Whanganui/Wanganui - both names official

Both place names 'Wanganui' and 'Whanganui' have been recognised as official names of the city in Parliament today.

Amendments to the Geographic Board Act 2008 would be passed in Parliament today and included in the Statutes Amendment Bill.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson said an amendment would clear up some confusion over alternative place names.

He said not all alternative place names would need to be listed in official documents or publications.

The amendment passed in Parliament today clarified that either name, or both, could be used.

"An example of this is Wanganui and Whanganui - either of which can be used in official documentation following the passing of this legislation," said Mr Williamson.

The Government reached a compromise in 2009 between local iwi and other residents, that Wanganui could be spelled with or without an h.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson announced the same year the official geographic name for the city could be either 'Wanganui' or 'Whanganui'. The New Zealand Geographic Board decided the spelling should be changed to the Maori version, Whanganui, but locals voted four to one against.

At the time Mr Williamson said the compromise would avoid getting the Maori Party offside, while leaving opponents with the option of continuing with the h-less spelling. Government agencies were told to include the "h" as soon as they could.

Two referendums were held on the issue, in 2006 and 2009, and results were in favour of keeping the spelling as Wanganui.

- Kate Shuttleworth of APNZ

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