It’s Whanganui with an “h”, says the Geographic Board.
But the icing on the cake for local Maori and their gaggle of PC-besotted supporters is that Wanganui doesn’t exist. Not legitimately.
It’s a bastard city, you could say.
Given the board’s dubious composition and its running orders, of course, the great majority of the people of the city never stood a chance.
True, adding the “h” isn’t a done deal. A consultation process now must be entered.
“The public” will be given three months to make submissions on the proposed name change.
But as Alf has noted, some members of the public carry more weight than other members of the public under the board’s procedures.
Mayor Michael Laws – speaking for the majority in his city – accordingly has a much better chance of raising the level of the Whanganui River by pissing into it than he does of resisting the “h”.
Stuff reports that Laws is not pleased and has “slammed” the board’s decision.
”This is a direct attack upon our city and our citizens.”
Mr Laws said the decision was “morally and historically wrong, and will be resisted with all effort and endeavour by the Wanganui District Council and the vast majority of the citizens of Wanganui.”
In a 2006 referendum, 18 percent of people voted for the ”h”.
But get this
Geographic Board chairman Don Grant is quoted as saying:
”Wanganui, the name given to the town to reflect its position near the mouth of the Whanganui river, was spelt incorrectly and has never been formally gazetted by this Board or its predecessors.
”It is therefore not currently an official New Zealand place name.”
He said the board had carefully considered the Wanganui District Council’s views opposing the spelling change, and acknowledged that the name Wanganui had a long history of local usage.
However, he said early settlers “clearly intended the name of the city to be derived from the Maori name of the river, and consistent modern usage of the language showed the spelling should be Whanganui, not Wanganui.”
Consistent modern usage of the language by who, exactly?
Not by more than 80% of the locals, obviously.
But a much more bothersome implication of these bizarre goings-on is that dozens of other towns, cities, mountains and what-have-you similarly might not have official names.
The bloody board could be doing a brisk business for the next several years, giving all sorts of places new names with an “h”.