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Parliament’s Decision Welcomed by Tariana Turia

The Hon Tariana Turia
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Te Tai Hauauru
Thursday 6 December 2012

Parliament’s Decision Welcomed by Tariana Turia

The gazetting of ‘Whanganui’ as an ‘alternative official geographic name’ has been greeted with great pleasure by Te Tai Hauāuru MP, Tariana Turia.

“Somewhat ironically, the correct meaning for the name, Whanganui is the long wait (Whanga meaning to wait; nui meaning large or long). The name originates from the time of Kupe, the great navigator; Te Whanga-nui-a-Kupe.

“I think today of the long wait for Whanganui iwi for the correct spelling of Whanganui to be recognised. There have been local body referenda; District Council meetings; submissions to the New Zealand Geographic Board and finally Minister Williamson’s decision in December 2009 to gazette Whanganui and Wanganui as alternative geographic names.

That decision was then held in limbo by the Green Party who were the only party to oppose the current Statutes Amendment Bill. Statutes Amendment Bills only occur when there is unanimous support across the House, so I am relieved that finally, after three years of delay the Greens have allowed the Bill to proceed”.

“The name Whanganui has a meaning and a history that is unique to the Whanganui river, the rohe, and the iwi. It always was and always will be a Māori word. This is about te reo Māori. It is about identity. It is about culture.

I am pleased that the decision today reinforces the integrity of the Māori language, as well as restoring the mana of Whanganui iwi.

“The impact on iwi identity by the use of the corrupted word (Wanganui) instead of Whanganui, has been immense.

When a people’s identity is so closely linked to a word, as is the case for Whanganui iwi, it has been difficult to endure the consistently incorrect spelling and pronunciation. There is nothing that fills your heart with such gladness than to hear your mita (dialect) pronounced correctly; particularly when you are far from home.

“The existence of alternative names takes into account that it may take some time for changes to be made, to enable the correct spelling of Whanganui to be formalised. By formally gazetting both Whanganui and Wanganui, the legislation allows for that process to occur. I hope that all Crown entities and government departments take a lead, when they are replacing signage and letterheads, in acknowledging respect for te reo Māori, respect for the iwi of Whanganui – by using Whanganui with an h.

I join with the people from home in celebrating this momentous legislative change.

E rere kau mai te awa mai Te Kahui Maunga ki Tangaroa
Ko au te awa ko te awa ko au

The river flows from the mountains to the sea
I am the river and the river is me

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