'It will happen' - South Island Independence Movement vows to break away

The South Island Independence Movement has been resurrected and its founder says the island will become a separate country.

The South Island had its own government for a year in 1848, TVNZ1's Seven Sharp recalled.

It almost became its own country in a movement founded 20 years later, when a bill in Parliament was lost by just 17 votes.

Now the revived South Island Independence Movement has well over 1,000 followers on Facebook.

The arguments for secession 170 years ago were the same as they are today by the new movement's founder, Solomon Tor-Kilsen.

"You've got all the taxes that are raised in the South Island, all the GDP of the South Island, and that goes into the collective coffers and we don't get anywhere near back what we put in," he said.

The South Island as an independent country would, with just over one million people, have one of the smallest populations in the world - not much more than Fiji's.

But it would also have the 75th biggest economy in the world, with its own currency, flag, army and passport. 

"It will happen. We're not going away this time," Mr Tor-Kilsen said.

"There's massive discontent in the South."  

South Islanders are not alone. In Scotland, Catalonia, Texas and Western Australia, the global secessionist movement is rising.

"People want to look after themselves and they don't want to be dictated to by governments really far away that are dictating what they should be doing in their own backyard," Mr Tor-Kilsen said.

In 1999 the South Island Party ran for national office, led by Dunedin south locals Pat and Margaret McCarrigan.

The party got about 3000 votes nationwide, Ms McCarrigan herself getting almost 1000 votes in Dunedin South. 

They're on board with the new push for independence.

"I hope and pray it does happen," Mr McCarrigan said.   

Ms McCarrigan added: "But I think it it will take time. And of course it'll take a lot of money." 

Some southerners think it’s time to ditch their North Island whānau. Source: Seven Sharp