News / Council

And the winner is … Merri-bek

Over half of community choose the word for ‘rocky country’ as Moreland’s new name

Thursday, June 29, 2022

MERRI-BEK, a Wurundjeri word meaning ‘rocky ground’, has been selected by a community poll as the likely next name for the City of Moreland.

Fifty-nine per cent of residents who voted in the community survey to choose a new name picked Merri-bek from the three options available.

The next most popular choice was Jerrang, meaning ‘leaf of tree’, which was chosen by 22 per cent, while 13 per cent preferred Wa-dum-buk, which means ‘renew’. Six per cent of people voted against any name change.

The three names were put forward by Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung elders and considered during a six week consultation process run by the council in which 6315 people had their say. This was just over 3% of the Moreland population.

Source: Moreland City Council

The results of the survey will now be considered by a special council meeting in Glenroy this Sunday to begin NAIDOC Week.

If, as expected, the council endorses the community choice of name, it will then be submitted to the Minister for Local Government, Shaun Leane, for approval.

Mayor Mark Riley said changing the city’s name was an important step in reconciliation and healing journey with the traditional owners of the land now known as Moreland.

“Merri-bek, meaning rocky country, is the clear frontrunner from our community, with 59 per cent of respondents choosing it as their favourite,” he said in a statement.

“Many residents shared that they felt most connected to Merri-bek as it linked to the iconic Merri Creek and the rocky country where we live.”

The council has engaged in a re-naming process after it was presented with fresh evidence late last year showing how Moreland’s name derived from a Jamaican sugar plantation that used slave labour in the 18th and 19th century.

The slavery connections had been publicly known when the Kennett Government adopted the name Moreland for the new municipality formed from the amalgamation of the cities of Brunswick and Coburg in 1994. But over the subsequent decades, the links had been forgotten and current councillors said they were unaware of the origins of the name.

The Moreland name is now considered inextricably linked with the forced colonisation of traditional Indigenous lands.

Uncle Andrew Gardiner, deputy chair of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, said the community consultation process had been impressive.

“It acknowledges that the community wants to change the name away from what it is now associated with and move onto to something that brings people together,” he said.

“Our elders and elders from other ethnic groups who have made Australia home, can have respectful and informative meetings and talk about this as the catalyst to sharing common stories to bring better understanding across the community.”

But council support for the name change is not unanimous, with three of the 11 councillors opposed to a name change because the community was not first consulted about whether they supported the concept.

In recent weeks, an online petition also attempted to halt the naming process but has failed to reach its target of 1000 signatures.