Ben Boyd National Park on the NSW Far South Coast has been renamed to Beowa National Park, meaning 'orca' or 'killer whale' in Thaua language.
This follows a lengthy consultation period with local Indigenous groups.
Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council Chairman and Monaroo Elder BJ Cruse said the decision to rename the park had been a "long time coming" and was the result of a huge effort by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the area.
Mr Cruse said although the name was not one of his original suggestions, the most important thing to him was that the name had been changed to traditional word "that reflects the traditional cultural heritage for the local area".
Mr Cruse said the renaming reflected the government's attempts to rectify the wrongs of the past.
"A national park preserves traditional Aboriginal cultural heritage along with other things, and for a national park to be named after a person of a reputation of Ben Boyd is not proper and not fitting.
"It indicates to me a willingness of governments to negotiate with Aboriginal people regarding outstanding matters," he said.
Mr Cruse said local tribes traditionally created a unique bond with killer whales over thousands of years and that killer whales were used to help hunt larger whales - with both able to share in the large bounty of a successful hunt.
He said whale meat was often shared between different Indigenous groups in the area and it was preserved and able to be carried for trade between different regions.
The decision to rename Ben Boyd National Park followed requests to rename the park due to Benjamin Boyd's reputation of 'Blackbirding', a practise that involved the coercion of people through deception or kidnapping to work as slaves or poorly paid labourers.
NPWS responded to calls to rename the park by engaging an independent historian, Dr Mark Dunn, who provided a report on the history of Ben Boyd on the NSW South Coast.
Dr Dunn's report confirmed Ben Boyd's involvement in 'blackbirding', viewed by many at the time as a form of slavery. Renaming the park followed the NPWS Parks Name Policy where new park names should come from Aboriginal communities.
Environment Minister Matt Kean announced the decision that the park would be renamed on Sunday, November 14, 2021.
"It is time to acknowledge the real history of Ben Boyd and remove his name from the national park that continues to hold enormous cultural significance for Aboriginal people," Mr Kean said at the time.
Mr Cruse described the consultation period during the renaming process as "fair, open, and transparent" that local Indigenous people were interviewed one-on-one by anthropologists and historians.
"There were recommendations put through, and I was one of the people who made recommendations to the Minister, to give Aboriginal people equal opportunity to provide a name and give a cultural reason as to why it should be called that," Mr Cruse said.
He said the lengthy consultation period was due to interviews being conducted fairly with the multiple language groups in the area.
"It's not saying that one's right and the other's wrong. It's just acknowledging there was a lot of different language groups within a tribal area," he said.
NPWS have begun the process of installing park signage carrying the new name Beowa National Park.
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