A second vote has been taken ... and the controversial "H" in Wanganui spelling is another leap closer.

District councillors voted 10 to three yesterday to ask the New Zealand Geographic Board to change the name of the district to Whanganui, in order to meet Tupoho's request to change the council's name to Whanganui District Council.

The motion was lost 7-6 on December 2, after which iwi leader Ken Mair suggested Maori might withdraw from their partnerships with council.

The matter was brought back to an extraordinary meeting yesterday by Councillor Helen Craig.


Voting against the "H" were Ray Stevens, Charlie Anderson and Philippa Baker-Hogan - though Mrs Baker-Hogan said she only voted against it because she didn't like the process.

Councillor Jenny Duncan said it was cowardly to use the process as an excuse to vote "No".

An amendment by Rob Vinsen puts in place at least one month's consultation with residents, starting next month. The result of the consultation is to go to the Geographic Board, along with the council's request.

Councillors Stevens and Anderson voted against that as well, and Mr Stevens later said they would take advice over whether the "H" decision could be overturned because it was a significant one with no consultation beforehand.

"You're supposed to consult first, then make the decision."

Mayor Annette Main said that there was nothing wrong with the process.

"We were told it didn't trigger the significance policy, but that doesn't mean it's not a significant issue for our community. We want to hear disagreement and include it in our submission to the Geographic Board."

Councillor Sue Westwood was sad the issue was so divisive and said kohanga reo people her husband had done accounts for would now no longer speak to her.


New Councillor Jason Granville said more education was needed.

"Once you get a chance to sit down with anti-H people and tell them the amazing things the iwi are doing, they have been more than happy to come around."

The decision was easy for Rangi Wills, whose Maori mother told him long ago the spelling was wrong. Mr Anderson said the council had been "ambushed" with the "H" motions.

There were about 20 members of the public at the meeting, representing both sides of the argument.

Mrs Craig said many wise words had been spoken and councillors were not too far apart.

It had been a rough two weeks since the first vote and leaving the matter would only turn it into a festering wound, she said.

"It's a decision we will look back on with pride. We must live up to our vision of leading edge."