Just when it seemed safe to open the Chronicle and not be confronted with an "H" article, up it pops again - this time celebrating the 10th anniversary of its official recognition.
But I have to question the curious statement attributed to Whanganui kaumatua John Maihi: "The settlers adopted the Wanganui spelling deliberately, so that they could say it had nothing to do with Maori."
When early settlers suffered the foisting upon them of the absurd name of Petre there was a determined effort to return to the original (Wanganui), which to the petitioners, without the benefit of 21st century debate, was the generally accepted spelling, (although some did use the "H").
If Mr Maihi's assertion is correct, why didn't they choose a European name for the township instead of reverting to the traditional? In fact, some newspaper correspondents back then ridiculed the idea of honouring unworthies with place names.
"Since the formation of British Colonies," wrote one, "the vanity of individuals has been conspicuously marked in the changing of native place names, however beautiful, for their own, though ever so unharmonious and grating. It only gains from mankind the sneer of contempt." (New Zealand Colonist & Port Nicholson Advertiser, Feb 7, 1843).
The writer concludes: "Hoping that the Goddess of Vanity may never have an altar in New Zealand."
And the Wanganui Herald (May 26, 1880), owned and edited by the locally much-maligned John Ballance, stated: "Native names, wherever they exist, ought to remain attached to places. They are more euphonious and more suited to the imported - especially should they be given to the places with which they have been associated in the native mind."
Rather than being an attempt to suppress the local culture as has been alleged, it seems the reality may be much less contentious.
Perhaps our forebears were just spelling it as close as they could to how they heard it.
NZ Post in 'death spiral'
I have been following with interest the NZ Post self created "death spiral" policies.
They started with regular increases in the price of postage stamps, alongside regular removal of suburban mailboxes.
This was followed by shutting down suburban NZ Post agencies, creating more inconvenience for their loyal customers. The latest policy change in Whanganui is an amazing example of apparent stupidity. Their idea is to shut down the Victoria Ave official NZ Post Office and appoint Paper Plus in Trafalgar Square to take over all their Whanganui customer transactions.
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The CBD outlet was ideally situated to serve everyone in Whanganui and was always well supported. Vodafone and Spark have seen the sense in shifting their outlets from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Ave but NZ Post are doing the opposite. Very annoying and I dread to think what their next brilliant plan is going to be.
Cup flags colourful show
A big thank you to Mike Buchanan who has once again gone the extra mile in displaying every World Cup nation's flag on his building. I urge anyone who doesn't regularly go past the Ingestre/Bell Sts corner, to make the time to see his colourful show. Thanks, Mike.
H. R. HIGGIE
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