How do we say Whanganui?

As Māori Language Week - Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori draws to a close and the Wanganui Chronicle has officially become the Whanganui Chronicle it seems a good time to ask the question.

Television and radio reporters frequently pronounce the "Wh" as an "F" sound which leads some to believe that the name of the city is now pronounced as "Fonganui".

If you listen to Rauru Broughton speaking on Awa FM in the river city, you will hear him pronounce it with the soft "wh" sound.


Broughton is using the dialect of his Whanganui Tupoho iwi.

You will hear the same pronunciation from reporter Eruera Rerekura on TVNZ's Te Karere programme although he lives in Wellington.

Te Karere reporter Eruera Rerekura maintains his Whanganui dialect for national broadcasts. Photo/Supplied
Te Karere reporter Eruera Rerekura maintains his Whanganui dialect for national broadcasts. Photo/Supplied

Rerekura, of Whanganui iwi Te Ātihaunui ā Papārangi, says he maintains the dialect he grew up with because that is his accent.

"It's like you wouldn't ask a Scottish person from Edinburgh to say the name of the city with Glasgow accent.

"When I worked for Radio New Zealand, I told my boss that I wanted to pronounce Whanganui the same way I always have and when te reo speakers hear me, they know where I'm from."

Whanganui Regional Museum kaiwhakaako (teacher) Āwhina Twomey of Rangitāne iwi maintains her indigenous dialect when saying "Whanganui".

Twomey was speaking only te reo Māori this week and asked educator Margie Beautrais to convey the message that it is quite correct for people from outside a region to bring their own dialect with them.

The Whanganui Chronicle asked a few people on the street how they say Whanganui and here's what they told us ...

Kim Pere learned to speak te reo in Ruatoria but uses the soft "wh" pronunciation in Whanganui.

"It seems respectful to the tangata whenua of the region," she says.

Geethu Suresh has been living in Whanganui for two years and says she tends to pronounce the city's name the way she hears it on TV.

"I find it a bit confusing really."

Matthew Mokaraka has moved to Whanganui from Auckland with his dog Chevelle and hopes to find work on a farm.

"Māori never used an H in the name, did they?

"I thought they just put it in for tourists."

Kim Kitto said she makes the effort to sound the H in the city's name.

"I think it's important to get it right," she said.

Jim Sheerin, a retired police officer from Australia, said he pronounces the name of the city the way he has since he moved here many years ago.

"I say it the way the locals do but I've still got a bit of an accent."

Find out more about the about the pronunciation and history of the spelling of Whanganui here.