Correct spelling of Ōpōtiki
At a recent meeting of the Ōpōtiki District Council [subs Tuesday 5 June], Council voted to start the process to correct the official spelling of the District name through Land Information New Zealand, ensuring the inclusion of the macrons in Ōpōtiki.
Council is currently carrying out a Rapid Numbering and Road Renaming project to ensure the correct numbering and naming of all addresses and roads in the district. As part of that process, it has become apparent that the name ‘Ōpōtiki’ is misspelled in the Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) database as there are no macrons in the name.
Macrons are the small dash above a vowel showing a longer vowel sound. They are crucial in Te Reo as they tell you how to pronounce a word and are crucial to a word’s meaning.
Ōpōtiki Councillor, Arihia Tuoro explained the importance of starting the process of correcting the spelling and the flow on effects.
“Around the community, we already use macrons in the name Ōpōtiki – it is our tikanga, our place name, so there is no question that there should be macrons for it to make sense.
“Council has long used macrons in our signage and documents. Many other institutions around the district already use the macrons as well – schools, community groups and so on. By going through the official process, Council is formalising this use and recognising the importance of the macrons and our commitment to partnership with local iwi. It will provide a clear and consistent name and recognise the importance of Te Reo and tikanga, particularly in place names,” Ms Tuoro said.
As Council starts the process, there will be a formal consultation period for people to express their views through the New Zealand Geographic Board.
“It is also important to note that once it goes through the formal process, there won’t be a legal requirement for business and groups to change their name. They can use or not use macrons at their own discretion.
“As Council already uses the correct spelling in most signage, we don’t anticipate extra costs for ratepayers. But it would mean that other government agencies such as NZTA [New Zealand Transport Agency] would replace or alter signs as part of their normal renewal or damage replacement programme.
“For us, this is taking a formal step to ratify a name that is already in use in our community,” Ms Tuoro said.
Fun side quote: “When you take care to spell Māori words correctly and in a way that corresponds to the sound of te reo Māori it draws attention to the fact that the words are being treated as Māori words and that the language is valued,” says Lee Smith, kaitiaki reo ki Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission).