Dear Rachel Stewart, thank you for your letter (Opinion, May 2).

It's a while since we've heard from you and I note with interest that you've chosen to do so with a subject that is already topical and already well covered by media. That being said, let's address why we are consulting with our communities about the proposal to change the region's and council's name.

Recently Horizons Regional Council's elected members voted in favour of presenting an application to the New Zealand Geographical Board (NZGB) to change the name of the region to Manawatū-Whanganui.

In discussions with NZGB we were advised that consulting with our community was part of the official process.

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To meet this requirement, we included the region's name change as part of our proposed 2018-28 Long-term Plan consultation.

This consultation includes not only proposing to add the "h" to Whanganui but also a macron over the u in Manawatū - something that affects all of our region's residents.

Previous consultation and applications to NZGB have only been done for adding the "h" to the Whanganui city and district.

As noted in our consultation document you would have seen the council's preferred option is to change the name and, as a result, the regional council's name would be changed too.

So while you argue that we did not need to consult, not only is it what we are required to do, open, transparent, and two-way conversations with all of our stakeholders is the right thing to do.

I would also like to assure you that this consultation is not an attempt to hurt iwi, of which we have 20 who make up our region.

All received notification of our intention prior to the consultation period, and many have discussed with us in person since.

As mentioned, this process is part of our proposed 2018-28 Long-term Plan consultation, and is therefore not the only item we have been seeking our communities' feedback on.

In fact, in contrary to your suggestion that the name change is a "distraction from working on the most important issue facing this country's economic and environmental stability – water", our consultation document dedicated an entire section on freshwater management.
(Abridged)

Bruce Gordon
Horizons Regional Council chair