Moves by local iwi to put the "h" in Wanganui will be fiercely resisted, mayor Michael Laws says.
Te Runanga O Tupoho, an iwi committee, plans to apply to the Geographic Board for the "h" to be added.
Spokesman Ken Mair said it was important the spelling be corrected to Whanganui. "If people continue to spell your name wrong, you would want to rectify the situation."
Without the 'h' Wanganui had no meaning, but with it the city translated to "big bay", he said.
Mr Laws called the move a "needlessly provocative gesture" and against the wishes of residents. He said that unlike with the application in the 1990s to rename the river, the council would not stay silent.
"We will uphold the city's name after 150 years of being spelt this way. In addition, the local Maori pronunciation renders the 'h' silent anyway."
A referendum in 2006 found that less than 3 per cent of residents wanted to change the spelling.
- The Dominion Post