hey, h-bomb was my line

January 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Now that barring an appeal, Wanganui will officially become Whanganui, more toponymic issues are dotting the New Zealand landscape, this time in the South Island/Te Wai Pounamu

Lake Hawea is set to become Lake Haawea … i.e., replacing _a_ with a with a macron on top indicating a long vowel in the original Maaori translation … this here blog thingy won’t let me macronise vowels, sorry.

Not only that, the first _a_ in nearby Wanaka, both lake and town, might also get a hat on top, and Wakatipu, the jewel in the Central Otago crown might find itself like Wanganui with an _h_. The Ngai Tahu dialect of Maaori, like the dialect of the downriver owners of the Whanganui River, does not have the /f/ pronunciation for the phoneme represented by the digraph, _wh_. Like the North Island to-do, we might see arguments about local versus ‘standard’ Maaori pronunciation as well as ‘no written record before contact’ and economic arguments against the change.

You can read some reports and comments here. Note the ludic spelling, _whak_, by one commentator.
Otago Daily Times coverage here

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