King Country town divided over proposal to change its name to a Māori one

North of its bigger country cousin, Taumarunui, and just south of Te Kuiti, is Benneydale - population 170.

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Bennedale lies northwest of Lake Taupō. Source: Marae/1 NEWS

It's in line for a name change because of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, but locals, used to its name, are worried.

The town was named after two officials at the nearby coal mine seventy years ago, Charlie Benney and Tom Dale.

However, Māori were never consulted.

Now, as part of a Treaty settlement, the Maniapoto Māori Trust Board is considering changing it to Mania-Ti after one of the nearby hills.

"I don't really know why they'd want to change it, not really, it's been Benneydale from day one," Brian Isaac of the Benneydale petrol station told Marae.

A petition has been started, with around three hundred signatures, with only three so far supporting the change.

"The comments were the main thing I think, not just the signatures, but the comments that people put and that was more or less leave it as it is," says local resident, Graeme Reinhardt.

Ngāti Maniapoto says it will listen to the local's concerns but one compromise could be to use both names.

As it stands, Benneydale is the only town in the King Country with a Pakeha name.

How long it stays like that, is still under consideration.