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On 06/14 11:36  Steg Belsky wrote:
> On Fri, 14 Jun 2002 11:15:18 +1200 andrew <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> > It's a contraversial issue, but to most South Islanders, the South
> > Island, Waipounamu, is the mainland, and the North Island,
> > Ika-a-Maui,
> > despite having the larger population, or because of it, is
> > somewhere else.
> > - andrew.
> -
>
> What do the island names mean?
>
The English island names are obvious, although a website I was reading
recently noted that they are always definite (_the_ South Island, _the_
North Island) and governed by the preposition _in_ rather than _on_.
That's something I hadn't noted about my language before.

The name Waipounamu comes from two words: wai, water; and pounamu,
greenstone or nephrite, a precious stone which is not quite jade.  The
water either refers to the rivers where the greenstone was found in the
South Island, or the sea and river routes travelled to obtain it.

Ika-a-Maui means (the) fish of Maui and relates to the origin myth that
the North Island was raised out of the sea by the hero Maui while out on
a fishing trip.  It would have been a nicer place to live if his
brothers on the fishing trip weren't so hungry that they ate great hunks
out of the landscape.  It was a natural coincidence that when the North
Island was mapped by European settlers it turned out to be roughly
fish-shaped.

The Maori name that has come to have been given for the whole of New
Zealand is Aotearoa.  When the first person to sight the islands on the
Great Fleet caught sight of them, she shouted "Ao tea! Ao tea roa!", a
white cloud! a long white cloud!  It is believed that the name may not
have been used to designate all the islands of New Zealand until after
the later European settlement and colonisation.  That is the usage it is
most often given now.  My own opinion is that until there is an official
name change Aotearoa is not New Zealand, it would like calling Britain
Albion (cf That Hidious Strength by CS Lewis).

On calendrical matters it may interest you to know that 12 June was
Maori New Year.  This is dated to the first new moon after Matariki, the
Pleiades, are seen on the horizon in winter.

- andrew.
--
Andrew Smith, Intheologus                         [log in to unmask]
alias Mungo Foxburr of Loamsdown
http://hobbit.griffler.co.nz/homepage.html

"That's the people who hang around the edge of groups at parties.  They
are very exclusive."