Whanganui it is

Maori Party Welcomes
Whanganui Spelling

Kapiti Independent News
18th September 2009
By Alan Tristram

PitaSharplesThe Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, has welcomed the NZ Geographic Board’s recommendation that the ‘h’ be restored to the name of Whanganui city.

Kapiti Independent News says the decision vindicates the group of Otaki schoolchildren who incurred the wrath of Michael Laws when they wrote to him asking for the new spelling.

In his comment, Dr Sharples says: “I can understand the feelings of generations of citizens who have adopted the name Wanganui and identify with it.

“I would like to invite people of good will to look again, to see the actions of tangata whenua as a gift, not an imposition. This is an offer to share their heritage, culture and history with all the people of the city.

“Correcting the name, and the implicit recognition of that gift, could be a powerful unifying force in the life and future of the city,” he says..

“Look at the Maori language itself. Only a generation ago, Maori Language Week was widely criticised as highly divisive, a backward move for the country, forcing the language down the throats of unwilling New Zealanders,”he says.

“In thirty years, te reo Maori has become a vital part of our nation’s culture, a source of pride for Maori, a badge of honour for Kiwis overseas, and a symbol of our collective identity.

“The name Whanganui has a whakapapa, a history. It carries meaning and significance. The name must be spelt properly, otherwise it loses integrity,” says Dr Sharples.

“Is it really appropriate to identify a major city by a name that has been misappropriated from tangata whenua, that tries to deny its whakapapa, that is a parallel import, a cultural fake?

“I call upon the citizens of Whanganui to take a golden opportunity, to show pride in Maori history and embrace Maori language, treasures which make us unique on the global scene,” says Dr Sharples.