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Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island

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Great Barrier Island is a large island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, situated 100 kilometres (62.1 mi) to the north-east of central Auckland
Auckland
The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

 in the outer Hauraki Gulf
Hauraki Gulf
The Hauraki Gulf is a coastal feature of the North Island of New Zealand. It has a total area of 4000 km², and lies between the Auckland Region, the Hauraki Plains, the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island...

. With an area of 285 square kilometres (110 sq mi) it is the fourth-largest island of New Zealand's main chain of islands, with its highest point, Mount Hobson
Mount Hobson, Great Barrier Island
Mount Hobson is the highest mountain on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand. Located in the centre of the island, it rises above sea level....

, rising 621 metres (2,037 ft). The local authority
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

 is the Auckland Council
Auckland Council
The Auckland Council is the council for the Auckland Region in New Zealand. It began operating on 1 November 2010, combining the functions of the existing regional council and the region's seven previous city and district councils into one "super council" or "super city" governed by a mayor, 20...

.

The remote island was initially exploited for its minerals and kauri trees and saw only some limited agriculture. It is now inhabited by a small population of 852 people, mostly living from farming and tourism. The majority of the diverse environments of the island (around 60% of the total area) is administered as nature reserve by the Department of Conservation
New Zealand Department of Conservation
The Department of Conservation , commonly known by its acronym, "DOC", is the state sector organisation which deals with the conservation of New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage...

. In 2009 the island atmosphere was described as being "life in New Zealand many decades back", not without some positive emphasis.

Geography


With an area of 285 square kilometres (110 sq mi), Great Barrier is the sixth-largest island in New Zealand after the South Island
South Island
The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean...

, the North Island
North Island
The North Island is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island is in area, making it the world's 14th-largest island...

, Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island/Rakiura is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies south of the South Island, across Foveaux Strait. Its permanent population is slightly over 400 people, most of whom live in the settlement of Oban.- History and naming :...

, Chatham Island, and Auckland Island
Auckland Island
Auckland Island is the main island of the Auckland Islands, an uninhabited archipelago in the south Pacific Ocean belonging to New Zealand. It is inscribed in the together with the other subantarctic New Zealand islands in the region as follows: 877-004 Auckland Isls, New Zealand S50.29 E165.52...

. The highest point, Mount Hobson
Mount Hobson, Great Barrier Island
Mount Hobson is the highest mountain on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand. Located in the centre of the island, it rises above sea level....

 or Hirakimata, is 621 metres (2,037 ft) above sea level. Smaller surrounding islands include Kaikoura Island
Kaikoura Island
Kaikoura Island lies to the west of Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand. Kaikoura Island is the seventh largest island in the Hauraki Gulf, north east of Auckland...

, Rakitu Island, Aiguilles Island
Aiguilles Island
Aiguilles Island is an uninhabited island just to the northeast of Great Barrier Island in the Northland Region of New Zealand. The island reaches a height of and is from the New Zealand mainland.-External links:***...

 and Dragon Island
Dragon Island
Dragon Island is a privately owned island off the northeast coast of New Zealand's Great Barrier Island. It is located to the northeast of Auckland....

.

The island's European name stems from its location on the outskirts of the Hauraki Gulf. With a maximum length (north-south) of some 43 kilometres (26.7 mi), it and the Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula lies in the North Island of New Zealand. It is part of the Waikato Region and Thames-Coromandel District and extends 85 kilometres north from the western end of the Bay of Plenty, forming a natural barrier to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames in the west...

 (directly to its south) protect the gulf from the storms of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 to the east. Consequently, the island boasts highly contrasting coastal environments. The eastern coast comprises long, clear beaches, windswept sand-dunes, and heavy surf. The western coast, sheltered and calm, is home to hundreds of tiny, secluded bays which offer some of the best diving and boating in the country. The inland holds several large and biologically diverse wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s, along with rugged hill country (bush or heath in the more exposed heights), as well as old-growth and regenerating kauri forests.

Etymology


The island received its European name from Captain Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 because it acts as a barrier between the Pacific Ocean and Gulf. The Māori
Maori language
Māori or te reo Māori , commonly te reo , is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, the Māori. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand...

 name is Aotea.

