Deputy mayor wants Palmerston North name change

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 14:41 09/05/2013
jim jefferies standard
MANAWATU CITY: Deputy mayor Jim Jefferies says Palmerston North is not a name that has ever endeared itself to him.

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Palmerston North's name should be changed to Manawatu City and the time is right to have a public vote about it, deputy mayor Jim Jefferies says.

In 1998 Cr Jefferies, who was not yet a city councillor, suggested the city's name be changed to better reflect its identity.

He put forward the name Manawatu City as a logical choice and said it should be implemented on the first day of the new millennium for added publicity.

At the time, the idea struggled to gain traction among councillors, and it was never put to a referendum.

Fifteen years later Cr Jefferies is keen to broach the idea again, this time as deputy mayor.

''I've lived here since 1982 but the name of this city has never endeared itself to me,'' he told the Manawatu Standard.

''The place and the people certainly have. But not the name.''

Palmerston North is named after Viscount Palmerston, known popularly as Lord Palmerston, who was a British Prime Minister in the mid-19th century.

Jefferies said Lord Palmerston had little relevance to the history or identity of the city.

''There's no local roots there. We really have no emotional or physical tie to Lord Palmerston.  It was just that somebody at the time picked his name.

''The name Manawatu, on the other hand, is fundamental to everything in the area.

''Palmerston North is Manawatu's city.''

Cr Jefferies said the fact that ''North'' was needed to differentiate the city from Palmerston in the South Island was another sticking point.

He admitted a change would be controversial and have significant impacts for the branding of the city, but said there were ''more plusses than minuses''.

Maps and signs would have to be changed and long-term residents would struggle with it initially, but those were surmountable barriers, Cr Jefferies said.

Manawatu Standard articles from 1998 show opponents of the name Manawatu City were against it because of its potential to be shortened to ''Man City'' - a colloquial name for English football club Manchester City.

Cr Jefferies said he did not believe this would be an issue.

''I don't think [when I first brought it up] I ever got a good reason to not change it from the people that objected to it.''

''It became clear it wasn't going to fly at the time, but times change, and I think maybe it's an occasion now to revisit the concept.

''I'm certainly not the first to suggest a name change and even since I did there have been other calls on the horizon.''

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He said the name would have to have support from inside council and a city-wide vote would be essential.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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