Naming decision nears for NZ's islands

00:41, Jul 05 2013

More than 1000 people have had their say on what to call the - officially nameless - main islands of New Zealand.

The public's opportunity to have a say on the names closes at 5pm today.

The New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) is considering whether to formalise the names North Island or Te Ika a Maui, and South Island or Te Waipounamu for the islands

Officially, neither island has been formally named, although North and South have been used for more than a century.

The NZGB discovered this after a Christchurch man proposed changing the name South Island to Te Waipounamu in 2004.

The board opened discussion to the public in April and will consider the submissions at its meeting on July 31.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson will make the final decision.

If the names are formalised, the islands could be referred to by either the English or Maori name, or both together, in official documents and maps.

Te Ika a Maui means "the fish of Maui". In traditional Maori mythology, the North Island is a fish caught by the demi-god Maui and the South Island is his waka.

Stewart Island is the waka's anchor.

Te Waipounamu means "waters of greenstone" and refers to the origin of the jade used in traditional Maori ornaments and tools.