NZ Geographic Board Welcomes Minister’s Decision On Islands’ Names

10 October 2013

New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) Chair Dr Don Grant today welcomed Land information Minister Maurice Williamson’s decision to formalise the English and Māori names of the two main islands of New Zealand.

Dr Grant says the decision aligns with the Board’s recommendation to the Minister in August – that New Zealanders be given a choice about whether to use the English or Māori names for the country’s two main islands.

“The Board undertook three months of public consultation on these proposals from April-July this year, with the overwhelming majority of public submitters showing that they wanted the choice to use the English or Māori names.

“The Board recommended that New Zealanders be able to choose whether to refer to the islands as ‘North Island’ or ‘Te Ika-a-Māui’, and ‘South Island’ or ‘Te Waipounamu’ – using either name, or both together if they prefer.”

In total, the Board received 2,608 submissions from 1,329 submitters.  Of the submissions, 1,842 were in support of one or more of the proposals and 766 opposed to one or more.

“That said, the numbers were not the main consideration – the Board is guided more by submitters’ reasons for supporting or objecting, and our recommendations were informed by careful consideration of all submissions.”

Following the Minister’s announcement, LINZ maps and charts that feature the island names will reflect both the English and Māori names.  This will occur only as maps and charts come up for revision in the normal course of maintenance.

“Māori names were also used by the early European explorers – beginning with Captain Cook – and continued to be used throughout most of New Zealand’s history, so this decision simply brings them back as an option for those who want to continue using them.”

Further information about the alternative naming of New Zealand’s two main islands is available here.