Letters to the Editor: Te Tiriti, macrons and council rates

Lake Wānaka. Photo: ODT files
Lake Wānaka. Photo: ODT files
Using correct macrons for southern lake names

I wish to comment on the incorrect assumptions of the New Zealand Geographic Board and the ODT of the need to place a macron over the first vowel for the place names Hawea and Wanaka.

This has been engendered by the misconception that the name Hawea means "doubt". However, Lake Hawea is named after the eponymous ancestor Hawea-i-te-raki, hence the Kāti Hawea branch of the Waitaha people.

That was the consensus among South Island Māori interviewed by James Herries Beattie. Names of Hawea-i-te-raki’s descendants were used as place names in and around lakes Hawea and Wanaka.

I descend from these people and my whānau had rights at lakes Hawea and Wanaka.

In old whakapapa this ancestral name Hawea is rendered in different ways, such as Awearaki, Awe-a-raki, We-a-Raki, Aweraki, Wearaki or Whearaki. In the Awhearaki example we can see a shift where the "h" is sometimes dropped, as to be expected, and the initial "a" sound is not pronounced.

This point in particular gives an indication that the name is a variation of Haw(h)ea-raki, and is from the verb whawhe serving as the inspiration. Edward Tregear’s Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary notes this word whawhe means to come or go around; hawhe; to go or come around; awhe, to pass round or behind, while whawhea is to be blown away by the wind.

An example of the word whawhea used in the Williams Dictionary of the Māori Language is to put round, gird on, or encircle.

Hence, the initial element of the Awe-raki name is the word whawhe, which is also the case with the name Hawea-i-te-raki. A translation of this last name would mean to encircle the sky.

In the case of Wanaka; this name is not originally wānanga as some would like to believe. Instead, the earliest rendering of this name is either Oanaka or Whanaka. The "o" sound signifies a possessive, hence the place of someone called Anaka or Whanaka. Thus, like the Hawea example, no macron is required.

Irian Scott

Port Chalmers

[New Zealand Geographic Board chairman Anselm Haanen replies: On behalf of the board, I thank Irian Scott for raising awareness of the ancestral names for Hāwea and Wānaka and for sharing their traditional stories, which align with the board’s kōrero.

For the use of macrons, the board upholds the orthographic conventions published by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission) and relies on the expert advice of licensed translators to ensure the standardised written form is used.

The use of the macrons was recently confirmed for both Lake Hāwea and Lake Wānaka.

Ngāi Tahu’s online cultural heritage atlas, Kā Huru Manu, also lists the names with macrons. Kā Huru Manu includes information about the origin of "Wānaka" stating that the name "Oanaka" originated from an orthographic error where the "W" was misheard and written as "O".

Both names have been made official by the board and we encourage people to use them with the macrons.

As New Zealand’s place naming authority we work hard to make sure official place names are correct, and we are confident this is the case for Hāwea and Wānaka.

Official place names and their stories are available on the New Zealand Gazetteer: gazetteer.linz.govt.nz]

Otago Daily Times style is to use official New Zealand place names, as gazetted by the NZ Geographic Board — Editor


The Pipes and Drums of Dunedin Inc are celebrating their 50th anniversary on April 13 2024. For further information please email raylenevenables@sahoo.co.nz

Work prioritised by age and condition of assets

Recently there was an article informing ratepayers of a potential double-digit rates increase and it makes me wonder where all our Dunedin City Council rates money is going.

One area of concern for me is all the roadworks currently happening all around our city but in particular around the periphery of High St.

Why is the DCC wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars replacing footpaths that are not well used and are in good condition when there is an overwhelming need for regular maintenance of our very neglected roads?

The debt that we as a city of around 120,000 people owe is huge and the interest on the debt is out of control.

Sue Todd


[We always prioritise our work across the city based on age and condition of the assets involved. In the case of the footpath renewal work in the vicinity of High St, sections of the footpath are more than 30 years old in some places and in need of renewal. We also continue to invest in other renewal work across the city’s transport network as required. — Jeanine Benson, group manager transport, Dunedin City Council]

Bus service plan

The headline "Bus service plan unlikely to be funded" (ODT, 21.2.24) identified a lack of support for a public service that is disappointing but hardly a surprise, especially given the present government’s Scroogian ideology.

I have been waiting for the bus to come since 1978 when, from memory, the Friday return "shopper’s bus" service between Taieri Mouth and Dunedin ceased.

It’s been a long wait.

Tony Reeder

Kuri Bush

A Treaty is fine but how about a constitution?

James Hegarty accuses your correspondent Alan Baxter, of distorting facts. I did not read Mr Baxter’s letter, which puts me at a disadvantage; however, I am saddened to know that I likely belong to what Mr Hegarty claims to be an intellectually incompetent 8.64% sector of New Zealand’s voters, by regarding the Treaty in its present form, with all it portends now and going into the future, as possibly no longer fit-for-purpose.

His is not the "vibe" I have heard from the wider community, where there is support in some quarters for a re-examination of the Treaty in the light of the massive changes that have taken place in New Zealand society since 1840.

Act New Zealand leader David Seymour is not advocating radical change, per se; he seems more interested in a re-evaluation of the validity of what a Treaty, set in concrete getting on for 200 years ago, drafted in some cases in rather vague terms by missionaries only tolerated on sufferance by many Maori, offers to meet the needs of a country and society which could not conceivably have been more different from the New Zealand of today.

Bear in mind also, that the Treaty was enacted with the British Crown, not a government as such, and that our ties with Britain in this, the 21st century, differ greatly from what they had been post Treaty in 1840.

Maori are keen to retain the Treaty as the country’s "founding document", but what is long overdue is a constitution setting out the rights of all New Zealanders.

Should aspects of the Treaty be incorporated into such a document after careful consideration of all the implications that would raise, then so be it.

Ian Smith



A thanksgiving and closing service for the Tokarahi Presbyterian Church will be held on March 3, 2pm in the church, followed by afternoon tea.