Names of NZ’s two main islands formalised

  • Maurice Williamson
Land Information

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson today announced the recorded English names of the two main islands of New Zealand, the North Island and South Island, will be formalised.

The decision follows a recommendation from the New Zealand Geographic Board, which undertook extensive consultation this year.

“While these names appear in official publications, including maps and charts, they had been recorded names only and had no formal standing.

“As an integral part of New Zealand’s cultural identity and heritage, it is only right the names North Island and South Island be made official under the New Zealand Geographic Board Act 2008.

“I have also approved the Geographic Board recommendation to assign official alternative Maori names for the two islands, Te Ika-a-Māui (for the North Island) and Te Waipounamu (for the South Island). These Māori names also have historic and cultural significance and appeared on early maps and charts, including government maps, until the 1950s,” Mr Williamson says.

Alternative names can be used by those who wish to do so.

“My decision to assign alternative names means people can use whichever they prefer and they will not be forced to use both the English and Māori names together.

Instead, everyone will have the choice to keep calling the islands what they always have, or use the assigned alternatives, or use both together if they wish,” Mr Williamson says.

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