Wānaka's welcome signs to get permanent spelling fix

by Kim Bowden - Jun 29, 2023

After years of making do with a DIY spelling correction, a small but vital addition may be on the way for Wānaka’s welcome signs.

A few years back, someone wasn't willing to wait for an official upgrade, painting their own macrons on Wānaka's welcome signs instead (Image: Nikki McKay).

A te reo-savvy amateur sign painter took it upon themselves to add a macron above the first 'a' in Wānaka on council-owned roadside signs at the two main entrances to the town.

Now, the Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board wants to make the macron a little more official.

After a discussion at last week’s community board meeting, it is requesting the council upgrade the signs to reflect this accepted spelling of the name, as confirmed by the New Zealand Geographic Board.

Board chair Simon Telfer says after a brief discussion all elected members agreed to support the signs being corrected and a resolution to that effect was passed.

He says around town macrons are increasingly appearing as organisations and businesses update logos and signs.

“This is great to see…We want signage to be accurate and up to date.”

The steel and stone Wānaka welcome signs in question are ten years old and were a project funded by the Wānaka Lions Club, Rotary Club of Wānaka, Wānaka Residents Association and Queenstown Lakes District Council. Now, the signs are a council asset.

Deputy mayor and Wānaka councillor Quentin Smith says while the DIY change has been doing the job, the signs deserve a more permanent solution fitting with the quality of them.

Although he thinks there is no pressure for everyone to immediately jump on the macron train, he says “it is appropriate that we slowly transition to the new official spelling over time”.

A Waka Kotahi Wānaka road sign has some creative sticker placement in lieu of an official macron over the first 'a' (Image: Nikki McKay).

He admits he is still learning: “I will have to learn the add a macron - it is not something I routinely do at this point.” 

Meanwhile the green roadside signs providing distance, directional and speed information and instructions to motorists belong to Waka Kotahi.

They are also macron free for now.

A spokesperson says the agency “is committed to supporting the use of Māori place names where the community has requested them and takes a proactive approach once the New Zealand Geographic Board makes a change to the official geographical name of a place”. 

But, this doesn’t mean any changes will happen overnight – the agency will look to take advantage of upgrade or maintenance works to make the correction, the spokesperson says. 

“We seek to work with communities to describe these opportunities and constraints and the likely timeframes for replacement.”

Curious about making a macron? Check out these easy instructions from the University of Otago.

Main image (Nikki McKay): Locals say the DIY macron was painted on the Wānaka welcome sign on State Highway 6 opposite Puzzling World years ago.

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