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"It’s what we don’t need," Sir Tipene said when contacted, asked for comment on Mr Laws’ response.
"We need to get a conversation going about these matters rather than tearing people to bits," Sir Tipene told the Otago Daily Times.
The new Whakatipu Wildlife Trust, which was launched last week, has prompted a conversation about its use of the ‘h’ in Whakatipu.
"Wakatipu" has traditionally been spelt without an ‘h’, but Sir Tipene told media using the Whakatipu spelling was correct and good and Whakatipu had been misspelled and mispronounced for decades.
Cr Laws, who in 2009 was publicly outraged when the New Zealand Geographic board added an "h" to the historic spelling of "Wanganui" — the district he was mayor of at the time, has again spoken out publicly against the use of a correct Maori place-name spelling.
He strongly disagreed any spelling changes should be undertaken and thought the local community should decide on what their district was called, not Sir Tipene, who lives in Canterbury, he said when contacted this week.
Sir Tipene is a former chairman of the Ngai Tahu Maori Trust board, which was replaced in 1997, was on the New Zealand Geographic board for 28 years, until 2013 and is now on Ngai Tahu’s heritage and identity advisory board.
Whakatipu has no direct translation, but Sir Tipene said it was a matter of consistency as eight other places in the area started with "Whaka".
The Dart River, near Glenorchy, for example, was traditionally called Te Awa Whakatipu and Lake McKerrow in the Fiordland National Park was Whakatipu Waitai.
He said Ngai Tahu has not made any formal move to change the spelling.
Anyone can put forward an application to the New Zealand Geographic Board to have a place name changed or spelling corrected. Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said he did not imagine there would be any official moves to add an ‘h’ to Wakatipu, but it would be nice to see it spelled correctly more often over a period of time.
He thought the change could take 20 years.
- Mandy Cooper