A Christchurch man is campaigning for Wikipedia to officially adopt the use of macrons in Māori words.

Axel Wilke is proposing Wikipedia change its New Zealand naming conventions, saying the website is "one of the last bastions of macron resistance for place names".

"The use of macrons in New Zealand English is changing fast. Print and television media, local and central Government, they have almost all adopted the macron to indicate long vowels in Māori," Wilke said.

"Macrons have been used in Wikipedia for some time: every use of the word "Māori" has its macron, and articles are increasingly adopting macrons in their names . . . But place names have always been a sticking point. For some reason, people feel especially attached to towns and rivers, and resist changing their spelling.


"Wikipedia rules have, for years, stated that place names were 'under discussion', and macrons have not been used in the meantime for place names," Wilke said.

Wikipedia is written by volunteers, with naming conventions discussed and decided on by contributors.

"Change happens through long public discussions on Wikipedia talk pages, and anyone can contribute."

Wilke suggested the naming conventions be amended to include macrons in cases where the New Zealand Geographic Board has adopted them.

"In June 2019, the New Zealand Geographic Board reported that 824 Māori place names had been made official, and about 300 place names now include a macron." Wilke said.

"If the proposal is adopted, nearly 300 place names on Wikipedia would thus be changed to show the macron in the page title and throughout the text."

The idea was first raised on Wikipedia discussion pages in 2007, with no clear consensus.

In 2018, volunteers engaged in a battle over whether the Kāpiti town of Paekākāriki should have macrons in its name, with editors repeatedly removing and replacing the macrons from the page.


"You might think it would be an easy thing to just declare 'most New Zealand publications use macrons, so now all Wikipedia articles will too', but Wikipedia, through years of discussion and debate, has accumulated layers and layers of rules, guidelines, precedents, and style guides.

"That's why this proposed rule change, which will affect hundreds of articles and require thousands of changes, is such a big deal.

"If the change is approved, it will bring Wikipedia into line with the way New Zealand English has changed."