Will Laws restand?

June 23rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Former shock jock Michael Laws – once an MP and mayor of Wanganui – is thought to be considering a rerun for his old mayoral job.

A source told the Herald on SundayLaws has been sending more emails recently about civic affairs.

Laws was weighing up the position, but would not announce he was standing until the last minute, the source said.

“It certainly wouldn’t surprise me.”

Well that will liven things up if he does stand.

Laws and Mair both happy!

December 19th, 2009 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The decision to allow the spelling of Wanganui with or without the “h” has been welcomed by both sides in what has, at times, been an acrimonious debate.

Mayor Michael Laws hailed the move by Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson to overturn the Geographic Board’s decision to go with the “h” as an “early Christmas present for the city and district”.

Ken Mair, a Maori activist and one of the driving forces in seeking a change in the spelling of the city’s name, said after conveying the decision to local Maori at a city marae: “We recognise it was a difficult and courageous decision to make, but the correct one.

Maurice will be pretty happy with those headlines, even if Colin Espiner calls him a whimp.

Herald says its both

December 18th, 2009 at 7:23 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at the NZ Herald has what looks to be a scoop:

Wanganui is to be given its “h” back in a compromise under which Government agencies will have to follow the new spelling but others will have a choice.

Land Information minister Maurice Williamson will visit Wanganui today to announce his decision on whether it will become Whanganui.

This follows a sometimes-acrimonious public debate on the issue and a Geographic Board recommendation to insert the “h”.

The Herald understands his solution will be similar to the compromises that created Aorangi/Mt Cook and Mt Egmont/Mt Taranaki, making Wanganui and Whanganui official names.

Sounds fairly sensible. I have previously blogged that a recommendation of the Geographic Board should only be declined by the Minister if there is some failure on their part to consult properly.


Incidentally I was e-mailed this yesterday by a mate. He mentioned at the Press Gallery party that he had just been reading a 1938 history book which pointed out the name Wanganui was a mis-spelling, so this issue is not some new retrospective rewriting of history. I asked him to e-mail me a scan, which he did.

Anyway we’ll find out around midday what the official decision is.

Polls and markets on Wanganui

October 2nd, 2009 at 8:56 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports on a poll on Wanganui:

The survey – made public yesterday by research company UMR – found 62 per cent of respondents from around the country wanted Wanganui to stay the way it was. Only 25 per cent of 750 surveyed supported a change to Whanganui, while 13 per cent were undecided.

iPredict has also launched stocks on whether the Minister will go with the recommendation of the NZ Geographic Board. They have four stocks:

  1. Whanganui is at 80.2c, indicating a clear market belief that the Minister will not second guess the Geographic Board.
  2. Wanganui is at 6.9c
  3. An option of Whanganui/Wanganui (ie both) is on 5.1c
  4. Some other option is on 8.3c

I expect the Minister to follow the recommendation. I think the job of the Minister is to check the Board followed correct process, consulted widely, and considered all relevant issues. I don’t think it is their job to substitute their personal whim or preference for the Board’s.

Best Backbenches ever

September 24th, 2009 at 9:31 am by David Farrar

A great fun episode of Backbenches last night. Literally over a quarter of Parliament (we counted 32 MPs) was in attendance as the House has risen before 6 pm due to a lack of private members bills to debate. There was also a lot of people who had been there to see the VSM Bill (which passed yay).

The absolute most hilarious part of the night (in fact of the series) came from Hone Harawira (who was in the audience). Wallace had asked the four panelists about should there be an H in Wanganui. After the panellist had their say (and one funny answer was that the Government should agree to the decision to include the H as it is promoting literacy standards in schools and that includes correct spelling).

Anyway Wallace then asked some of those in the audience, and eventually Hone Harawira, who was standing next to Shane Jones. Hone’s response was:

Well my mate Jonesy just told me that spelling Wanganui without an H is like spelling Cunliffe without a T.

There was a moment of stunned silence, and then the place went into hysterics. I’m not sure but I think the Labour MPs may have been laughing even harder than the National MPs. I’d say it took almost a minute before Wallace could carry on with the show.

The quip about poor old David Cunliffe having a silent T is his name is not a new one. It first originated around nine years ago when he became an MP, and legend credits it to one of his colleagues. But what was unique about this situation was:

  1. It was the first time someone had used the quip on live nationwide television
  2. It was also the first time someone had used it in front of DC himself. Yes he was one of the 32 or so MPs in the pub audience

Wallace of course then went into the audience to ask DC for a comment, and he did take it all in good humour.

The genius of Hone’s comments was saying the Shane Jones had quipped it to him. Because Jones has a robust enough sense of humour that you couldn’t rule out that he might just have quipped that to Hone. As it happens Hone did admit to me that he did make it up and attributed it to Shane Jones as some “whanau love”.

