Board to decide Wanganui spelling

The New Zealand Geographic Board will this week decide over whether Wanganui should have the letter "h" added.

The spelling of the city's name has been subject to controversy over the past two months after iwi group Te Runanga o Tupoho's applied to change the name to Whanganui.

A formal complaint was laid with police after the bronze W was removed from two signs on the council's office buildings and replaced with a plastic "Wh".

Mayor Michael Laws, an arch opponent of any change, has also had a rock thrown through a window of his house.

Mr Laws said the argument should have been resolved in 2006 when a referendum was held.

"The overwhelming results -- 82 percent -- voted for Wanganui's name to remain as it has been for 170 years."

New Zealand Geographic Board would consider the referendum, secretary Wendy Shaw said.

"While the board gives considerable weight to those (majority) views, it must also weigh those up against its statutory functions regarding spelling and original Maori place names," she said.

Past decisions had generally favoured community views, she said.

Te Runanga o Tupoho head Den Mair told the paper he was "quietly confident" the name would be changed.

The board will decide the issue on Friday and announce its decision on Monday morning.


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