Signs marking Whanganui town's Māori name change vandalised

Tue, Jan 24

Newly-installed signs for Pākaraka north of Whanganui were vandalised just hours after being installed.

The community, formally known as Maxwell, saw the signs installed on Saturday, which was then followed by a blessing ceremony.

A spokesperson for Ngāti Maika hapū told NZ Herald that the signs were found broken on the ground around 9.30pm that evening.

Whanganui Mayor Andrew Tripe said the district council sees the actions as "disrespectful to the Ngāti Maika hapū and the wider community," as well as a, "waste of money and resources".

"Acknowledging the original name of the settlement is important to us as a council and community," he said. "Vandalism by a few does not diminish our support of tangata whenua in seeking consultation for name changes."

Rob Service, Waka Kotahi NZ's system manager for maintenance and operations in the region, said the agency has worked with Whanganui District Council and Ngāti Maika since late last year to install the new signs at Pākaraka.

He said the importance of the signs to the local iwi and community is recognised.

"We understand the community will be disappointed about the damage to the signs, and we are too," he wrote in a statement.

Waka Kotahi NZ says it will work with the council and iwi again to install new signs.