A Christchurch man's campaign for Wikipedia to officially adopt the use of macrons in Māori words has been a success.

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

Debates and editing battles have long raged on the popular site for years, with various editors repeatedly adding and removing macrons from words.

"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," Wilke said.


"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.

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

Wilke said the decision was finally made by a user in England.

"It may be surprising to some people that I, a non-New Zealander, appear to be deciding this matter," the user wrote.

"This is a red herring. As a discussion closer, my role is not to decide, but to determine what the community has decided in the discussion below.

"I determine this in the way set out at Wikipedia:Closing discussions, and my role is to evaluate what we call the 'consensus', which on Wikipedia is not unanimity but 'rough consensus'."

In the end, 33 editors voted for the adoption of the new guideline, with five against.


"This marks a big change for Wikipedia. The idea was first raised on Wikipedia discussion pages in 2007 with no clear consensus," Wilke said.

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.

"It's gratifying to see that after a well-researched proposal was put forward, agreement on macron use for place names has now been achieved."