Submissions invited on proposal to rename Maxwell

Published on November 23, 2020

Karaka tree

Whanganui District Council has agreed to support Ngāti Maika hapū of Ngā Rauru Kītahi to undertake consultation which will inform their application to the New Zealand Geographic Board to change the name of Maxwell locality to Pākaraka. 

The Ngā Rauru Deed of Settlement, signed with the Crown in 2003, encourages conversations between Ngāti Maika and the council on this matter and in May 2020 they approached the council to seek support to go through the New Zealand Geographic Board renaming process.

At a council meeting on 3 August, 2020, the council made a formal decision to support Ngāti Maika to make this application and also to carry out the required community consultation.

Whanganui District Council’s Group Manager – Corporate, Stephanie Macdonald-Rose, says the consultation opened today. “The views of those associated with Maxwell are being sought and letters have been sent to Maxwell property owners inviting them to have their say.

She says, “Anyone with an interest in Maxwell can make a submission via the Whanganui District Council website, or by mail.”

The name Pākaraka was decided by the tūpuna of Ngāti Maika during hui over the years and it has positive associations. 

Several blocks of land in the area have the name Pākaraka Block in their land titles, which recognises the historical reference to the karaka tree which was abundant in the landscape. 

The old pā site was also surrounded by karaka trees so when it was shifted to its current location, the name Pākaraka was maintained. The marae is a community hub for the Maxwell locality;  all significant decisions for the whole of Ngāti Maika hapū are made at Pākaraka.

Stephanie Macdonald-Rose says associations with the name Maxwell have been a grievance carried for generations and are a reminder of historical pain, in particular the attack on Māori children in 1868 in what is known as the Handley Woolshed incident. 

“The Ngā Rauru Deed of Settlement recognised the Handley Woolshed incident and encouraged discussions between Whanganui District Council and the Ngā Rauru Iwi Authority or the Governance Entity in relation to the name of the town of Maxwell.”

Consultation closes on Monday, 21 December at 5.00pm.


Have Your Say

Online: You can complete this submission online at

Alternatively, send your written submission to: Renaming of Maxwell to Pākaraka, Te Kaahui o Rauru,

C/- Whanganui District Council, 101 Guyton Street, Whanganui 4500



History of the locality

Māori history

Ngāti Maika, hapū of Ngā Rauru have been at Pākaraka since the beginning of time and are tāngata whenua.

Tāngata whenua means that the people originate from the land, and were here prior to Aotea Waka, the Great Migration and European settlement. ‘Ko Ngaa Paiaka O Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi’ (R Broughton, 1979).

Ngāti Maika lands extend from the coast between the Ōkehu and Ototoka streams, inland to what is known locally as Ōtongawera and Ōmarunui

The original pā site was located behind the William Birch pool and was shifted to its existing site in the 1860s.      

The first settlers

The resident tribes were resistant to the alienation of their lands and therefore settlement by Europeans did not really begin until the mid-1860s.

Negotiations for the Waitōtara Land blocks began in 1859.  The negotiations were riddled with conflict with the tribes involved concerned about the progression of European settlement of their lands. Eventually in 1863 the purchase went through and the Waitotara Land Block was created.  (The way we were: The settlement of Maxwell and Waitōtara – 1850-1930, Laraine Sole).

The Handley Woolshed Incident

On 27 November 1868, a government militia encountered a group of unarmed children of Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi and other iwi of Taranaki at Handley’s Woolshed near Waitotara.  The children were from the nearby Tauranga Ika Pa, the eldest about 10 years old.  In an unprovoked attack, the militia fired on the group, then pursued them on horseback and attacked them with sabres.  Two of the children were killed and others wounded.

Source: Deed of Settlement of the historical claims of Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi (clause 7.25).



Tagged as: