Te Ika-a-Māui (Māori)
|Area||113,729 km2 (43,911 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,797 m (9177 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Ruapehu|
|Largest settlement||Auckland (pop. 1,440,300)|
|Population||3,922,000 (June 2022)|
|Pop. density||34.5/km2 (89.4/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 km2 (43,911 sq mi), making it the world's 14th-largest island. The world's 28th-most-populous island, and the most populous island in Polynesia, the North Island has a population of 3,922,000 (June 2022), 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-Māui in October 2013.
In prose, the two main islands of New Zealand are called the North Island and the South Island, with the definite article. It is also 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".
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 right up 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.
During Captain James Cook's voyage between 1769 and 1770, Tahitian navigator Tupaia accompanied the circumnavigation of New Zealand. The maps described the North Island as "Ea Heinom Auwe" and "Aeheinomowe", which recognises the "Fish of Māui" element.
Another Māori name that was given to the North Island, but is now used less commonly, is Aotearoa. Use of Aotearoa to descibe the North Island fell out of favour in the early 20th century and it is now a collective Māori name for New Zealand as a whole. 
During the Last Glacial Period when sea levels were over 100 metres lower than present day levels, the North and South islands were connected by a vast coastal plain which formed at the South Taranaki Bight. During this period, most of the North Island was covered in thorn scrubland and forest, while the modern-day Northland Peninsula was a subtropical rainforest. Sea levels began to rise 7,000 years ago, eventually separating the islands and linking the Cook Strait to the Tasman Sea.
Bays and coastal features
- Bay of Islands
- Bay of Plenty
- Hauraki Gulf
- Firth of Thames
- Hawke Bay
- Ninety Mile Beach
- North Taranaki Bight
- South Taranaki Bight
Lakes and rivers
Capes and peninsulas
Forests and national parks
- Egmont National Park
- Tongariro National Park
- Waipoua Kauri Forest
- Whanganui National Park
- and many forest parks of New Zealand
- Auckland Volcanic Field
- Mount Ruapehu
- Mount Taranaki (Taranaki Maunga)
- Mount Tarawera
- Whakaari / White Island
- North Island Volcanic Plateau
The North Island has an estimated population of 3,922,000 as of June 2022.
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 Islanders, 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
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 30 urban areas in the North Island with a population of 10,000 or more:
|% of island|
The sub-national GDP of the North Island was estimated at US$102.863 billion in 2003, 79% of New Zealand's national GDP.
Nine local government regions cover the North Island and its adjacent islands and territorial waters.
- Bay of Plenty
- Hawke's Bay Region
- Wellington Region
Healthcare in the North Island is provided by fifteen District Health Boards (DHBs). Organised around geographical areas of varying population sizes, they are not coterminous with the Local Government Regions.
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