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'Named after monsters' — Tauranga suburb clashes over its controversial namesake

A campaign to rename a small Tauranga suburb has sparked debate in the region.

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Greerton’s namesake led a bloody campaign in the region nearly 160 years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

Greerton is controversially named after British Colonel Henry Greer, who led a bloody campaign in the region nearly 160 years ago.

"Well, given the history of the person it's named after, who pretty much slaughtered women and children, everything's wrong about it. There's pretty much nothing right about it," said campaigner Tommy Wilson.

"I know people that don't go down Cameron Road because it's still too raw."

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said it's not about rewriting history.

"It also goes for street names that have been named after the monsters that hang on these walls that sponsored the genocide of our people," he said. "Those things have got to stop, so it's a whole issue that we've got to be talking about."

But local MP Simon Bridges, who is Ngāti Maniapoto, argues there's no need for change.

"[I] totally disagree with it," he said. "Greerton's a really characterful little suburb. This will be costly. It's going to be confusing. It's just not necessary at any level."

One organisation at the heart of the community, which didn't want to be named, said its staff is spilt 50/50 with those in favour of the name change and those who want to keep the status quo.

Wilson suggests Taratoa Greerton as the suburb's new name — after Hēnare Wiremu Taratoa, who was a leader of Ngāi Te Rangi iwi of the Tauranga district.

"Look at Australia, look at the Aboriginals, look at America with the Indians," he said. "We can pave the way forward for those to follow."