Alternative naming for North & South Islands

2 April 2013

The New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa last Thursday agreed to proceed to publicly consult on proposals to formally assign official alternative names to New Zealand’s two main islands.

This means that either the English name or the Māori name, or both names together could be used as official.

NZGB Chair Dr Don Grant says the move follows the receipt of a proposal to change the name ‘South Island’ to its original Māori name ‘Te Waipounamu’ and to consider the original Māori name of the North Island at the same time.

“At that time we noted that the existing English names were recorded names, rather than official names. They appeared on LINZ’s maps, charts and other official publications but had never been formalised under the NZGB Act.
“The NZGB agreed in principle that the English names should be formalised, that – as a related pair – both islands should also be assigned Māori alternative names, and that all of the names should be formalised at the same time.”
Following consultation with iwi, the NZGB determined that the most appropriate Māori names for the islands are ‘Te Ika-a-Māui’ (for the North Island) and ‘Te Waipounamu’ (for the South Island).
“The NZGB Act was amended in December 2012, and now provides for alternative naming. As such, the NZGB agreed at its latest meeting on 28 March 2013 to begin the process to formalise these names.
“This means that the two main islands of New Zealand could soon be referred to officially as the ‘North Island’ or ‘Te Ika-a-Māui’ and the ‘South Island’ or ‘Te Waipounamu’.”
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