'H' limbo continues for Wanganui

By Anne-Marie Emerson -
Whanganui MP Chester Borrows. Photo / Bevan Conley
Whanganui MP Chester Borrows. Photo / Bevan Conley

The legal status of Wanganui's two names is still in limbo as the legislation which will allow the city to be named both Wanganui and Whanganui makes its way through Parliament.

But Whanganui MP Chester Borrows told the Wanganui Chronicle he was confident the names would be in place by the end of the year.

Mr Borrows said Wanganui's situation was unusual in that the Minister for Land Information, Maurice Williamson, announced Wanganui would have alternative names, meaning people could use either Wanganui or Whanganui.

Mr Williamson made the announcement in December 2009, after local iwi Te Runanga o Tupoho applied to the Geographic Board in February of that year to have the spelling changed to Whanganui.

During the board's investigations it was discovered Wanganui had no official name, as none had ever been gazetted.

Mr Borrows said for Wanganui's two names to become legal, the New Zealand Geographic Board Act must be amended, which will be done through the Statutes Amendment Bill.

This is a catch-all bill passed every year by Parliament to tweak existing legislation. Statutes Amendment Bills must be approved by all MPs.

"Last year, the Greens voted against the Bill, but this year they have agreed to vote for it," Mr Borrows said.

"There have been a couple of amendments and hold-ups but I expect the change to be finalised by the end of the year."

Wendy Shaw, the secretary of the Geographic Board, said Wanganui's names cannot be gazetted until the legislation has been changed.

However, Ms Shaw said until the names are gazetted, both can currently be used.

"While the Whanganui/Wanganui alternative naming will not be official until the legislation has passed and the name has been gazetted, as neither name is currently an official name there is no legal reason why either name or both names cannot be used now," she said.

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