Wharekauri: First Time Encounter

Diana Kawana regional co-ordinator for Wellington, Kāpiti, Horowhenua and Manawatū visited Wharekauri for the first-time. As we catch up with her we find out a little bit more about the rural island.

Published: Wednesday, 16 December 2015 | Rāapa, 16 Hakihea, 2015

750km to the east of New Zealand's South Island lie the Chatham Islands, home to one of Aotearoa’s most remote communities. 

Around 600 people live on two of the 11 islands that make up the Chatham’s, with incomes largely reliant on farming, fishing, conservation and tourism. 

Earlier this year, Diana Kawana regional co-ordinator for Wellington, Kāpiti, Horowhenua and Manawatū, visited the picturesque Wharekauri for the first time.

Kawana was there to make a full assessment of the needs of the Māori Wardens on the island in comparison with mainland Wardens.

She said it was vital to look at the requirements of the Māori Wardens, in order to adequately meet the needs of the people on the small rural island.

Diana says that it was a great experience and it was remarkable to see the conservationist approach being taken by people there.

“The ngāhere continues to provide rongoā for the people which is made into creams and potions, locals have beehives providing fresh honey, and seasonal fruit and veges are grown on the land.”

During her three-day visit Kawana was able to travel across the breadth of the island.

“It’s a spectacular model for sustainable living.  I really want to thank everyone for their manaaki during my visit and for taking time out to show me the sites and areas so I could get a good grasp of Wharekauri.”

Facts about Wharekauri | Chatham Islands:

  • The island continues to provide sustenance to its people. It takes a eco-friendly approach to utilise the whenua and kai from the moana.
  • Most of the live-produce include weka, and livestock that roam freely across the island.
  • Waitangi is a very small township that is the island’s main centre.
  • It has two stores that provide the basic essentials, a hardware store attached with a couple of gas pumps. Mainlanders can consider themselves lucky for the wide choice of shopping they have.
  • The only way back to the mainland is by plane, which carries freight coming onto the island, whilst bigger items are sent via ship.

A map of the island.