Naming option creates divide

By Ross Pringle


Within a few weeks Wanganui - or Whanganui, if you prefer - will finally have not one but two official names.

As much as we might think this will bring an end to confusion, angst and anger over the city's name, that is unlikely.

The two sides are so far apart on the issue that it seems highly unlikely that either one would now immediately accept the other's view as correct.

But there is a sense that over the past three years there has been a growing acceptance of the alternative name options announced by Maurice Williamson.

It is now more than 1000 days since his compromise was revealed that appeased those who argued that inserting the H was righting a historical wrong, and those who countered that history was on their side.

The move was trumpeted as giving everyone the freedom to choose according to their own views, a win for common sense and one that would bring an end to the bickering and bitterness that prevailed over the debate.

It's funny, then, that even now whether you opt for Whanganui or Wanganui defines you as belonging in one of the two camps.

Those divisions can run quite deep and have serious consequences.

It is hard to see the formality of the law change and gazetting of the names as bringing about any meaningful or practical change.

We have had three years to wrestle with which version of our city's name we would use.

The fact that both are now legal won't change that.

Eyebrows will still rise on occasion when a person indicates a preference.

Yesterday's development and anticipated gazetting of the two options does reaffirm our right as individuals to select which spelling we want, not to have one forced upon us. And that, at least, is something to celebrate.

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- Wanganui Chronicle

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