North and South Islands face name debate

06:02, Apr 02 2013

There is to be a public consultation to name New Zealand's two main islands, after a shock discovery that "North Island" and "South Island" were never official.

The discovery followed a proposal to the New Zealand Geographic Board that  South Island be changed to its original Maori name, board chairman Don Grant said.

It was then found the English names for both islands had never been formalised.

The board will open the decision to the public on whether the English name or the Maori name, or both names together should be used as official names.

Dr Grant said the islands could potentially be referred to by all four names - the 'North Island' or 'Te Ika-a-Maui' and the 'South Island' or 'Te Waipounamu'.

Despite not being official names, North Island and South Island appear on maps and charts, and other official publications as recorded names.