Council urged to alter spelling of Maniototo

The long-disputed spelling of an area of Central Otago is once again up for discussion, after iwi expressed their support for change.

The Maniototo Community Board will hold an extraordinary meeting on Monday night to decide its position on the proposed spelling change for the board and council ward.

The current spelling of the community board and council ward is Maniototo and the alternative spelling is Māniatoto.

Runaka manager Suzanne Ellison. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Runaka manager Suzanne Ellison. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
During representation review discussions at the Central Otago District Council (CODC) meeting in March, it was agreed there would not be consultation on the spelling of the Maniototo Community Board and ward. There had not been an overwhelming desire for change from the pre-consultation submissions nor support from the board or Aukaha.

However, in April during the public feedback period, Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki made a submission in favour of changing the spelling.

The representation review occurs every six years to assess all facets of representation in the district — including ward and board names.

In a letter to the council, rūnaka manager Suzanne Ellison said the rūnaka was "wholeheartedly" of the view the spelling of Maniototo should be changed.

"Once an error in spelling has been identified then it does seem beholden on decision-makers to rectify the mistake."

She urged the CODC to take the opportunity presented by the representation review to correct the spelling of the ward and the community board to Māniatoto.

The rūnaka had a long history with the area, through traditional places of occupation, mahiki kai (food and resource gathering) and trails connecting coastal settlements inland, she said.

"We acknowledge that for some people the change from the familiar will be unwelcome", Ms Ellison said.

"However, giving meaning back to the name through the spelling correction seems the sensible and correct thing to do."

The online Kāi Tahu atlas, Kā Huru Manu, suggested a possible explanation of the name Māniatoto — mānia meaning "plain" and toto meaning "a huge red blanket or a sea of red blood", as a reference to Buchanan’s sedge, a reddish brown native plant which was widespread in the South Island.

The Maniototo Community Board’s decision, along with other representation review matters, would be discussed at the council’s meeting on Wednesday.