Give me an ‘H’ for Whanganui!

The Geographic Board has spoken. Unanimously. Whanganui should get its ‘H’ back, as the original settlers intended. I can hear the howls and gnashing of teeth from the Mayor’s office all the way over here in Wellington. The invective is flowing, (not that it ever stops flowing from the bombastic Mayor), with Laws labeling everyone who doesn’t agree with him a racist, and the Council will appeal the ruling.

The real irony is that John Key’s cast off Minister, Maurice Williamson, gets the final say. I’ll bet John wasn’t thinking about this when he stashed the unwanted Minister over at Land Information!

Spelling mistake, eh? Let’s get it corrected and move on, a little better informed. Kudos to those courageous souls at Te Runanga O Tupoho, who have seen this project through over a very long time.

62 Comments Posted

  1. A linguistic professor talking to Chris Laidlaw said that Maori probably pronounced Wanganui “both ways”.

    In the same program Moana Jackson tells us that the principle of “one man one vote” shouldn’t apply in Aotearoa; democracy should come “from the land”. Pakeha made this their home” but Maori “lived” here [from memory]. I’m sure Green Party would understand. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Chris Laidlaw fawns uncritically (or seems to).

  2. my favourite comment on this was txted by someone to nat-rad..

    they said that ..

    ..’wanganui could borrow thames’ ‘h’..

    ..’cos they aren’t using it..’


  3. Ahem – those that live in Vegas have already voted – 77% in favour of keeping the same name – and change now comes in jackboots.
    All that Protesting against Aparthied – and we got it in our Parliament, meanwhile Mandela is President over there.
    Mayhap there’s a ‘Bermuda Traiangle’ @ 45% south – where everything goes backwards – when I grow up, I want to be a child.
    A self-centred greedy little monster of a child.

  4. As I recall the justification for changing the spelling of Wanganui is that the present spelling is a minor mistake? If so, will we be pedantic about tangata whenua, mana whenua and look objectively at kaitiaki responsibilities?Tangata whenua refers to Maori who live in an area and those (Maori) who visit. Refering to Ken Mairs iwi as tangata whenua (for example) is meaningless, given that the Pakeha population have lived there for over a 150 years and there have probably been many more pakeha born and buried in Wanganui than Maori.

  5. Your comment and Fin’s “Languages (unless youโ€™re talking about Latin or a dead language) evolve.” pretty much sum up wy I’d say te current spelling sould stay.
    Anyway, betca te minister opts for bot spellings as correct.

  6. Wasn’t the Maori language unwritten, originally? Was Wanganui settled before it became a written language? If so, how can it be determined that the original settlers wanted an “H”?

    But what do the present people of Wananui want? Would the Green party support what the people want? If not, why not?

  7. I bet a lot of people who oppose the h would compromise and accept Whanganui if the alternative was Petre (which I believe is correctly pronounced ‘peter’)

  8. as the original settlers intended

    I am pretty sure that the original settlers intended for what is now called Wanganui to be called Petre. If we cannot make our minds up about an h, then I propose that we simply re-name Wanganui to Petre.

  9. Perhaps we should rename this one as well.


    I suggest “Little Piddle”, which is a place name from England and therefore valid.

  10. It would be interesting to know how Waikouaiti came to be pronounced completely differently to how it is spelt.

    If we didn’t have different spelling for differnt dialects, we’d have to change Waitaki (River / Valley / District) to Waitangi, which might be confusing. Or would it go the other way around?

    Then we’d have the Treaty of Waitaki.

  11. Yes, I remember being told than something was in Wackowai – I spent ages looking at a map, trying to work out where they were referring to.

  12. How long is a root? (careful!)
    As long as a piece of string, I suppose.

    “I’m waiting for yous to be the official plural of you”
    It already is where I come from
    (“yous ones” is a dialectical alternative)

    My hope is that one day he’ll be a law unto himself.

  13. Greenfly, Please elaborate on how long a root your talking about. Would 6 generations be long enough? How about 10 or 20?
    Languages (unless you’re talking about Latin or a dead language) evolve. I’m waiting for yous to be the official plural of you. Place names are surely not immune to this, especially if inhabitants change over time.
    However I agree completely with your comments about the rashist, so bring out the H ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. greenfly – I was going to mention fighting for your home provincial company or battalion on the battlefields…..

    So what of those who’ve fought and died for Otago, if it is changed to national Maori spelling instead of local dialect (like the current h issue)?

