New Pākaraka town signs vandalised moments after being put up

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

New signs in Pākaraka, renamed by Pākehā as Maxwell until locals convinced the NZ Geographic Board to revert to the original name, have already been vandalised just hours after being put up.

According to the NZ Herald, vandalism included broken posts and signs on the ground. 

“The signs have been safely stored, and I guess that Waka Kotahi [New Zealand Transport Authority] will replace them when they can," a Ngāti Maika spokesperson Bob Brownlie said.

But the damage done would not diminish the spirit of joy and friendship experienced at the ceremony that took place on Saturday, he said.

“It was wonderful to welcome so many manuhiri [visitors] who supported the name restoration.

“We knew we had the support of many local Pākehā people but to see them come along to the ceremony and share the celebration was a real joy.”

It comes after a pōwhiri and blessing ceremony took place at Pākaraka Marae on Saturday hosted by Ngāti Maika, hapū of Taranaki iwi Ngā Rauru Kītahi.

The hapū advocated for change by petitioning to reinstate the name Pākaraka over Maxwell in August 2020.

Historically painful associations with the name Maxwell, particularly the assault on Māori children in 1868 known as the Handley Woolshed incident, have been a source of resentment for many generations.