Geographic Board Considers North & South Island Names

The New Zealand Geographic Board Considers North and South Island Names

21 April 2009

The New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (the Board) is looking to formalise the currently used and recorded English names for the North and South Islands of New Zealand (‘North Island’ and ‘South Island’), as well as considering official alternative Māori names. The Board will be writing to iwi throughout the country in the coming weeks to seek their known traditional Māori names for both islands. It expects to be able to publicly consult with all New Zealanders on the names in 2010.

For several years the Board has been investigating Māori names for New Zealand’s two main islands and exploring a process for formally recognising alternative Māori names for each island.

“Interestingly, while researching this issue, we noted that ‘North Island’ and ‘South Island’ are actually not official names under our legislation, despite their common long-term usage,” said Board Chairperson Dr Don Grant. “We therefore want to formalise alternative Māori names and, at the same time, make the naming of the North and South Islands official.”

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