20 Feb 2015

'Wide support' for name change

9:06 am on 20 February 2015

Two Whanganui leaders say there is strong evidence from the community that more people are embracing the correct Maori spelling of the river city's name by adding an 'h'.

Wanganui District Council has received 1,939 public submissions on the spelling of the river city's name - but is not revealing what the public's preference is.

Recently, many business and organisations such as Sport Whanganui have added the 'h' in their name.

Whanganui River descendant Jay Rerekura said attitudes had changed since the occupation of Pakaitore (Moutoa Gardens) in 1995 which divided the community.

"I think was a catalyst which at the time brought out all of the ugliness around the relationship between local iwi and the local community, said Mr Rerekura.

"And in the past 20 years I think that we've crossed a lot of bridges and we have mended a lot of relationships ... I think there is a lot more respect in mainstream Whanganui ... I think the tide has changed."

Whanganui Iwi spokesperson Ken Mair said more people in the community were starting to respect the iwi's concerns to correct the spelling of the city's name:

"There is a large number of individuals and organisations within our community who have made that change for the right reasons, that is around spelling our name correctly and ensuring the integrity of our name.

"So I think in the next five, ten years there will be a general consensus that will clearly show that they [the community] believe in the name being spelt correctly with an 'h', said Mr Mair.