Central Otago lifeblood . . . Swimmers float down the Manuherikia River at the Shaky Bridge, in Alexandra. The Maori spelling of the river PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES

The Maori spelling of the Manuherikia River originally the Manuherekia is “at long last” being used more widely, Central Otago kaumatua Francie Diver says.

Ms Diver said it was “lovely” to see more people familiar with the Maori spelling of the river.

“It’s awesome.”

The Otago Regional Council began using the Manuherekia spelling earlier this year, after clarifying with Aukaha [previously the Kai Tahu ki Otago Natural Resource Management Limited] that it was their preferred spelling, council chief executive Sarah Gardner said.

“The name literally means tied here’, so the two-e spelling is correct as it incorporates the Te Reo word said.

She said “apart from a bit of inconsistency when we first transitioned to the two-e spelling, it has been a pretty easy switch, however, there are still some legacy single-e spellings that we have yet to correct”.

The council used both the English and Te Reo names for one of its freshwater management units (the Clutha/Mata-Au).

“Generally speaking, we tend to stick with the name that people are most familiar with, and endeavour to use the correct spelling.”

Central Otago District Council Tim Cadogan also recently started using the Maori spelling Manuherekia in his mayoral reports and communication.

Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said the council was renaming its refurbished meeting rooms with Te Reo Maori names when it discovered the Ngai Tahu spelling for the river was Manuherekia.

“It seemed a no-brainer to us that we just start using that, in particular given the story it tells about the meaning behind the name, i.e. that when expeditions came through on the pounamu trails someone would be sent ahead to find a safe place to cross the river, and they would tether a bird there. The name means tether a bird’.”

Ms Jacobs said the council did not have a specific policy about what name to use, “but staff and elected members have been quick to adopt the correct name, now that they know it. We also often call the Clutha the Mata-au, and are increasingly becoming comfortable with calling other landmarks by their original name Rock is increasingly called Haehaeata [First to See the Light]”.

“There are a number of place names around New Zealand that have been incorrectly documented, and I would like to think there would be strong support for any moves from iwi to see those corrected.”

In terms of monitoring water quality, a Ngai Tahu group called the Manuherekia Cultural Flow Preference Study Group was monitoring 16 sites on the river, Ms Diver said.

“It’s about looking after the Manuherekia. Taking control,” she said.


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