SHARE

A legacy.

That is what the Waihemo Shag River’s name change is for the late Jim Hinkley.

Formerly known as “Shag River”, the name was officially changed to Waihemo Shag River by the New Zealand Geographic Board last month.

Mr Hinkley, who died last year, had been a passionate campaigner for the change.

He submitted the idea to the geographic board and reached out to the Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki, which supported him, as did Te Runanga o Moeraki, Ngai Tahu Papatipu Runanga and mana whenua.

Flowing from the Kakanui Mountains, the river is 75km long and meets the ocean at Shag Point, 7.5km east of Palmerston.

Mr Hinkley and his wife Maria Barta lived beside the river, near Dunback, for many years.

“Jim would have spent hundreds of hours enjoying this very pretty river,” Mrs Barta said.

Before he died, he published a book titled A History of Fly Fishing on the Shag River.

Mrs Barta was delighted to see her husband’s campaign for the name change come to fruition.

“It’s poignant for me because he’s not there to be able to have that success.”

Legacy . . . Maria Barta pictured with her husband Jim Hinkley in 2019.PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki chairman and deputy upoko Matapura Ellison said the runaka supported the submission because of a desire to recognise and keep ancient names alive.

“It’s a reflection of the bicultural basis of our society,” he said.

“I am not for getting rid of one name over another, I think it’s nice to share the history.”

It was a good step in recognising both Maori and Pakeha culture side by side, while maintaining a sense of belonging, he said.

“It’s reflective, informing and educational.”

New Zealand Geographic Board chairman Anselm Haanen echoed this and said the dual name acknowledged the significance of both Maori and European histories.

“Waihemo” translated to “river that has gone away or dwindled”, and Shag River was named by early whalers as a reflection of the seabird presence, Mr Haanen said.

The board received many submissions in support of the change but, because of several objections, the final decision was made by Minister for Land Information Damien O’Connor.

Both names were now required to be shown together on official documents, such as signs and maps. Verbally, either or both names could be used.