The Maori names for the North and South Islands are likely to be officially recognised later this year.
The Geographic Board, Nga Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa, has agreed in principle to formalise Te Ika-a-Maui and Te Waipounamu as having equal status with the English names, North and South Islands, but it will consult the public before making a final decision.
The chairperson of the board, Dr Don Grant, says while the Maori and English names have appeared on maps over the years, neither has ever been made official.
He says the names were first given to the two islands by Maori, and Captain James Cook recorded them on his charts.
Dr Grant says the Maori names appeared on maps until the 1950s, and it's unclear why that ceased.
He says the board now wants to restore the names officially.
A final decision is likely in July.