Time for Palmy to let it go

17:00, May 18 2013

Ok Palmy, let's just get it over with.

Let's put behind us the shame of John Cleese and his "thoroughly bloody miserable time", and the pride at Jeremy Clarkson's assertion that if God had got it right then "Jesus would have been from Palmerston North".

Let's forget about Lord Palmerston, the man who gave you that great name and let's move on. To Manawatu City.

Yes, you heard correctly, the city at the heart of the Manawatu wants to name itself after the province. Well, at least the deputy mayor does. Again.

In 1998, Jim Jefferies, who was not yet a city councillor, suggested as a millennium present to itself, the city should change it's name to better reflect its identity. He put forward Manawatu City and has restarted the debate, as deputy mayor, this year.

Jefferies told the Sunday Star-Times that Lord Palmerston had never even made it to our shores, and therefore we shouldn't feel any loyalty to him.


"I feel no particular affinity to Lord Palmerston. There was no emotional or physical justification for the decision. I've lived here since 1982 but the name of this city has never endeared itself to me."

Manawatu, he said, means the heart stands still. And it fits better.

"It's a flavour more akin to the Kiwi way, than the colonial way."

His idea might not have yet taken flight in Palmy ("At the moment I am just keeping an eye on the reaction and it's a bit mixed," Jefferies said) but it has in Palmerston of the south.

That's the place up the road from Dunedin.

Otago's town has the earlier name claim, with surveying dating from 1862, while Palmerston North didn't come about until 1871.

Lennox Sharp, the principal of East Otago High School, in Palmerston, said "it would make things easier for us, or certainly for anyone who is looking to post anything to Palmerston of the south.

We still get a huge number of things that go to Palmerston North although, I understand we were the original.

"Some might say we are the more important, if less well known, Palmerston."

Sunday Star Times