Twelve cities are in the North Island: Auckland, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Hamilton, Hastings, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Wanganui, Whangarei and Wellington, the capital, located at the southern extremity of the island. Approximately 76% of New Zealand’s population lives in the North Island.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 said 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 Māori usage, Aotearoa is a collective name for New Zealand as a whole.