By Hayley Gastmeier
South Wairarapa iwi representatives have rejected a proposal to change the spelling of Kahutara to Kahautara.
At their six-weekly meeting on Monday, the South Wairarapa District Council Maori Standing Committee unanimously voted against supporting the spelling change.
The spelling of the area came into question after South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples was approached by Kahutara resident Kevin Bargh, who wanted the name changed back to a former spelling of Kahautara.
Mr Barge had received reports from Land Information New Zealand confirming the area had been recorded as Kahautara in documents dating back to 1894, with the name appearing to have been changed to Kahutara on the NZ Map Series 313 in 1960.
But Maori scholar and researcher Haami Te Whaiti told the Times-Age earlier this month that papers dating back to 1863, documenting when the land was transferred from Maori to the Crown, shows the spelling as Kahutara.
At a full SWDC meeting last month councillors agreed to support the proposed name change, providing the change had support of local iwi.
Sandy Watene, of Papawai, was invited to speak to the MSC at the meeting about the proposal.
He said the recent stories published by local media on the proposition had made him “hot”.
“I don’t [want] the name to be changed because that’s me.”
Mr Watene said his was the fifth generation to acknowledge the name Kahutara.
He said he “had the whakapapa to prove it” and showed the committee a family tree tracing the name back through his ancestors.
Mr Watene said he would not support the name change to Kahautara and “people need to say it right”.
“I hear a lot of people say Ka-how-tra. It’s not Ka-how-tra, it’s Ka-hu-ta-ra.”
Horipo Rimene, of Rangitane o Wairarapa, said Kahutara was “the name of the waka”.
According to Wikipedia, in Maori tradition, Kahutara was one of the great ocean-going, voyaging canoes that was used in the migrations that settled New Zealand.
Reuben Tipoki, representing Hau Ariki, and Terry Te Maari, of Kohunui, told the committee they agreed with Mr Watene and did not support the name change.
Amiria Te Whaiti, representing Papawai, said Mr Bargh “should have done his homework properly” before bringing the issue of the area’s spelling to council.
“At the end of the day all this has happened without him even consulting with the whanau that whakapapa to the tipuna.”
Demetrius Potangaroa, the committee’s newest member and Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa representative, said he did not believe in “trampling on someone else’s genealogy”.
Mr Watene’s wife, Liz, said the proposal to change the spelling of Kahutara had “hurt him really bad”.
She suspected the 1960 spelling change “was to put it back to how it was”.
Councillor Brian Jephson said SWDC had “done the right thing” by consulting with iwi on the proposal and would “take on board” their views.
Councillor Solitaire Robertson said she “fully supported” Mr Watene.
MSC chairman Michael Roera, of Papawai, said members of the public who wanted to discuss the Kahutara/Kahautara spelling should approach the MSC.
Mr Roeara put it to the committee “to keep the rightful name, which I believe in my heart of hearts is Kahutara”.
A unanimous vote was cast to not support the name change to Kahautara, and to keep tKahutara.