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Wellington City councillors move to oppose Victoria name change

Wellington City councillors have moved a motion to oppose Victoria University changing its name.

Photo: 123rf.com

The name change itself is stalled after the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins declined an applicationfor the institution to change its name to the University of Wellington.

The university is considering legal action against that decision.

It has faced fierce opposition from alumni and students alike, with 2000 people submitting on the proposal, and 75 per cent against it.

However the university’s vice chancellor Grant Guilford has maintained changing the university’s name would help it have a decent global brand, allowing it to attract foreign students, and access research grants.

At a meeting yesterday the notice of motion was put forward by councillor Andy Foster to oppose the name change.

The university had implied during the name change process, that it had the support of the city council, Mr Foster said.

This after mayor Justin Lester expressed his support for the move at a mayoral forum.

Mr Foster said the record needed to be set straight.

The notice, signed in October and sent to the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, was signed by nine councillors, including Mr Foster.

Mr Lester said councillors were entitled to have their own opinion on the issue, but said the city did not need a prolonged debate on the issue.

“I am curious about the reasons why, in an election year, it’s been brought up. And I hope this isn’t politics, and I hope this is about what’s important. It should be about what’s important to Wellington.”

Mr Lester said he did not expect the university to seek a judicial review of Mr Hipkins’ decision.

Councillor Brain Dawson said he was personally opposed to the name change, but said it was not appropriate for the council to take a position on it.

“This is not council’s business, and we should not be taking a formal stand on it… as a council we are not here to decide someone else’s business for them.”

Councillor Nicola Young was on the other side of the camp, saying she strongly opposed Victoria University changing its name.

“Frankly, Victoria [University] has other priorities… instead they’re focussing on changing the university’s name.

“The university should focus on staff student ratios, teaching spaces, its library, and increase the funding for teaching and research rather than waste money on a PR offensive.”

Earlier in the meeting several members of the public voiced their opposition to the university changing its name, after university vice chancellor Mr Guilford gave a submission explaining the name change proposal.

RNZ / Laura Dooney