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Alternative names Wanganui or Whanganui official

Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister for Land Information

18 December 2009
Media Statement

Alternative names Wanganui or Whanganui to become official

The official geographic name for the city of Wanganui will be the alternatives ‘Whanganui’ or ‘Wanganui’, Minister for Land Information Maurice Williamson announced today.

“My intention to assign alternative names for the city allows people to choose the name they prefer.

“During extensive consultation it became clear to me that local iwi were seeking an acknowledgement of something that is very important to them. They wanted recognition and respect for their history and their language.

“It was equally clear that the majority of the city’s residents did not want change forced on them.

“On balance I believe that alternative naming respectfully acknowledges the correct spelling of the Māori word “Whanganui”. It also respects the views of those who have always known the city’s name to be spelt “Wanganui”.

“I have been mindful of the potential disruption and transition costs associated with changing the name of a city, but I am also mindful that New Zealand has two official languages.

“My expectation is that all official documents will be able to use either form of the spelling as the official city name. However, Crown agencies will be expected to move to the name “Whanganui” over time.” Mr Williamson said.

Crown agencies will be asked to update signage, publications and other official documents as part of their normal business cycle to ensure they do not spend additional money as a result of this decision.

A minor technical correction to current legislation will be required. This will be addressed in the New Year after which Mr Williamson’s decision will be formalised and gazetted by the New Zealand Geographic Board.

ENDS

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