The plot thickens over the actual spelling and pronunciation of the name Kahutara.

In the wake of a news story published this week claiming that the name should be Kahautara, the spelling which appeared on documents dating back to 1894, it is now being suggested even earlier documents have the name as Kahutara.

Kevin Bargh, a resident of Kahutara Rd, approached South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples earlier this year expressing his desire to have the name restored to Kahautara, as was recorded in early maps and plans.

Land Information New Zealand said the area had been recorded as Kahautara in documents dating back to 1894, with the name appearing to have been changed to Kahutara on the NZ Map Series 13 in 1960.

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Mrs Staples told councillors of her chance meeting with Mr Bargh in January over a flat tyre, through her report which was tabled at Wednesday's full council meeting.

"Kevin has concluded after discussions with local iwi that Kahautara means hills formed by the wind (or similar) which refers to the local sand hills, whereas Kahutara refers to a female falcon's genitals."

Maori scholar and researcher Haami Te Whaiti said yesterday Maori names could not always be given a literal translation.

He said Mr Bargh made an "interesting case" regarding the place name's spelling, however there was documentation dated earlier than 1894 where the land was named Kahutara.

"I don't want to be saying he's right or wrong, I don't want to get into that debate. All I'm saying is that the earlier maps and documentation from the alienation of property when it first became Crown land, they used Kahutara, not Kahautara.

"When it was transferred from Maori to the Crown in 1863, it was called Kahutara."

Mr Te Whaiti said if Mr Bargh attempted to make the name official, he and other iwi would have to take a greater interest in the place name to decide what it should be called.

To officially change the name an application would have to be made to the New Zealand Geographic Board.

At this week's meeting the SWDC resolved to support the name change, should Mr Bargh make an application, on the grounds it had support from local iwi.