Wellington Scoop

Polhill Reserve to be renamed in te reo Māori


News from Wellington City Council
The Wellington City Council is proposing to extend the Waimapihi Reserve name to the wider Polhill Reserve area to reflect the historical and cultural significance of the area to mana whenua.

The name Waimapihi comes from the stream that once went past Te Aro Pā and its tributaries originate in the wider Polhill Reserve area.

The name change proposal is in line with Council’s Te Tauihu Te Reo Māori Policy, with a vision for a te reo capital city by 2040. The name would also acknowledge and make this history accessible to all those who visit the reserve.

The stream is now redirected underground through pipes from Aro Valley, but the cultural significance of the area remains.

The proposed name change is part of our Te Reo Māori Policy and perfectly timed as it coincides with Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, says Councillor Jill Day, Chair of Pūroro Rangaranga, the Social, Cultural and Economic Committee.

“The stream was an important mahinga kai site and a source of water for drinking as well as irrigation for kumara and flax. Waimapihi refers to the waters of Mapihi, a rangatira of Ngāi Tara and Ngāti Mamoe, who used to bathe in the waters of the stream.

“The naming of this area is important for raising more awareness of local heritage, culture and customs, and a better understanding of te reo Māori in Pōneke.”

Polhill Reserve is currently named after Baker Polhill, an early settler who lived in Wellington from 1841 to 1849. Polhill harvested timber from the reserve area and set up a wood selling enterprise.

The proposal will go to Council in November for a decision, in the meantime if you have any feedback you can visit wellington.govt.nz/polhill for more information or email communications@wcc.govt.nz. Feedback closes 5pm Friday 8 October.

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  1. Michael Gibson, 16. September 2021, 9:10

    This is really interesting and an ideal way for Jill Day to get her name into print. I have asked Council officers what the names Takapū, Wharangi, Pukehīnau, Motukairangi and Paekawakawa mean as used on the electoral wards in Wellington and I will now ask her as well.

  2. Richie Bestingface, 16. September 2021, 10:29

    I wouldn’t mind some clarification. So the stream that ran through Aro valley and Te Aro was named Waimapihi but not the area named Polhill? Why not have both names and an explanation to ‘acknowledge and make this history accessible to all those who visit the reserve…’ I find both names interesting from a historical viewpoint.

    Also are we dealing with facts here when Cr Day says the stream was used for irrigation of kumara crops? According to TeAra, “kumara could only be grown in the warmer parts of the North Island, and coastal areas of the northern South Island.” I’ve never known it to be grown in wellington but I’d be intrigued to know if it was.

  3. Claire, 16. September 2021, 11:38

    Richie: I agree both names have historical preservation at heart. You can’t ignore or wipe out history. Same for Aotearoa New Zealand – I prefer both names to be used. As are two languages in New Zealand.

  4. J Chris Horne, 16. September 2021, 20:36

    I welcome the proposed change of name to Waimapihi Reserve because the 65 hectares of publicly-owned Wellington Town Belt land at the head of Aro Valley is at present in three blocks, namely Waimapihi Reserve, Polhill Reserve, Denton Park. To retain these names would be to perpetuate confusion. To name all as Waimapihi Reserve is perfectly logical. The name “Polhill”, after an early European settler, is the name for the 299-metre high point of the block.

    I urge Wellington City Council to ensure that no more tracks in the reserve are built. This jewel of Town Belt land is protected in perpetuity by the Wellington Town Belt Act 2015.

  5. Andrew, 16. September 2021, 23:03

    ‘Polhill’ is not the name of the peak. It is a coincidence that the reserve was named after someone with ‘hill’ in their name and is a common mistake. Hopefully one that is no longer made if the reserve name is changed.

  6. Leopard Skin, 17. September 2021, 8:43

    Why can’t they keep/use all the names? Or is this just about erasing European history in Wellington.


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