Greerton businesses verdict on name change idea

Greerton Village Community Association Mainstreet manager Sally Benning. File Image. SunLive.

A spokesperson for Greerton business owners has suggested there would be near universal opposition to any potential name change for the suburb.

A heated debate has been sparked regarding a potential renaming of Greerton in recent days due to its historical connotations.

Greerton is named after Lieutenant-Colonel H.H Greer, who was a British commanding officer of the 68th Regiment, during the Battles at Te Ranga and Gate Pa in 1864.

His actions, particularly at Te Ranga, have led to prominent Greerton resident and Te Tuinga Whanau executive director Tommy Wilson to suggest changing the name.

However, despite some backing, the idea has also drawn vehement criticism including from Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, who suggested it would be “counterproductive and wrong”.

Now, the business owners of Greerton Village Mainstreet have backed the latter perspective, suggesting it would not change historical actions and would also lead to costly rebranding for businesses.

“The feedback from 99 per cent of the businesses that I have spoken to, and that’s not to say I have spoken to them all, I can categorically tell you is not in favour of a name change for Greerton at all,” says Sally Benning, Mainstreet manager of the Greerton Village Community Association.

“Colonel Greer was not a very nice man. Nobody denies that. But it is history, it happened in the 1800s. We don’t believe that changing the name of somewhere is going to make any difference whatsoever to that.”

Sally, who was speaking as a spokesperson for the Greerton Village Community Association, also suggested a name change could have a significant impact on businesses regarding the cost and energy involved in any rebranding.

“It is a massive undertaking,” she says.

“Imagine, for each individual business, they have just had a bad year with Covid and all that drama, if they were to be hit with a name change that they did not want in the first place?

“That would mean everything. Their website, their facebook page, their business cards, their invoices. Everything. Businesses are not willing to pay for something like that when they don’t want to do it.”

Sally also suggests that Greerton has now established its own reputation, far removed from the legacy of Lieutenant-Colonel Greer, which should not be forgotten.

“We have spent a lot of time, energy and money in building the brand of Greerton Village.

“People before me have spent a lot of time and money branding ourselves as Greerton Village and we have come through some tough times but Greerton is booming.”

The subject of a possible name change will be brought up at a Greerton Village Community Association board meeting on Tuesday, after which Sally suggests there may be a formal communication to Tauranga City Council.

The New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa have the power to change place names although would require the support of Council, in the form of a formal resolution, to do so.

If a proposal to NZGB received objections, which based on the initial reaction seems likely, the final decision would rest with the Minister for Land Information Damien O’Connor. The Minister’s office confirms no current proposals for a Greerton name change have been tabled.

Sally says she is pleased to see such healthy debate surrounding the topic and believes the floor should always be open for such discourse.

However, when it comes to speaking on behalf of the business owners of Greerton, the message, at present, appears clear.

“It is never a bad thing to have open discussion and conversation and I fully support that.

“That said, everything I have heard has not been in favour. The overriding feeling is ‘please can we not let this happen?’”


More on SunLive...

Sorry, Sun Media is no longer accepting comments on this article.

Kancho thank you

Posted on 12-05-2021 08:56 | By R. Bell

for your version of events of two hundred years ago. However they are irrelevant to the current discussion. No one can change the past, but we can help shape a better future. Greer was, and his name is still symbolic of brutal oppression of innocent people defending their land from blatant theft. I agree the history should be "left there" but that also means the names of those who carried out those acts should not be glorified in names of towns and suburbs, and that includes Greer. For once in your life try to imagine the insult to local Maori.

@ Kancho

Posted on 12-05-2021 08:08 | By

Well said. Interestingly there has been no debate whatsoever regarding the name Greerton. People have been more than happy with it for decades and some even rightfully consider it a beautiful suburb to live in. Now all of a sudden in this PC, out of control, racial separatism we have a bunch throwing disgust at it. As you say Kancho, no one smells of roses. It’s a great suburb with a stunning array of shops in beautifully kept streets with a great name. Leave the name alone.


