Maniototo’s ‘mistake’ spelling retained

Richard Bowman, of Lake Hayes, enjoys a cuppa outside the Maniototo Cafe in Ranfurly. Photo:...
Richard Bowman, of Lake Hayes, enjoys a cuppa outside the Maniototo Cafe in Ranfurly. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The Maniototo will remain the Maniototo.

The Central Otago District Council has decided not to change the spelling of the community board and the council ward — despite many councillors recognising the accepted spelling is incorrect.

Yesterday, the council voted 11-1 to retain the spelling — only Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan voted against the motion.

The current spelling is Maniototo, which has no te reo Māori translation.

The proposed alternative spelling was Māniatoto, possibly from mānia meaning "plain" and toto meaning "a huge red blanket" or "a sea of red blood", as a reference to native sedge in the area.

The spelling change had been supported during representation review consultation by Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki, which was "wholeheartedly" in favour of changing the spelling.

At an extraordinary Maniototo Community Board meeting on Monday, the board voted 4-1 to recommend the spelling be kept as Maniototo.

During yesterday’s council meeting, Maniototo councillor Stu Duncan, who also sits on the community board, said the issue was one of the toughest he had faced as an elected member.

He felt about 90% of people in the community wanted to keep the spelling, despite some possibly being misinformed.

"People, at the moment, in the Maniototo, are comfortable with how it’s spelt.

"If you’re not prepared to listen ... what is the point of having a community board who can’t represent what the people are telling them?" he asked.

Mr Cadogan said the rūnaka’s position should be respected because the discussions concerned a te reo Māori word.

"What we have is ... something in the guise of a te reo name, that is a nullity — it means nothing," he said.

The spelling Maniototo had mistakenly been adopted by the council following local government reform in 1989.

"Is our mistake more important than a people’s language?" Mr Cadogan asked.

Cr Sarah Browne said while the spelling change was "inevitable", it was not right to ignore the community board’s recommendation.

"The timing’s not now."

Cr Lynley Claridge said the current spelling held meaning for the people of the Maniototo — a change should not be forced on them.

"It’s their world of difference; it’s their pride; it’s their Maniototo."

Community board chairman Rob Hazlett was pleased the council had backed the board.

"[I am] satisfied with their decision," he said after the meeting.

Rūnaka chairman Matapura Ellison thanked the council and community board for seeking all opinions on the issue.

"I do want to thank [them] for ensuring the views of mana whenua were taken into account in their considerations, which is very positive."

The rūnaka was unlikely to appeal the council’s resolution.

Richard Bowman, of Lake Hayes, said the community was "pretty conservative" and he was not surprised by the outcome.

"People don’t like change very much. I can understand that."

"Change can be quite messy sometimes.

"Obviously, people have to get used to the idea or accept it and then there will always be some who don’t. That’s the way it is."

The council’s decision, along with the final representation review, will be publicly notified for one month and any appeals or objections will be forwarded to the Local Government Commission. — Additional reporting Tim Scott

 

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