New Zealand 'forgets' to name itself legally

Experts searching for alternative Maori names for New Zealand’s two main islands were startled to find their commonly used English names – North Island and South Island – were never made legal, they revealed today.

To repair the 200-year-old oversight, the country’s Geographic Board said it would take steps to legally name the two South Pacific islands that make up more than 95% of New Zealand’s land area.

The board had spent several years exploring a process for formally recognising alternative Maori names for each island when it noticed that the islands had never been given official names, board chairman Don Grant said.

“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,” Mr Grant said.

The New Zealand Geographic Board assigns, approves, alters or discontinues the use of place names for land features, undersea features and protected areas in New Zealand, its offshore islands and its continental shelf and in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica.

South Island, the larger of the pair, is also known locally as “the Mainland,” while North Island, where three-quarters of the population lives, is also called “Pig Island,” partly for the wild pigs that explorer James Cook brought during a visit and that still roam in the wilderness.

More in this Section

Drink-driving footballers told they brought ‘shame upon club’ as they avoid jailDrink-driving footballers told they brought ‘shame upon club’ as they avoid jail

Margaret Atwood: Booker Prize will be irrelevant if we don’t save environmentMargaret Atwood: Booker Prize will be irrelevant if we don’t save environment

Jurors in sexual assault trial shown pictures of Gascoigne kissesJurors in sexual assault trial shown pictures of Gascoigne kisses

Nato chief voices ‘deep concerns’ over Turkish military action in northern SyriaNato chief voices ‘deep concerns’ over Turkish military action in northern Syria


Lifestyle

My sister Gabriella always says that during sibling whispers all I ever wanted was to be on stage.This Much I Know: Man of many talents Mike Hanrahan

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman whose husband is controlling and belittling her.Ask a counsellor: ‘My husband is so controlling – what do I do?’

Peter Dowdall branches out to take a look at the mountain ash or rowan.Rowan berries show us how nature is stocking its larder for winter

More From The Irish Examiner