Give Waitara an 'h'

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2014

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A woman keen for the 'h' to be included in the spelling of Waitara wants more people to know the history behind the town's name.

Tiri Bailey said she believed Waitara should actually be spelt Whaitara based on the accepted story of how the town came to be.

On Thursday, as part of celebrations for Maori Language Week, Bailey told a small group at Waitara Library that the inspiration for the town's name was based on a story of reconciliation between a son, Whare Matangi, and his father, Ngarue.

Bailey said Whare Matangi is said to have followed the path of a dart he threw in order to find his father, who was living in what is now known as Waitara.

She said the longer form of the town's original name is Ko Whai-tara-nui-a-Whare-Matangi-ki-te-kimi-tana-matua-a-Ngarue but was shortened to Whai-tara.

She said the spelling change would not affect how the name was pronounced as the ‘wh' sound is not used in Taranaki dialect.

Bailey said the reason the name Waitara had stuck all these years was probably because people had written it down the way they had heard it spoken.

"It was heard like that, so it was written like that," she said.

She said although she would support seeing signage changed to reflect the alternative spelling, her main aim through her korero (speech) was to raise people's awareness of the issue.

As a resource teacher of Maori, Bailey also helps students develop a deeper cultural understanding and connection to the area where they live.

"It's really important that the children learn, and then, hopefully, their parents will too," she said.

Other events held at Waitara Library this week to celebrate Maori language included a weaving session and an opportunity to have a go at making fried bread.

Whanganui held a similar debate. 

Back in 2009, a comprise was reached where by both Wanganui and Whanganui would be considered correcting spelling of that town's name. 

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- Taranaki Daily News

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