Otaki Pupils May Get Good News

on Whanganui Soon

Kapiti Independent News
17th September 2009

The row over the spelling of Whanganui/Wanganui which saw Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws slagging off a group of Otaki pupils may be resolved soon.

The New Zealand Geographic Board will shortly decide whether Wanganui should have an “h” added to its name.

The board proposed that the spelling be changed to Whanganui after local iwi committee Te Runanga O Tupoho petitioned for the change.

But it was a move which was vehemently opposed by District Mayor Michael Laws.

A district-wide referendum held in May, with more than 19,000 Wanganui residents voting. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the board’s proposal.

Mr Laws has described the referendum result as “decisive and overwhelming”.

“They express unequivocal choices that no individual or organisation can possibly ignore.

“They provide both myself and my council with an exceptional mandate,” he says.

But a paper by historian Diana Beaglehole, commissioned by the Wanganui District Council, has concluded that Wanganui is the correct version.

In the paper, Ms Beaglehole has found that Wanganui first began appearing in written form in the late 1830s.