Rēkohu

Misty Sun

Photography courtesy of Robbie Lanauze and Chatham Island Food Co.

Featured in Capital #75
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In the 90s the Chatham Islands became part of the Rongotai electorate, making it the most remote region of Wellington (or at least that’s what we’re claiming).

Called Rēkohu by indigenous Moriori people, the islands were rediscovered and renamed in 1791 by the crew of British naval ship HMS Chatham.

Home to 663 residents, the economy of the Chathams relies largely on conservation, farming, fishing, and tourism.
While the rest of the country has been struggling with tourism numbers, the islands have seen an increase – it’s no surprise that with overseas travel off the cards, we are visiting in droves.

In the first instalment of our Rēkohu series, Chathams-born photographer Robbie Lanauze takes us on a photographic tour of New Zealand’s easternmost islands and the first to see the sun.

Quick
facts

  • The Chatham Islands are 45 minutes ahead of Wellington.
  • There are no mobile phone networks on the island.
  • The nearest mainland New Zealand point to the Chatham Islands is Cape Turnagain, which lies about 60 km north of Castlepoint.
  • Locals call themselves “Wekas”.
Clay cliffs of Tikitiki with the main township of Waitangi in the distance.
Local James Moffett monitors the incoming weather from his farm on Pitt Island, looking out to South East Island.
The Pyramid lies south of Pitt Island and is the only known breeding colony for the Chatham Island albatross, more commonly known as the Mollymawk.
Moriori would make the hazardous voyage by waka to this sacred rock each year to collect the birds, which were a delicacy.
The Pyramid is also known in Moriori as Tcharok’or Tcharoko which means “the sharp point”. In Māori it is called Tarakoikoi which means “to be sharp”.
Jamie Lanauze and Dustin King stop for a smoke and a yarn while fishing for crayfish off the Pitt Island coast. Fishing and crayfishing are big business in the Chathams. Regular shipments are made to Wellington by local fishing firm Chatham Island Food Co, who say demand is growing.
Early morning mist hovers over Mangere and Little Mangere islands with the Castles in the far distance.
Bird’s-eye view of the wool shed at Tuku farm, Chatham Island.
Tyson Kamo shearing sheep at North Head Farm, Pitt Island. The island is home to one of Aotearoa’s oldest and rarest sheep breeds, the Pitt Island Sheep. These sheep are descendants of animals imported by Samuel Marsden on his ship the Active, sometime between 1814 and 1837.
Tuku Farm, located on the South Coast of Chatham Island. The farm is also home to Taiko, the world’s rarest seabird, with about 15 known breeding pairs left.
Beached pilot whales at Waitangi West, 96 of them. According to the Department of Conservation, mass strandings are reasonably common on the Chatham Islands. In 1918, up to 1,000 whales were stranded on the islands – the largest incident of its kind in New Zealand.
Bush surrounding the base of Maunganui. At 120m tall, the ridge stands as a reminder of the islands’ volcanic history.

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