Wellington Scoop

VUW decides: it will not be changing its name

Report from RNZ
Victoria University of Wellington announced today that it would not be changing its name.

It announced instead a “branding refresh” that would see it emphasise the word Wellington to differentiate it from other universities.

It also approved a new Māori name, Te Herenga Waka.

Press Release – Gwynn Compton
Gwynn Compton, a Victoria University of Wellington alumnus and organiser of the petition that now has over 13,000 signatures in opposition to the proposed name change of the university, has welcomed today’s decision by the University Council to abandon the name change proposal.

“For me and thousands of others, there’s an immense sense of relief that sanity has finally prevailed and the name change proposal has been abandoned. Far too much money has already been wasted on a project that would have delivered little or no benefit and, given that the proposal had been thoroughly discredited and rejected by the university community, would have likely damaged the university’s reputation had it been forced through via a legal challenge,” says Mr Compton.

“Already $400,000 has been wasted on the name change, and that’s money that could have been put to far better use if it was invested in areas such as teaching, research, facilities, and student support services – all areas that Victoria University’s own business case showed have a greater effect on student enrollments.”

Gwynn Compton says that while it’s important for university management and the university community to move on from the name change debacle, this entire process needs to be learnt from by both the public and private sectors.

“As much as we need to put this entire divisive saga behind us, it’s crucial that both the public and private sector pay attention to what’s happened here and learn from it. For instance, public consultations can’t just be an exercise in box ticking, you need to ensure you go above the bare minimum and properly consider the feedback you receive, especially if it’s overwhelmingly opposed to what you’re proposing,” says Mr Compton.

Gwynn Compton has also paid tribute to the thousands of people who signed and shared his petition opposing the name change, including those who have offered counsel and support along the way.

“When I first set up the petition on the Friday night last July after the draft decision had been released, I never imagined it would get such a big response. I’ve been in awe of how many people have signed and am hugely thankful for all the messages of support and encouragement I’ve received over the past 10 months.

“It’s been incredibly humbling to have so many people also share their stories of their experiences at Vic, and their affection towards the university that has helped shape so many lives. I’m very thankful to all the students, staff – both current and former – alumni, and academic, business, and artistic leaders who have shared this petition with their friends, families, and colleagues. They haven’t signed their names lightly, and having them on board has helped make this a success.”


  1. Michael Gibson, 6. May 2019, 10:03

    VUW are being wasteful and ridiculous.
    I join with the admirable Gwynn Compton in saying “I hope that on Monday we finally see the end of this sorry saga.”

  2. Andy Foster, 6. May 2019, 12:19

    I hope the University Council finally makes the decision to abandon a name change today. The alternative is a lot more time and money spent, and alienation of many people – like the 15,000 plus of us who signed Gwynn’s petition or made submissions opposing name change. Having read all the material the University made available, the case for change is really weak.

  3. BHS, 6. May 2019, 13:12

    The case for name change is compelling! Wellington University isn’t like WCC where money just flows in from local taxation irrespective of the paucity of service. Name and place recognition is very important in selling education overseas. Grant Guilford’s Wellington University has to compete for name recognition with Victoria University Australia, Victoria University British Columbia, Auckland University NZ etc…. So close a chapter on ‘Victoria’ (like Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds Universities sensibly did) and start an exciting new chapter in the ongoing life of Wellington University NZ.

  4. michael, 6. May 2019, 13:31

    If Victoria University has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the name change, then clearly the University is getting far too much in funding and/or student fees are too high

  5. Dave, 6. May 2019, 17:02

    Name changing isn’t cheap but it can pay dividends. Look at the millions of dollars Z, Chorus, Spark and Zespri spent to name a petrol station, telecoms companies and a Chinese gooseberry. Wellington University is selling education and getting the name right is crucial in on-line selling to overseas students.

  6. Nicola Young, 6. May 2019, 17:10

    Commonsense at last from VUW, with its decision to abandon the proposed name change. The process has been divisive and a waste of money better spent on education. [via twitter]