Everyone else seems to be putting their 50c worth in for this whole Whanganui verses Wanganui thing that I thought I might as well add my voice as well.

The situation is far from simple but here are a few points to consider.

  1. Was the intention of the city founders to have a a Maori or an English name? Another good example is the town of Timaru. Is that name a Maori or an English one? Just for the record Timaru is a transliteration of the word Te Maru.
  2. Is it ok for one culture to miss-spell and miss-pronounce the language of another culture? If you argue that its not ok then you will probably need to re-write most of your maps and books. Europe is full of Anglicised place names which often bear no resemblance to the original names the natives use. Consider the correct names for Germany and Japan for instance.
  3. Local Maori pronunciation of the word Whanganui would be said with a soft W sound at the beginning of the word rather than the more common F sound that the rest of the country uses. Should we therefore be concerned with the pronunciation of the word or the spelling? If its the pronunciation then we need to keep the current spelling as the rest of the country will pronounce the Wh as an F.
  4. Should the cost of changing a city;s name even be considered? and is the cost argument even relevant?
  5. Should democracy be allowed to even come into such a question? and if so should a democratic decision be allowed even if it is wrong?

The issue seems to be about more than just the spelling of a city name though. The real issue which remains unspoken  is which racial group has the most control. This is probably why neither Maori or those of European descent want to be seen to be “giving in”.

As for me – I would prefer to miss-spell the city name so that people would at least pronounce it correctly.