Entrance to the Hauraki Gulf
Hauraki Gulf
The Hauraki Gulf is a coastal feature of the North Island of New Zealand. It has a total area of 4000 km², and lies between the Auckland Region, the Hauraki Plains, the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island...

 is via two channels, one on either side of the island. Colville Channel
Colville Channel
The Colville Channel is one of three channels connecting the Hauraki Gulf with the Pacific Ocean to the northeast of Auckland, New Zealand. It is the easternmost channel, lying between the southern end of Great Barrier Island and Cape Colville at the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula...

 separates the island's southernmost point (Cape Barrier) from Cape Colville
Cape Colville
Cape Colville is the northernmost point of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand's North Island. It lies 85 kilometres north of Thames, and 70 kilometres northeast of the city of Auckland, on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf....

 at the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula to the south, and Cradock Channel
Cradock Channel
The Cradock Channel is one of three channels connecting the Hauraki Gulf with the Pacific Ocean to the northeast of Auckland, New Zealand. It is the central channel, lying between Great Barrier Island to the east and Little Barrier Island to the west....

 separates the island from the smaller Little Barrier Island to the west. The island protects the 'Gulf' from the ocean surface waves and the currents of the South Pacific Gyre
South Pacific Gyre
The “South Pacific Gyre” is the Earth’s biggest system of rotating ocean currents, bounded by equator to the north, Australia to the west, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to the south, and South America to the east...

. Note that despite its name, Great Barrier Island not a sandbar barrier
Barrier island
Barrier islands, a coastal landform and a type of barrier system, are relatively narrow strips of sand that parallel the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen...

 which is often defined as the correct use of the term.

History



Local industries


Mining
Early European interest in the island followed discovery of copper in the remote north of the island, where New Zealand's earliest mines were established at Miners Head in 1842. Traces of these mines still remain, largely accessible only by boat. Later on, gold and silver were found in the Okupu / Whangaparapara area in the 1890s, with the remains of a stamping battery
Stamp mill
A stamp mill is a type of mill machine that crushes material by pounding rather than grinding, either for further processing or for extraction of metallic ores. Breaking material down is a type of unit operation....

 on the Whangaparapara Road forming one of the remainders of this time. The sound of the battery working was reputedly audible from the Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula lies in the North Island of New Zealand. It is part of the Waikato Region and Thames-Coromandel District and extends 85 kilometres north from the western end of the Bay of Plenty, forming a natural barrier to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames in the west...

, 20km away.

In early 2010, a government proposal to remove 705 ha of land on the Te Ahumata Plateau (called "White Cliffs" by the locals) from Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act
Crown Minerals Act 1991
The Crown Minerals Act is an Act of Parliament passed in 1991 in New Zealand. It controls the management of Crown owed minerals. Potential changes to Schedule 4 of the Act created controversy and opposition in 2010...

, which gives protection from the mining of public land, was widely criticised. Concerns were that mining for the suspected $4.3 billion in mineral worth in the area would damage both the conservation land as well as the island's tourism economy. Locals were split on the project, some hoping for new jobs. If restarted, mining at White Cliffs would occur in the same area it originally proliferated on Great Barrier. The area's regenerating bushland still holds numerous semi-collapsed or open mining shafts where silver and gold had been mined.


Kauri logging

The kauri
Agathis australis
Agathis australis, commonly known as the kauri, is a coniferous tree found north of 38°S in the northern districts of New Zealand's North Island. It is the largest but not tallest species of tree in New Zealand, standing up to 50 m tall in the emergent layer above the forest's main canopy. The...

 logging industry was profitable in the island's early European days and up to the mid 20th century. Forests however were well inland even though there was no easy way to get the logs to the sea or to sawmills. Kauri logs were dragged to a convenient stream bed with steep sides and a driving dam was constructed of wood with a lifting gate near the bottom large enough for the logs to pass through. When the dam had filled, which might take up to a year, the gate was opened and the logs floating above the dam were pushed out through the hole and swept down to the sea. The logging industry cut down large swaths of old growth, and most of the current growth is younger native forest (around 150,000 kauri seedlings were planted by the New Zealand Forest Service
New Zealand Forest Service
The New Zealand Forest Service was originally established in 1919 as the State Forest Service. The State Forest Service changed its name to the New Zealand Forest Service in 1949 at about the same time that the Forests Act of 1949 passed through Parliament....

