After three months of intense scientific deliberation and public consultation, the New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) announced late in 2014 that it recommended the correction of several misspelled indigenous place names.
This Autumn, the Land Information Minister, Louise Upston, announced the decision to correct the spelling of 12 place and feature names in the Ōpōtiki District. Among those names on the list for correction are the Waiotahi River, Waiotahi Forest and Waiotahi Knoll, which will all have the misspelling of Waiotahi replaced with the correct, original Māori name ‘Waiotahe’.
Despite the popularity and international recognition of place names featuring the form Waiotahi, officials, scientists, and activists agree, correcting the spelling of these and other toponyms is essential to protecting and respecting New Zealand’s cultural heritage. As Minister Upston stated in a recent interview featured on Radio New Zealand News: “New Zealand has a rich and diverse cultural history and I am pleased we are able to help safeguard the place naming traditions and heritage that have been brought here by our various communities.”