Māori Language Commissioner Erima Henare says debates around name changes such as adding a ‘h’ to Whanganui are storms in a teacup. The head of the Geographic Board says it was the advice of Te Taurawhiri i Te Reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission, that influenced the decision to recommend the change.
The board says early settlers always intended the name of the city should match that of the river. Mr Henare told Morning Report that alterations to place names elsewhere all faced initial opposition, but that quickly disappeared.
He said people have moved away from commonsense to take up polarised positions based on race and whether one group has more power than another. Mr Henare said it would be a sad day if Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson decides to reject the board’s decision.
Public law firm Chen Palmer founding partner Mai Chen says there’s no prescribed way the minister should make the decision, and it is entirely up to him. Mr Williamson says it’s an unenviable position to be in, but there’s no time limit on when he has to make his decision.
Tariana Turia’s view
Te Tai Hauauru MP Tariana Turia of Whanganui has welcomed the decision as the right thing to do. She told Waatea News it won’t affect the way the name is pronounced.
Michael Law’s view
Whanganui is “not a Māori word, but had a culture, heritage and mana all of its own” and that the The Geographic Board’s decision was “racist” (which interestingly Mr Laws continues to mispronounce), biased and failed to take referendum results into account.
Pita Sharples view
See the actions of tangata whenua as a gift, not an imposition,” Dr Sharples said after the Geographic Board recommended that the “h” be restored and the name spelt as “Whanganui“. The name Whanganui has a whakapapa, a history. It carries meaning and significance. The name must be spelt properly, otherwise it loses integrity.”
Your thoughts whānau?