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"Wanganui Will Decide Its Own Identity & Destiny"

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
"Wanganui Will Decide Its Own Identity & Destiny"

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws today said that the rejection of the NZ Geographic Board's decision to rename 'Wanganui' as 'Whanganui' was "an early Christmas present for the city and district, and effectively allows us to determine our own identity and destiny".

Lands Minister Maurice Williamson today released his decision that Wanganui and Whanganui would both be valid spellings, but that it would be for individuals and organisations to choose their own preferred variant.

"Essentially, that represents no real change from the status quo. That freedom has existed since 1991 when the river was given an 'h' by the Geographic Board. Both variants are already used and the Minister's decision recognises that reality. It was an option that my council put to both iwi representatives and the Board, but they both publicly rejected it."

Mayor Laws said that the preference of the wider Wanganui was "clear and overwhelming. At both the 2006 and 2009 referenda, Wanganui voted by a majority of four-to-one in favour of the status quo. The council will remain the Wanganui District Council. Most locals will carry on as if nothing has changed".

The Mayor also noted that a legislative change would be required by Parliament to effect the Minister's decision, due to a flaw in the overriding act.

"That means this decision might take place early in 2010 or later in that year. I am delighted that my council's lobbying - much criticised by various media and political commentators - has been so effective. Wanganui continues to determine its own destiny: and that is the most positive outcome of today."

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