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by Chris Tobin

Is it time for a small South Canterbury town to correct a misspelling in its name which for many people is already a tongue-twister?

In a submission to Oceania Dairy’s proposed plan to build a pipeline from its factory at Morven to the Pacific Ocean 7.5km away to discharge wastewater, Te Runanga o Arowhenua said the current spelling of “Makikihi” was incorrect.

The proper spelling of the word, said Aoraki Environmental Consultancy principal planner Kylie Hall, who was acting for Te Runanga O Arowhenua, was “Makihikihi” for the nearby river which currently was, like the township, spelt Makikihi.

The river flowed from the Hunters Hills to the Pacific Ocean.

No request was made by Te Runanga O Arowhenua for a correction to the misspelling of the name, which has probably been in use since the early days of European settlement.

Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley said he was not aware of the misspelling.

“Council would be happy to work with Te Runanga o Arowhenua, Te Runanga o Waihao and the New Zealand Geographic Board to correct the misspelling,” Mr Rowley said.

The town is possibly best associated with well-known local company Makikihi Fries, a now nationally recognised brand.

A company spokesman said it did not want to enter into the politics around a possible name change.

“If the name is changed then we would of course deal with the practicalities of that. For instance, we would update our address.”

“However, historically the company has always been known as Makikihi Fries,” the spokesman said. “That caused no issues in the early days as we sold everything reasonably locally.

“Now we are selling all around New Zealand .. we are often asked, ‘how do you say that?’

“We wouldn’t want to compound that – so our brand and company name wouldn’t change.”

Makikihi historian and Timaru businessman Bill Washington, who grew up in the town, said during his research he had come across two or three variations in the spelling of the name.

“My parents went there 85 years ago and it has always been Makikihi,” Mr Washington said.

“I know that with government departments if you change a name it can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. I would not like to see the name change.”

He was completing a history on the town which he hoped to publish towards the end of the year.