    It raises an interesting point, and also I think shows that there is probably a difference in strength of feeling about the name of where you live, vs the name of a landmark where no one lives- Mt Taranaki, Aoraki etc

    Taranaki is probably another one that’s not quite right. Like many places in Africa it’s effectively double named. i.e. early explorers would ask locals what’s that river / desert etc called? Answer – “Zaire” / “Sahara”

    Hence we have the Zaire River and Sahara Desert which translate to “river river” and “deserts desert”

    In the same way the “Mount” should probably be dropped form Mt Taranaki (or should that more correctly be “Tara-a-naki”?

  15. Thank you Kahikatea, that’s most gracious. I’ll arrange for Mayor Tim to receive them at an appropriately grand function, probably in Gorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre.

    Perhaps Bill English could bring them, when he’s next heading for the family home at Dipton. (So I’ll not expect them til 2011).

  16. Photo – think we should have stuck with Mt Egmont then? Should we go back now, because the old guard can’t get their tongues around Taranaki (the Nakee of course, is the compromise)
    Interesting that you cite ‘fighting for something on the sports-field’ as a reason to keep a name. What if you’d fought for it on the battle-field?

  17. greenfly
    Posted September 18, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    > Southlanders and Jaffas say their โ€˜rโ€™s very differently. Itโ€™s a dialectical difference. Should Jaffas have to spell every word that has a โ€˜rโ€™ in it differently? Probably ๐Ÿ™‚

    Southlanders pronounce their r differently from everyone else. I would stick with just changing the spelling of place names to reflect the local pronunciation. North Shore City has two Rs that it’s not using – they should be taken off them and given to Invercargill, where they would be treated with much more respect.

  18. With what seems like half the names in the country being wrong, at what point do you leave them alone and respect the wishes of those who live there.

    In general most people usually reject any changes to the place they have lived all their life – the place they may have fought for on the sports field etc, even when the name is proven to be wrong (be it a Maori or European name). In many cases a name may have more character and be more individual because of an ancient mistake.

    With Michael Laws people usually love him or hate him, but regardless of that he does have a point about the rights of the people who have lived all their lives in Wanganui / Whanganui / W’anganui.

    It seems to me that the h was originally dropped out of Wanganui in respect for the local dialect.

    If it’s put back in, will it not change over the years? Is there not a risk that the unique local pronounciation of Wanganui will be lost, homogenised into national norms of pronounciation?

  19. I wasted my time trying to talk sense over Kiwiblog.

    Their self worth must be very low if the threat of an H being added to Wanganui sends them into such a panic.

    “bloody Maoris, what will they tell us to spell correctly next!”

  20. All in Place Shunda – we’re just going to shave the right Vertical in the “A” of Auckland – it’ll be historically more correct then….oh and Wellington has been renamed ‘Kaitangata’ in Honor of it’s New Deal Democracy…..and the Maori Party….?….why… the “Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight” of course….who cares what they think?

  21. greenfly – that takes me back to my first point – that it was local Maori who insisted that it was wrong to have the h in the first place, and had it removed.

  22. photo – you’d have to ask them. Crediting Kai Tahu with the ‘correct’ names is doubtful too of course, as they weren’t the first of the scene by any means ๐Ÿ™‚

    No Tahunanui ahau

  23. Photo – I’d ask the locals with roots in the area (long roots that is). I don’t think I’d rely on opinion , especially that which has been manufactured by a vocal, self-interested attention-seeker, with an agenda to ‘make himself visible on the national stage’.
    I’d be especially interested to hear from those who have an oral history emphasis – they tend to have the real oil on what happened i nga wa o mua.

  24. Why stop with Whhhhhhhanganui? I think Wellington should be spelt Whellington and pronounced fell-ing-ton.
    Nelson, Nelphson, (Nel-pfffffft-son)
    Gore, phuckinshitole
    Greymouth, Rhedneckinville
    Kumara, Youclosedourphukinpubandnowwehateeverybody
    The list goes on.

  25. Which makes me an apologian Toad – sorry – prone to egrerious opinion before breakfast… what did you want to call Auckland by the by?
    New City, New Name What Hey? – or maybe just sell out your Votes for some meaningless kiss-off that isn’t even true?
    Better strike Mana offa the Map then – we’re all outa that stuff….

  26. Greenfly – that raises the question, when is it appropriate to have different spelling for different dialects?

    We have different spelling for some southern Maori words. Should they all be homgenised as well?

    If would mean a lot of places being pronounced differently to how they are spelt.

  27. How did they get Kilmog out of kirimoko? (dumb whalers)

    Nearby towns are Waitati (should be Waitete), and

    Waikouaiti, which is correct but has an bartardised and widely used local pronounciation of “whack-a-white”.

