21 Dec 2009

Turia relaxed about how Whanganui is pronounced

7:12 pm on 21 December 2009

Any media using an "f" sound to pronounce Whanganui will not upset the Maori Party. Co-leader Tariana Turia says it's up to individuals and organisations to choose what dialect they use.

A long campaign by local iwi for the city's name to be spelt with an "h" ended on Friday with an official ruling that it can be spelt either way.

The city's mayor, Michael Laws, local iwi and the MP for the wider electorate, Chester Borrows, all say that irrespective of spelling, the "h" must remain silent.

Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand have decided that in the interests of national consistency the city will be pronounced as Whanganui, with an "f" sound.

In the local dialect used by Whanganui iwi members, including Mrs Turia, the "wh" is sounded more like a "w". But she says that media's decision to go with the "f" sound is understandable, in light of the wish for consistency with names like Whangarei.

Mrs Turia, the MP for Te Tai Hauauru, says that in time she expects all people to adopt the spelling that includes the "h".

She told Waatea News opposition to its inclusion would dissipate if Wanganui residents dumped their mayor Michael Laws.

Mrs Turia says a change at the top in the next local body elections would certainly increase acceptance of the correct spelling.