Wednesday, May 29, 2024
5.1 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

Is it a naming or a renaming?

Featherston’s Town Square. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM



[email protected]

A council plan to name Featherston’s Town Square will go ahead, but a ward councillor urged for the project to progress without reopening old wounds.

The town’s community board voted to support a South Wairarapa District Council staff report into naming the square, which was opened in 2016.

However, a move led by councillor Ross Vickery sought to refer to it as the naming, rather than renaming, of the square – colloquially known as the “squircle” by townsfolk.

Vickery said he hoped the recommendation would progress without “bitterness and rancour”, and that the original motion was motivated by “ill will”.

The report, compiled by the council’s communications team, cited former councillor Dayle Harwood, who raised the matter in 2018.

Minutes from the meeting said, “Mr Harwood requested that the plaque on the Featherston Town Square be removed and that the Square be renamed to something more suitable for Featherston.”

This week, Harwood told the Times-Age that he was pleasantly surprised by the move.

“It was very divisive at the time when the squircle first went in – there was a lot of bad blood.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity for Featherston to take ownership of it by renaming it.

“It shows that someone is doing something right within council to ensure that any resolutions that are open are followed through with.”

Last Friday, in a letter to the Times-Age, former Mayor Adrienne Staples said Harwood’s call to have the square renamed “must be seen for what it is – a personal vendetta against me and a burning desire to have my name removed from the plaque on the square’s front wall”.

“If the people of Featherston, through its community board, wish to have the area renamed, then that is their prerogative, but it should be done against a backdrop of understanding,” said Staples, the current Wairarapa representative on, and deputy chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council.

She said the council had named the square “as a parallel to Messines Square in Belgium”, the two towns having been “twinned for 45 years”.

“Yes, there are people who felt the area could have been used differently, but that is the way of any project of that nature and to say it was dedicated to me is absolute rubbish.”

“The plaque states that it was opened by me, designed by Earthwork Landscape Architects and constructed by Perkinson Civil. This is fact, not a dedication and all perfectly normal things to be acknowledged on a public amenity if you look around.

“If Harwood and his supporters succeed in having my name expunged from the public face of the town square, then so be it and I hope it brings them joy. They also cannot remove the fact that the architect and construction company went above and beyond their contract requirements to build something everyone could be proud of.”

Harwood replied by the same method on Saturday.

“If Staples has an issue, she should address that with the community board of Featherston rather than accuse the innocent.”

He claimed that when he first presented the idea to rename to the Featherston Community Board, the members which included councillors agreed the idea had merit, and now another community board had not dismissed it.

The new report was put to the board for consideration at their meeting last Tuesday

Vickery said he was surprised the matter had returned to the board, and taken officers time to write the report.

The local lawyer was elected to replace Harwood in 2018, and has been a sitting councillor on the board since, before and after re-election later last year.

“The motion to remove the plaque is something that was motivated by ill will,” he said.

“I can only see this going forwards as a proposal to name the square, but I would not like to see any of the bitterness and rancour that gave rise to this motion in the first place … and that we go forward positively.”

The resolution will go to the council’s assets and services committee, with a view to formally naming the square later this year.


Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
few clouds
5.1 ° C
7.7 °
5.1 °
97 %
20 %
7 °
10 °
12 °
16 °
18 °