The New Zealand Geographic Board has backtracked on its spelling of Ohakune and now says the name of the Ruapehu town should be written without a macron.

The board, Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa, made 824 Māori placenames official on June 21.
One of the was Ohakune, which the board wrote as Ōhakune.

It was called to account by Ngāti Rangi chairman and Māori Party leader Che Wilson, who said he was shocked and disappointed by its failure to consult local people about how to write the place name.

He said the name came from the phrase "e oha, ka oha, he Ohakune ki te ao". It broadly translates as "an opening to a new world" and relates to the experience of descending through the forest of Mount Ruapehu to the rich grassland and swamps below.


The phrase has been passed on for generations, he said, and is used in the opening tauparapara (incantation) of Ohakune Borough Council's 75th jubilee booklet.

The board should have consulted local people, he said, especially since it was only 18 months since Ngāti Rangi had a special meeting with it to discuss changes to several place names as part of its Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

"Ohakune wasn't considered because it was already correct and didn't need changing."

The Māori language commission, Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori, had also advised the board that iwi hadn't been consulted and that there might already be a local way to write the name.

On July 29 the board changed the name to Ohakune without a macron, and Wilson said it should consult local people in future.

"While the record has since been corrected, the NZGB need to change their arbitrary processes whereby they are not required to consult with the people that their decisions actually affect. It's not good enough and they should know better," he said.