South Islanders are behind a campaign to change the South Island's name to "NZ South'".
Retired Queenstown businessman Stanley Gyles, who is a spokesman for a group of otherwise anonymous "high-profile" South Islanders, said it's time the South Island asserts its independence from the drastically-different North Island.
Gyles said many South Islanders call their island the "Mainland", but said that name has also been adopted by some North Islanders.
However, it's not just a name change they are seeking.
They want to have a pared-down bureaucracy in which South Island regional councils would be scrapped, and city and district councils would be streamlined.
They believe it could also help the revival of dormant South Island towns.
"Who knows how this will progress, but initially this is to see what people in the South Island, particularly, think about their future and their own identity."
Gyles personally believed the South Island has got to a stage where it doesn't need the North Island, and that its offerings are very different from the latter.
From the South Island's world-class scenery, adventure tourism, ski slopes and walking tracks to its hydroelectric resources, from its world-famous Marlborough and Central Otago wine regions to its more laid-back people.
"For instance, we don't have an Auckland with its gangs, racial tensions, violence and congestion.
"And when an international visitor goes home and says they had a great time in NZ, they may have only come to the South Island, so they should be saying, 'we had a great holiday in NZ South'."
Apart from its similarity to "North Island", the South Island's also a boring name, Gyles said.
His group's first aim is to raise $900,000 in seed money to employ the likes of a constitutional lawyer, lobbyist, researcher and social media guru to get its campaign up and running.
A "New Zealand South" Facebook page is being launched today, in addition to a website of the same name.
While promising to dismantle bureaucracy, Gyles accepted there'll be some overriding authority – "that's to be worked through" – in charge of NZ South.
Once consultants are on board, he said there'll be a roadshow throughout the South Island to get people's views.
"You can't introduce something if people don't want it," he says.
But if the campaign's successful, he suggests NZ South's first act would be to introduce a bed tax or tourist tax to fund infrastructure.
- Mountain Scene