Posted on 11-05-2021 15:27 | By Kancho

Interesting Greer was bloodthirsty and not a nice man. Relatively in those days the norm. The well documented slaughter and slave taking and cannibalism by Maori at that time ran into thousands of dead. Both before and after Europeans. Ultimately Maori fought on both sides in conflicts both pro and anti the crown. A reason many signed the Treaty to stop the intertribal warrior raids. Of course escalated with technology and the tribal rushing in the land grab before the crown formalized tribal territories. So a time in history best left there. No one smells of roses. Selective revisionism that may fit in today’s morals but not two hundred years ago

yadick, if

Posted on 11-05-2021 12:58 | By R. Bell

by any turn of fate Greerton was to be renamed, in my humble opinion that would be a good thing. So far objections revolve around cost but cost can be mitigated in many ways. You never know if you asked nicely and if local Iwi decide to make a formal request they may decide to help reimburse any cost to genuine cases of unreasonable hardship. Any change would be gradual, with a phase out period so people can adjust. Of course people don’t like change but consider local Maori who have to live with the constant reminder of the injustice of it all. Hope springs eternal but so does disappointment.

Not Just In The Name . . .

Posted on 11-05-2021 10:58 | By

It’s all the paperwork, legal documents, car signwriting, product labels, . . . It all adds up and Council, who is already broke, wouldn’t even consider paying for it. Leave the name alone.


Posted on 10-05-2021 19:51 | By dumbkof2

so some want a name change. sure but give it an english name

yadick your at it again.

Posted on 10-05-2021 17:12 | By R. Bell

I did not say "it’s only a name" I said what’s in a name" vast difference. Please get things right. Tommy and others want the debate so why not? So far the only objections that matter are ones of cost to local businesses so here’s a suggestion for those who have Greerton in their name. Council reimburse costs, a quick look today saw probably no more than 10% are in that position. Scoop has it about right but the "majority" will look for any excuse to deny local Iwi.

@ R. Bell

Posted on 10-05-2021 15:02 | By

Sorry I need to clarify. I am saying they should just leave the name alone. I am not telling you ’leave it alone’. My apologies as that came across wrong. Everyone, rightfully or wrongly is entitled to their opinion.

Is history enough?

Posted on 10-05-2021 13:47 | By Scoop

To not want to change the name of Greerton because it’s part of history is nonsensical. What if is the suburb was named Hitlerton, would we still be saying Adolf Hitler wasn’t a nice man but history is history. Greer ,to local Maori, was responsible for some of their darkest days. For MP Simon Bridges to say to change the name would be counter productive and wrong is mystifying considering he’s Maori, or proports to be. Perhaps he is saying just what his followers want him to say?

@ R. Bell

Posted on 10-05-2021 12:35 | By

At the end of the day, it’s only a name . . . Your words not mine. So just leave it alone.

Don't worry an alias,

Posted on 10-05-2021 12:07 | By R. Bell

there is virtually no chance of any name change. I do wonder though how many people opposed the name changes to cities like New York, London e.t.c. As for asking the Maori people no I didn’t, did you? I prefer to give my own opinion in all things and not speaking for 99% without speaking to them all.

R. Bell

Posted on 10-05-2021 09:57 | By

You clearly have no idea of the cost to business with names changes. Have you even asked the majority of Maori if they care about a name ? Your clearly clueless as not many have any prejudice based on the name Greerton, apart from yourself of course.

Disingenuous argument,

Posted on 10-05-2021 09:28 | By R. Bell

perpetuating the prejudice of yesteryear. When Greerton was named after a blood thirsty British officer, fighting an illegal war, there was no input from the Maori residents of this city. None. Why well for the same reason that the same people oppose a simple name change and continue to oppose Maori representation. Marginalisation. Its a pretty safe bet that those who oppose have never thought the issue through and simply react from inherent prejudice. As for Simon he knows how to play the majority just as Winnie did, promise them anything and deliver nothing.


Posted on 10-05-2021 09:19 | By dumbkof2

i think there will be the same opposition if they try and change the name from New Zealand