Coasters testy over township's name

Last updated 21:37 01/01/2009

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Is it Harihari, or Hari Hari?

After 100 years on the map, debate still rages over the name of the West Coast settlement.

The township, which celebrated its centenary in 2008, is fighting to keep the space between its Haris.

However, outside forces want that gap closed.

In 2006, residents in favour of the Hari Hari spelling threatened to sabotage a road sign referring to Harihari.

The issue surfaced again recently when an angry local wrote to the University of Canterbury saying it had "incorrectly" used the one-word version on the website for a local field station.

"If you look at the Land Information website, it's all spelled as one word and they are the people who name the places and who am I to go against it?" said university field services manager Jack van Berkel.

However, the locals disagree.

When the post office was established in 1908, it was necessary to officially name the settlement.

"The new post office was given the name Hari Hari and it's always been written by locals and local businesses as two words," said Mary Molloy, a resident for over 30 years.

"In the 1960s it was decided that Hari Hari with two words had no meaning," she said.

Despite this, most of the 350-strong population use the two-word version.

"There's one or two locals who use it as one word, but the majority use two words. Better than 90 per cent."

Dr Rawiri Taonui, associate professor of Maori and indigenous studies at the University of Canterbury, said there were a number of problems with writing down the oral language.

"Maori never was a written language and as it came to be written, a number of grammatical conventions were adopted to retain the meaning of Maori names," he said.

"Meaning was determined by the literal translation, but that's difficult also. The difference between Maori and English is that one word tends to have many more meanings than one word in English."

"Hari can mean gladness, joy or celebration. Hari hari can be a familiar celebration. "

Web oracle Wikipedia states that Hari Hari should be two separate words meaning "to take/carry joy" or "come together in unison" from a Maori canoe song.

It says the one-word version means "ambulance".

The Maori dictionary defines harihari as a verb meaning to "take or carry (a number of times)".

Waka harihari turoro is listed in the dictionary as the noun meaning ambulance.


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