Council recognises Levin's Māori name Taitoko hoping collaboration will drive transformation of the town

Horowhenua District Council has included the Māori name of the town of Levin in a planning document, a move they and a Māori elder hope will drive a transformation of the small town north of Wellington. 

Seven Sharp’s Kaysha Brownlie visits the lower North Island town. Source: Seven Sharp

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp reports Levin is the surname of a man who apparently never actually set foot in the town.

"Levin's not a legal name, but Taitoko is," said Marokopa Wiremu-Matakatea, Muaūpoko kaumatua.

He said Taitoko means "ray of the sun" adding, "Taitoko means to me an identity".

The council has for the first time officially recognised that identity by including the name in the draft Levin town centre strategy document which is titled, "Transforming Taitoko/Levin".

"Let's start helping people get that awareness that actually Taitoko was an important part of the history," said David McCorkindale, the council's strategic planner.

"It has been a town that's I guess been struggling for a number of years. At the moment Levin could be described as a somewhat unmemorable place."

The highway going through the middle of the town doesn't help make it memorable, but if a proposed bypass is approved that might create room for a proper town centre.

Mr McCorkindale says the district population, which has sat around 30,000 for about the last 25 years, has taken off over the last couple of years.

And they're predicting another 10,000 to come over the next 20 years.

Marokopa Wiremu-Matakatea predicts Taitoko will be a city in 50 years and said, "the motorway will help that because it just cuts the time from Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) to Taitoko and people from Whanganui-a-Tara will come here to live".