principal Ma¯ori adviser Todd Taiepa said Ahimate Pa¯ was a taonga or treasure, and it was important to put things right with its name.
‘‘That land had an identity before European settlement, and that provides the foundations for its future use.’’
He said the whole history of the area would be honoured, and stories told and displayed through the park’s development, and he credited iwi with ‘‘a real generosity of spirit’’ in welcoming continued community enjoyment of the area.
A view across the Manawatu¯ River from what has lately been called Waitoetoe Beach, site of the former Ahimate Pa¯.