  28. photonz1 says: If different sounds (from different dialects) should be spelt different ways

    Southlanders and Jaffas say their ‘r’s very differently. It’s a dialectical difference. Should Jaffas have to spell every word that has a ‘r’ in it differently? Probably ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. kahikatea says “Actually, โ€˜Otagoโ€™ is correct. The idea that it should be โ€˜Otakouโ€™ comes from a (largely successful) attempt to impose northern dialects on southern Maori.”

    If different sounds (from different dialects) should be spelt different ways, then surely Whanganui with an h is wrong, as it is not pronounced that way.

    Similarly Wanganui with no h is also wrong, and if it was to be written correctly perhaps it should be written W’anganui with an ‘ apostrophe – the way that it used to be spelt by Wanganui and Taranaki Maori in the past to show the sound they used was NOT the same as “Wh” or a “W”.

  30. Mark, the link is to, which quotes some of the more unpleasant comments on the Kiwiblog thread – not to Kiwiblog itself.

    There is a link from to Kiwiblog for authentication purposes, but I’m not encouraging anyone to use it.

  31. The Kaitahu ‘g’ eh! How about the ‘l’ in Waihola – hola!
    Awarua/Avalua, Rarotoka/Rarotonga but the best must be the Kilmog, north of Dunedin – that can’t be Maaori, can it? (clue: Yes)

  32. Hah! The law of unintended consequences eh!
    Mythologian Mark?
    Do the mares of Diomedes remind you of said law?
    Gnash, gnash!
    That’s the reason our capital city is named for a gumboot!
    My vote:Submarineville.

  33. cut it out Toadie; I’m not going to Kiwiblog – tradition and good taste insist otherwise.
    Fly – the Law is a Mare Not an Ass – forgiveable mistake to make when they’re standing on your whoot.
    Haven’t renamed Wgtn yet on the new Map – there’s a mortaorium on because it’ll be underwater in a few moons (with a bit of luck!)

  34. Actually, ‘Otago’ is correct. The idea that it should be ‘Otakou’ comes from a (largely successful) attempt to impose northern dialects on southern Maori.

    I’m too much of a southerner to know about the other Maori examples you gave, but you’re right about ‘wakatipu’ being incorrect.

  35. You gotta love the soft little ‘wh’ that escapes the lips of Whaea Tariana when she says it though, don’cha?

    Ka pai te tangi.

  36. If we are going to correct things, then we shouldn’t be New Zealand. We should be Aotearoa, and then we could all be Aotearoaeans, or should that be Aotearoaese. Or if we use the European name, Tasman called us Staten Landt, then we were called Nova Zelandia, and Nieuw Zeeland, then Zeelandia Nova, then Austral-France, and New Zeland, as well as Zelandia, Seelandia, Selandia, and Zeelandia, as well as New Zealand (which is most likely wrong as it’s a corruption of Zeeland).

    Then there’s Otago – that’s wrong as well.
    So is Timaru.
    So is Tauranga
    So is Taupo
    So is Mount Maunganui
    And Lake Wakatipu etc etc etc

  37. I spent some time in Petone as a kid. I like Petone. The name Petone is not a Maori (forgive me if this should’ve been a small m or 2 As) word, nor is it an English word. It’s a Kiwi word. And I like Petone even more because of this. Uncle Wik told me that ‘Pito-one’ is what Petone is derrived from. I.e. the original Maori spelling/pronounciation.
    Personally I’m apathetic about the H in Whanganui, but if Laws is against the H, then bring out the H!

  38. My Iwi Fly – and if it’s really you Bro – hit the road with your ACT.
    Te Rangiheata went on endlessly about his Waikanae, Wanganui Waihi and ednless others – why do modern day half-bloods decry this…
    Sorry Frog – blip me if it’s wrong to ask – but 84% of the Indigenous Kiwi’s Voted the other way.
    Could this be Keys, Helen Clark Moment?
    Where the bounds of freedom are let slip for the Emperor?
    and the peoples voice is lost……again
    Say so John – the Fly ‘ll give you a bit of stick
    and the rest of us will remain disappointed

  39. Well its not looking good for Whanganui if John Key is to be believed – he said the majority should rule – oh, hang on a sec – that referendum about those fathers who wanted to spank their naughty daughters. Silly me, expecting consistency from The Goober. DOH!

  40. I am sure it’s a long way from over too. But I suppose if the entire kindergarten insists on spellin the word wrong, the teacher might as well just surrender to the illiterate…

  41. This one is a long way from being over Frog, I suspect the people of Wanganui will not take kindly to having their democratic choice shoved back in their face.

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