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Darcy and James – top park name nominations

Facebook shout outs from Pā Harakeke residents last summer asking whether two of the three Flaxmere Parks named for Ron Giorgi could be renamed have resulted in a number of suggestions. In particular they wanted names relevant to Flaxmere.

The Flaxmere Planning Committee called for ideas earlier this year, noting that final decisions on any name change would be made by Hastings District Council. One of the parks would keep the name Ron Giorgi, who was Hastings mayor from 1959 to 1974. During his mayoralty, he championed the purchase of 184 hectares (455 acres) and the development of Flaxmere.

Two nominations stand out – Darcy Strickland and James Morgan.

Darcy Strickland

Known and loved for his huge smile, big heart, enthusiasm and willingness to help anyone, Darcy Strickland was tragically killed aged 29 in October last year. More than a dozen submissions, from whānau, friends, rangatahi, tamariki and the wider community, asked that Darcy be considered.

Whether it was in his role as learning coach at Irongate School, rustling up an informal game of basketball, playing rugby with his local club or the French Club which had signed him up, or popping over a fence to help kaumatua finish their lawn mowing, he was known as a protector, supporter, hero and a passionate champion of Flaxmere, the suburb that had shaped the man he became.

As well as keeping Darcy’s name alive, his family hope that it would “bring the community together in a way that reminds us that speaking up can help bring closure to a family who is suffering.”

Irongate School youngster Harlem put into words what a lot of the community is thinking: “Naming the park after him will remind everyone of how special he was.”

James Morgan

A tireless worker for the suburb he lived in and was passionate about, James Morgan was determined to make the Flaxmere Licensing Trust a major source of funding for the community. James died in 2020, having spent near 15 years on the trust and continuing to champion it following his retirement in 1990.

Over the last four years the trust has given out more than $2 million in grants to community projects, from schools for items not provided by the Ministry of Education and health and fitness initiatives and clubs, to arts initiatives and other community projects that benefit Flaxmere. One year, working with the Hastings Fire Brigade, the trust funded smoke alarms for every home in Flaxmere that did not have them.

James’ principal nominator, John Bradshaw, believed that having James at the helm in the early years of the trust made it the success it has become.

Also the longest serving editor of the Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune (which became Hawke’s Bay Today), Flaxmere was not the only community project he was involved with. Others include the Pekapeka wetlands, Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank, and the upgrading of the grounds of the Head Start Unit at Hawke’s Bay Hospital.

More ideas

Other suggestions for park names included Lochain Park (the name of the area when it was a farm, however there is already a park of that name in Flaxmere), Moa Park (given a moa skeleton was reportedly found during the development of Flaxmere) and McConnachie

Park (for the owner of the land prior to Council purchasing it for the development of Flaxmere. The committee is likely to recommend that these elements of the parks’ history be included on a ‘story board’ on the park that keeps the Ron Giorgi name. Suggestions that didn’t include reasons included Kaka and Hiroki.

A very short history

While no Council records have been found explaining why the three parks all have the same name, the most likely credible explanation is that it was originally all one park which was divided by roads as more homes were built.

What happens now?

The Flaxmere Planning Committee raised the potential to rename two of the parks with Council prior to calling for ideas. Both the parks team and Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst were happy to consider the community’s wishes. Now, all of the nominations and their reasons will be reviewed by the Flaxmere Planning Committee as soon as possible. The committee will then work with Council’s parks team to prepare a recommendation for Council. At a Council meeting, councillors will make decisions on if the names will be changed, if so which names will be confirmed, and which names will go on which parks.


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