Sites of Historic and Cultural interest

Nunuku’s Cave (Moriori Rock Carvings)

Located on the western side of Te Whanga are limestone Moriori rock carvings (petroglyphs) of seals and birds.

Nunuku’s Cave is named after the Moriori leader Nunuku Whenua who outlawed fighting amongst the clans. Because the petroglyphs are located on private land permission must be obtained.

While visiting Nunuku’s Cave enjoy a half hour stroll along the beach with its stunning limestone cliffs and layers of shell deposits dating back 40 million years.


Rakau Momori (Moriori Tree Carvings)

Rakau momori (dendroglyphs, or tree carvings) were found formerly on kopi trees around the north, east and west coasts of Chatham Island, and also on Pitt Island.  Most, however, were concentrated in kopi groves on the northeast coast of the main island.  It is there that they can be viewed today, especially in the J. M. Barker (Hapupu) National Historic Rerserve, and Taia Bush Historic Reserve.  Most of the surviving rakau momori are stylised human figures of a kind often used in recent years as a Chatham Islands emblem.  Others  represented albatrosses and flounder, and some were more abstract.  It is beleived that the juman figures represented known ancestors and were carved as acts of mourning and rememberance when kinfolk dies.


Maunganui Stone Cottage

The timber and stone cottage at Maunganui in the North-west of Chatham Island was built between 1866 and 1868 by Moravian Missionaries, Johann Bauke and Johannes Engst. 

The Maunganui Stone Cottage is adjacent to the 178m high volcanic peak of Maunganui, and is in good condition. 


Tommy Solomon Memorial

A life size statue of Tame Horomona Rehe, known as Tommy Solomon, who is reputedly the last known full blooded Moriori.

Tommy became a sheep farmer in 1903 soon after the death of his mother and his marriage to  Ada Fowler of the Kai Tahu iwi. By 1915 Tommy was running 7000 sheep and a herd of cattle.  After the death of his wife and his father in 1915, Tommy married Whakarawa in 1916, who was the niece of his first wife, and they had five children.

During the 1920s Tommy became known as one of the most successful farmers on the Chatham Islands. He had an active social and political life and was widely respected for his generosity and his conciliatory nature.  He leaves an enduring legacy being the "last full-blooded Moriori".

Tame Horomona Rehe died in 1933 of pneumonia and heart failure. Whati Tuuta, the son of his friend George Tuuta, built the coffin for the 22 stone Tommy. The statue at Manakau, 10km from Waitangi, was erected in 1986 to acknowledge Tommy’s contribution to the Chatham Islands and to commemorate his life.


Chatham Islands Museum

 The Chatham Islands Council houses a small museum crowded with interesting memorabilia.  It is well worth visiting to view the displays including: Moriori and Maori tools, relics from the whaling days, casts of dinosaur bones found on the Chathams, the exhibits and photos relating to early life on the Islands, and to browse through some of the publications.

Read about the following, including many of New Zealand firsts:

Nunuku's Law -  Home of the Moriori -  Only area of New Zealand ever to suffer foreign naval bombardment -  "Potato capital of the South Pacific" during the whaling days -  244 American whaling ships called at the Chathams between 1835 and 1888 -  Chatham whaling grounds were the busiest in the Pacific - Several Chatham Islanders were taken prisoner by the Germans during the second World War when the SS Holmwood was torpedoed and sunk - only area of New Zealand to lose a member of the community to a tsunami - the diverse early population - Rangikapua Reserve was fenced off privately in 1891 and is possibly the oldest private reserve in New Zealand - second earliest registered racing club in New Zealand (after Auckland) - Betty Braid was the first woman jockey to win the 2-mile race but because she was unregistered  that accolade went to Linda Jones of the NZ mainland instead -  Chatham Island's inventions to adapt to the climate -  New Zealand's oldest telephone exchange - home of (what were) the world's most endangered species, the Black Robin and Taiko and much more.

The museum is open during Council office hours - Monday - Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm.


Discover Pitt Island

Pitt Island may only be 6300 hectares but it carries a precious cargo of some of the world’s rarest birds and plants. It is also the first inhabited place on Earth to greet the new day.

Pitt Island with its majestic cliffs, rugged scenery and bush reserves is a must see. 

Site of Historical Interest - Glory Cottage

Glory cottage is the oldest building on the Chatham Islands and was built in the 1860s by William Jacobs for his shearers. 

The cottage overlooks the bay of the same name, which is named after the brigantine Glory that struck a reef off Pitt Island.

Glory Cottage has been restored and is managed as a historic reserve by the Department of Conservation.

Pitt Island Tour

Daily tours depart from Waitangi airport to Pitt Island and bookings are essential as visitor numbers are strictly limited. 

With most of the Pitt Island in private ownership and difficult to access guided tours are the best way to see the island. 

Special interest tours can also be arranged.

For more information and to book tours to Pitt Island contact Pitt Island Day Tour 


Chatham Islands Directory

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