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North Island
Te Ika-a-Māui  (Māori)
NewZealand.A2002296.2220.250m North Island crop.jpg
Geography
Location Oceania
Archipelago New Zealand
Area 113,729 km2 (43,911 sq mi)
Area rank 14th
Highest elevation 2,797 m (9,177 ft)
Highest point Mount Ruapehu
Administration
New Zealand
ISO 3166-2:NZ NZ-N
Regions 9
Territorial authorities 43
Largest settlement Auckland (pop. 1,470,100)
Demographics
Population 3,896,200 (June 2020)
Pop. density 34.3 /km2 (88.8 /sq mi)

The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but much less populous South Island by the Cook Strait. The island's area is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi), making it the world's 14th-largest island. It has a population of 3,896,200 (June 2020), accounting for approximately 77% of the total residents of New Zealand.

Twelve main urban areas (half of them officially cities) are in the North Island. From north to south, they are Whangārei, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Napier, Hastings, Whanganui, Palmerston North, and New Zealand's capital city Wellington, which is located at the south-west tip of the island.

Naming and usage

Although the island has been known as the North Island for many years, in 2009 the New Zealand Geographic Board found that, along with the South Island, the North Island had no official name. After a public consultation, the board officially named the island North Island or Te Ika-a-Maui in October 2013.

In prose, the two main islands of New Zealand are called the North Island and the South Island, with the definite articles. It is normal to use the preposition in rather than on, for example "Hamilton is in the North Island", "my mother lives in the North Island". Maps, headings, tables and adjectival expressions use North Island without the.

Māori mythology

According to Māori mythology, the North and South Islands of New Zealand arose through the actions of the demigod Māui. Māui and his brothers were fishing from their canoe (the South Island) when he caught a great fish and pulled it from the sea. While he was not looking his brothers fought over the fish and chopped it up. This great fish became the North Island and thus a Māori name for the North Island is Te Ika-a-Māui (The Fish of Māui). The mountains and valleys are believed to have been formed as a result of Māui's brothers' hacking at the fish. Until the early 20th Century, an alternative Māori name for the North Island was Aotearoa. In present usage, Aotearoa is a collective name for New Zealand as a whole.

Ecology

The North Island is divided into two ecoregions within the Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests Biome, the northern part being the Northland temperate kauri forest, and the southern part being the North Island temperate forests. The island has an extensive flora and bird population, with numerous National Parks and other protected areas.

Regions

NZ Territorial Authorities North Island
Territorial authorities of the North Island

Nine local government regions cover the North Island and all its adjacent islands and territorial waters.

Cities and towns

The North Island has a larger population than the South Island with both the country's largest city, Auckland as well as the capital, Wellington at either ends of the island.

NZNorthIsland
Map of the North Island showing some of its cities
Urban areas of the North Island by population
Urban area Region Population (June 2016) Urban area Region Population (June 2016)
1 Auckland Auckland &&&&&&&&01495000.&&&&&01,495,000   11 Wanganui Manawatu-Wanganui &&&&&&&&&&039600.&&&&&039,600
2 Wellington Wellington &&&&&&&&&0405000.&&&&&0405,000   13 Gisborne Gisborne &&&&&&&&&&036100.&&&&&036,100
3 Hamilton Waikato &&&&&&&&&0230000.&&&&&0230,000   13 Pukekohe Auckland &&&&&&&&&&029800.&&&&&029,800
4 Tauranga Bay of Plenty &&&&&&&&&0134400.&&&&&0134,400   14 Taupo Waikato &&&&&&&&&&024100.&&&&&024,100
5 Napier-Hastings Hawke's Bay &&&&&&&&&0131000.&&&&&0131,000   15 Masterton Wellington &&&&&&&&&&021200.&&&&&021,200
6 Palmerston North Manawatu-Wanganui &&&&&&&&&&084300.&&&&&084,300   16 Levin Manawatu-Wanganui &&&&&&&&&&020600.&&&&&020,600
7 Rotorua Bay of Plenty &&&&&&&&&&057800.&&&&&057,800   17 Whakatāne Bay of Plenty &&&&&&&&&&019600.&&&&&019,600
8 New Plymouth Taranaki &&&&&&&&&&056800.&&&&&056,800   18 Feilding Manawatu-Wanganui &&&&&&&&&&016250.&&&&&016,250
9 Whangarei Northland &&&&&&&&&&056400.&&&&&056,400   19 Tokoroa Waikato &&&&&&&&&&013700.&&&&&013,700
10 Kapiti Wellington &&&&&&&&&&041800.&&&&&041,800   20 Hawera Taranaki &&&&&&&&&&011800.&&&&&011,800

Major geographic features

New Zealand North Island
The North Island, in relation to the South Island

Bays and coastal features

Lakes and rivers

Capes and peninsulas

Forests and national parks

Volcanology

Other

Demographics

The North Island has an estimated population of 3,896,200 as of June 2020.

Ever since the conclusion of the Otago Goldrush in the 1860s, New Zealand's European population growth has experienced a steady 'Northern drift' as population centres in the North Island have grown faster than those of New Zealand's South Island. This population trend has continued into the twenty-first century, but at a much slower rate. While the North Island population continues to grows faster than the South Island, this is solely due to the North Island having higher natural increase (i.e. births minus deaths) and international migration; since the late 1980s, the internal migration flow has been from the North Island to the South Island. In the year to June 2020, the North Island gained 21,950 people from natural increase and 62,710 people from international migration, while losing 3,570 people from internal migration.

Culture and identity

At the 2018 New Zealand census, 65.7% of North Islanders identified as of European ethnicity, 18.5% as Māori, 17.0% as Asian, 9.7% as Pacific Peoples, 1.6% as Middle Eastern/Latin American/African, and 1.2% as another ethnicity (mainly 'New Zealander'). Totals add to more than 100% since people may identify with multiple ethnicities.

The proportion of North Islanders born overseas is 29.3%. The most common foreign countries of birth are England (15.4% of overseas-born residents), Mainland China (11.3%), India (10.1%), South Africa (5.9%), Australia (5.5%) and Samoa (5.3%).

Cities and towns

NZNorthIsland
Map of the North Island showing some of its cities

The North Island has a larger population than the South Island, with the country's largest city, Auckland, and the capital, Wellington, accounting for nearly half of it.

There are 28 urban areas in the North Island with a population of 10,000 or more:

Name Population
(June 2020)
 % of island
Auckland 1,470,100 37.7%
Wellington 215,100 5.5%
Hamilton 176,500 4.5%
Tauranga 151,300 3.9%
Lower Hutt 110,700 2.8%
Palmerston North 81,500 2.1%
Napier 66,300 1.7%
Porirua 59,600 1.5%
New Plymouth 57,600 1.5%
Rotorua 58,500 1.5%
Whangārei 54,400 1.4%
Hibiscus Coast 59,800 1.5%
Hastings 49,000 1.3%
Upper Hutt 44,300 1.1%
Whanganui 42,200 1.1%
Gisborne 37,000 0.9%
Paraparaumu 30,100 0.8%
Pukekohe 26,500 0.7%
Taupō 25,400 0.7%
Masterton 21,400 0.5%
Cambridge 20,500 0.5%
Levin 18,800 0.5%
Feilding 17,050 0.4%
Whakatāne 16,700 0.4%
Havelock North 14,900 0.4%
Tokoroa 14,300 0.4%
Te Awamutu 13,100 0.3%
Waikanae 13,650 0.4%

Economy

The sub-national GDP of the North Island was estimated at US$102.863 billion in 2003, 79% of New Zealand's national GDP.

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