Wanganui's big decision

By Yvonne Tahana

Institutions in Wanganui say they will not necessarily change should the decision be made to officially add an "h" to the town's name.

A public consultation by the New Zealand Geographic Board gets under way tomorrow.

The Wanganui Chronicle is at 153 the country's oldest newspaper. If the board recommended changing the spelling to Whanganui the daily paper would not necessarily do the same.

Chief reporter Colin Rowatt said some readers responded to an April Fool's joke the Chronicle played by cancelling subscriptions and sending in hate mail.

"We suggested that we might, if things happen, put the h in Wanganui. But because of the width of the page and the size of our masthead we couldn't fit Whanganui and Chronicle. We were going to have to take the h out of Chronicle and put it in Wanganui."

While the paper was having a light-hearted dig, mastheads were important. "That's our flag. We've been flying that for years. It's tradition, it's the way it's always been." Mr Rowatt said iwi organisations and a few businesses were using the h, and it was probably a move more would make in time.

Wanganui Collegiate, founded in 1854, finds itself in the odd position of having an h in the governing board - Whanganui College Board of Trustees - while omitting it in the school's title.

Dale Cobb, Wanganui Rugby Union's chief executive, said feelings would be mixed but noted that the Maori representative team wore the h on their jerseys.

Should it be Wanganui or Whanganui?

- NZ Herald

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