As I said, it was a great fun episode with a packed pub and a quarter of Parliament there. If the Speaker had turned up, they could have probably convened a session and passed some laws! I was one of the last to leave and for my sins have lost my voice this morning!


September 17th, 2009 at 3:59 pm by David Farrar

Personally I don’t care very much whether the city is called Wanganui as it is currently, or Whanganui as the river and electorate are named.

No matter how you spell it, my advice is to avoid it 🙂

But the simple fact of the matter is, 77% of Wanganui voters, voted in a referendum that they did not want the name to change.

I really think it is silly to force a change against such opposition.

The backlash against stuff like forced name changes, tends to build opposition to stuff which is important – such as settling historic claims.

Chris Trotter has written eloquently on how names change over time – even mistakes become legitimate names. Caesar became Kaiser (and Czar) for example.

For all that, now that the New Zealand Geographic Board has made a decision, I think it should be implemented. There is effectively a Ministerial veto but I don’t think it is a great precedent for Ministers to over-rule the expert boards, unless not to do so would lead to a something very bad happening. And at the end of the day, it is only a name.

Wanganui gang patch bylaw

September 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

While well intentioned, I have never been a fan of the gang patch law.

My concerns were heightened yesterday when I heard the local Police Commander explain why the City Council has passed the by-law (as allowed for by the law passed by Parliament.

The Commander said that local residents wanted to impose a dress code for their city.

People should impose dress codes on their private property. I don’t think it is the role of governments to impose dress codes on public places (so long as people are not indecent/naked).

Wanganui gang patch law passes

May 7th, 2009 at 8:05 am by David Farrar

The law passed last night by 62 votes to 59. If Helen Clark was still an MP it would have been 62 – 60. ACT had three MPs (Hide, Boscawen and Garrett) vte in favour and two (Roy and Douglas) vote against.

I’m not convinced the new law will be effective, and I also think criminalising people for what they wear, rather than what they do, is the start of a potentially slippery slope.

However this has been a law strongly sought by the Wanganui District Council, and most of the people who live there. Parliament has a tradition of agreeing to most local bills.

It will be interesting to see how the law works in practice.

Trotter on Wanganui vs Whanganui

April 6th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes a provocative column on the great Wanganui debate (personally I have no problems with it going to Whanganui as Wanganui was basically a typo):

For a start, I am more than a little disturbed to learn that the Geographic Board is legally obliged to replace English with Maori place-names wherever possible.

This suggests to me that the New Zealand state will not be content until all evidence of its colonial history has been, quite literally, wiped off the map.

WHO IS responsible for this extraordinary policy? Did anyone seek the endorsement of the New Zealand electorate before embarking on what can only be called a campaign of historical ethnic cleansing?

Are the achievements of our pioneering ancestors worth so little that all trace of their presence and contribution is to be expunged?

The place-names chosen by the early settlers to animate the landscapes they were creating reveal much about both their personalities and their aspirations.

What and who we are is inextricably bound up with the words we choose to describe both ourselves and our surroundings.

While I have no issue with Wanganui being Whanganui, I think Chris does have a very valid point. I ma proud that Wellington is named after the Duke of Wellington. I am proud to live on Hobson Street – named after Governor Hobson who signed the Treaty of Waitangi. I would not want to see these names disappear over time.

Let me tell you about Bowalley Road, the rough gravel track that runs past the farm where I grew up in the early 1960s.

Geoffrey Miller happens to drive past Bowalley Road a few days ago. He took these two snaps.


The signpost.


And the road itself.

The proper noun Bowalley is a corruption of another proper noun, Bewley, which is a corruption of the French adjective beaulieu, meaning beautiful place, which itself became a proper noun when Charles Suisted, a Swedish settler who, having acquired that part of the North Otago coast lying to the north of the Waianakarua River and east of Mt Charles in the 1850s, bestowed that name upon it.

When my father came to purchase the property, nearly a century later, Beaulieu was still its name.

By that time, however, the locals, who struggled with the correct French pronunciation of Beaulieu, had taken to referring to the property as either Bewley or Bowalley.

Another version of Bowalley was Baldie, which eventually became The Baldie, signifying the little creek that runs through the property, and empties, via a marshy delta, into the Pacific Ocean at the end of Bowalley Rd.

Obliterate the names Beaulieu, Bewley, Bowalley and Baldie and you obliterate the linguistic legacy of all the lives that have been lived in that part of North Otago since the beginning of European settlement nearly 190 years ago.

The point Chris makes, quite elegantly, is even typos or corruptions, can come to have real meaning over time.

Check the handwriting

June 7th, 2008 at 6:36 pm by David Farrar

The Dominion Post reports that some of the latest tagging in Wanganui is targeted at Mayor Michael Laws.

The Police should check the handwriting against that of some of his City Councillors!