Board resists name change to Māniatoto

The Maniototo Community Board and ward may become Māniatoto following discussions at council...
The Maniototo Community Board and ward may become Māniatoto following discussions at council today. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Central Otago community board has voted to keep the spelling of its name the same - but that may be overturned today.

The current spelling is Maniototo - the suggested alternative spelling is Māniatoto.

At an extraordinary Maniototo Community Board meeting, held digitally on Monday night, the board decided 4-1 to retain their position on the spelling of the community board and council ward.

The change to the Māniatoto name had been submitted by Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki, which was "wholeheartedly" in favour of changing the spelling.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times after the meeting, board chairman Rob Hazlett said most community board members wanted the spelling to stay the same, despite iwi supporting the change.

"That was my feeling - they [the rūnaka] don’t live here," he said.

"Everyone who was against it said ‘it’s our community, it’s our decision’."

He hoped the Central Otago District Council would uphold the board’s decision.

Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki chairman Matapura Ellison said the proposed spelling change would reinstate the integrity of the place-name - he hoped the council would support the change.

"Maniototo as it currently stands, doesn’t make sense."

It was important the rūnaka honour te reo Māori by correcting wrongly spelt Māori place-names.

"We will succeed best when we can achieve this alongside the relevant community," Mr Ellison said.

"Māniatoto is such a beautifully descriptive name, which we think everyone should want to cherish."

A possible explanation of the name Māniatoto is mānia meaning "plain" and toto meaning "a huge red blanket or a sea of red blood", as a reference to native plant Buchanan’s sedge.

There is no te reo Māori translation for Maniototo.

The board’s decision would go to a meeting of the CODC today, which has the power to change the decision.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan was at the board meeting on Monday night and said while the board’s decision was hugely influential, the council would make the final decision.

Council staff had been using the Māniatoto name for a couple of years.