Did you know?

You may notice that the river coming through Taumarunui is called the Whanganui, pronounced with the ‘wh’ and therefore an ‘f’ sound.  However, the town at the river’s end, named after the river, is called Wanganui, without the ‘h’ and with no ‘f’ sound.

The river Whanganui was for many years spelled without the ‘h’ in its name.  Following a public campaign in the late 1980’s and early 90’s the name of the river was officially changed to its current form Whanganui.  There is also a campaign to change the spelling of the town Wanganui to include the ‘h’.  This has met much resistance from various interested parties and not least from the people of Wanganui themselves.

Here’s one reason why:

The ‘wh’ in Maori is a dialectal difference and so not all tribes, or iwi, pronounce the ‘wh’ sound.  The iwi of the area that the bulk of the Whanganui River travels through pronounce the ‘wh’ sound.  The iwi further south along the course of the River and down into Wanganui township itself, do not pronounce the ‘wh’ sound.  Both sets of people are pronouncing their local names correctly!