Whanganui village wipes name of Scottish military leader who led massacre of Māori rangatahi

The small settlement of Pākaraka outside Whanganui has wiped the name of a Scottish militia leader from the map.

Formerly known as Maxwell, it was named after Sergeant George Maxwell, who led a massacre of Māori rangatahi more than 150 years ago.

Replacing the road sign and replacing a name associated with one of the little-known dark chapters in our history, officially returning the name of this small settlement near Whanganui.

"The signage is now out on the road and it's now time for all of us to start referring to that and using it," Ngāti Maika spokesperson Bob Brownlie said.

A blessing and powhiri echoed across the land near where the 1868 massacre happened which was led by George Maxwell on unarmed Māori tamariki playing in a woolshed.

"Maxwell got a group together of militia and they charged a group of children with their sabres and killed several of them," Ngāti Maika's Whetu Fala said.

Others survived with their fingers sliced off but lived to tell of what happened.

The settlement was then named Maxwelltown before becoming Maxwell in 1927.

"It's caused unrest with us and that name had to be eradicated," Mātua's Taituha Kīngi said.

A request from Ngāti Maika to change the name was agreed to by the Geographic Board.

"This now in some respects closes that process," Brownlie said.

On Saturday, a new chapter can be written.

"It was time for us to heal," Fala said.

Pākaraka's mana is now restored so its future can be reshaped.