Division on H not as vocal

By Anne-Marie Emerson

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IT caused fierce division at the time, but is Wanganui's long-standing "H" debate finally starting to fizzle out?

The Whanganui District Health Board will discuss changing the spelling of our hospital from Wanganui to Whanganui at its meeting on June 28.

Hospital management recently sent out a press release using the "Whanganui" spelling when referring to the hospital.

They are entitled to do so - they were simply following the directive given by the Minister for Land Information, Maurice Williamson in December 2009 that all Crown agencies move toward adopting the Whanganui spelling.

Some, like the Police and the Department of Conservation, made the move immediately.

Others, like the New Zealand Transport Agency, tried to but were stopped.

In March 2010, NZTA attempted to put up a "Whanganui" sign on Great North Rd but were shouted down by then-mayor Michael Laws, a vocal opponent of the added "H".

Some private companies have adopted the Whanganui spelling with little fuss in recent years, while others have opted to retain Wanganui - the Wanganui Chronicle among them.

A street poll of Wanganui residents yesterday indicated that most of us are not that worried by the hospital's possible change of name.

"I don't mind either way" was the gist of most responses.

One man pointed out it was a decision that was hardly going to affect people's lives.

Yet in 2009, when the "H" debate was at its height, the Chronicle's street polls yielded very different answers.

People were fiercely divided and had strong opinions either for or against the "H".

The Chronicle letters column ran hot with the topic.

So, what's happened, W[h]anganui?

Perhaps after years of bitter disagreement and debate, residents are at last content to put aside their differences and be comfortable with which ever spelling others choose.

We certainly hope so.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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