Queenstown mayor Clive Geddes says he’ll oppose any move to officially rename the Wakatipu the Whakatipu”.
Geddes revealed the h-bomb to Mountain Scene on Monday.
“[Wakatipu has] been in common usage for 100 years or more and I think we all have a lot better things to do than fuss about correcting what is common usage.”
Geddes says he believes most people wouldn’t readily change.
The “Whakatipu” controversy stems from the New Zealand Geographic Board wanting to add a macron – indicating a long vowel sound – to the first “a” in Hawea. Geddes opposing it made national news over Christmas.
It doesn’t end there, he says: “Next in line for [a macron] is Wanaka – and [putting] the ‘h’ back in Wakatipu.”
Geddes understands the “private individual” who pitched the Hawea macron is now pushing for Wanaka with a macron and Wakatipu with an “h”.
The controversy tops his New Year resolutions. “As soon as I’m back in the office on [January 18], I’m going to be following up with NZGB to see if they’ve got any applications for either that macron in Wanaka or the ‘h’ back into Wakatipu.”
Maori are unlikely to be behind the moves, he says. “I’ve never had the spelling of Maori place names in the Lakes District raised as an issue by [Ngai Tahu or other Maori groups].”
If the Wakatipu “h” becomes official, then following the recent Wanganui/Whanganui controversy the “h” version will become optional for the public but compulsory for Government departments.
Queenstown’s secondary school would officially become “Whakatipu High”, for example.