 in the 1970s and 1980s) as well as some remaining kauri in the far north of the island. Today much of the island is covered with regenerating bush dominated by kanuka
Kanuka
Kunzea ericoides is a tree or shrub which is restricted to Australia and New Zealand. Until 1983, Kānuka was classified as being in the genus Leptospermum.-Distribution and ecology:...

 and kauri.

Other industries

The island was also the site of New Zealand's last whaling
Whaling
Whaling is the hunting of whales mainly for meat and oil. Its earliest forms date to at least 3000 BC. Various coastal communities have long histories of sustenance whaling and harvesting beached whales...

 station, at Whangaparapara, which was opened only in 1956 (over a century after the whaling industry peaked in New Zealand), and was to be closed again (due to depletion of whaling stocks and increasing protection of whale species) by 1962. Some remains can still be visited in the bay.

Another small-scale industry on the island was kauri gum digging, while dairy farming and sheep farming have tended to play a small role compared to the usual New Zealand practice. A local fishing industry also existed, but collapsed when international fish prices dropped. In modern days, Great Barrier Islanders are generally occupied in tourism, farming or service-related industries, when not working off-island in other jobs.

Shipwrecks



The remote north of the island was the site of the sinking of the SS Wairarapa
SS Wairarapa
The SS Wairarapa was a New Zealand ship of the late 19th century plying the route between the Auckland, New Zealand and Australia. It came to tragic fame when it hit a reef at the northern edge of Great Barrier Island, about 100 km out from Auckland, and sunk. The death toll of around 140 people...

 around midnight of 29 October 1894. This tragedy was one of New Zealand's worst shipwrecks, with about 140 lives lost, some of them buried in two beach grave sites in the far north of the island. As a result a Great Barrier Island pigeon post
Pigeon post
Pigeon post is the use of homing pigeons to carry messages. Pigeons were effective as messengers due to their natural homing abilities. The pigeons were transported to a destination in cages, where they would be attached with messages, then naturally the pigeon would fly back to its home where the...

 service was set up, the first message being flown on 14 May 1897. Special postage stamps were issued from October 1898 until 1908, when a new communications cable was laid to the mainland, which made the pigeon post redundant. Another major wreck lies on the opposite end of the island in the far southeast, the SS Wiltshire.

Nature reserves


Over time, more and more parts of the island came under the stewardship of the Department of Conservation (DOC) or its predecessors. Partly this was land that had always belonged to the Crown, while other parts were sold or donated like the more than 10% of the island (located in the northern bush area, with some of the largest remaining kauri forests) that was gifted to the Crown by farmer Max Burrill in 1984. DOC has created a large number of walking tracks through the island, some which are also open for mountain biking.

Great Barrier is free of some of the more troublesome introduced pests that plague the native ecosystems of other parts of New Zealand. While wild cats, dogs, feral pigs, black rat
Black Rat
The black rat is a common long-tailed rodent of the genus Rattus in the subfamily Murinae . The species originated in tropical Asia and spread through the Near East in Roman times before reaching Europe by the 1st century and spreading with Europeans across the world.-Taxonomy:The black rat was...

s, Polynesian rat
Polynesian Rat
The Polynesian Rat, or Pacific Rat , known to the Māori as kiore, is the third most widespread species of rat in the world behind the Brown Rat and Black Rat. The Polynesian Rat originates in Southeast Asia but, like its cousins, has become well travelled – infiltrating Fiji and most Polynesian...

s and mice are present, the island has no known populations of possum
Common Brushtail Possum
The Common Brushtail Possum is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial of the family Phalangeridae, it is native to Australia, and the largest of the possums.Like most possums, the Common Brushtail is nocturnal...

s, mustelid
Mustelidae
Mustelidae , commonly referred to as the weasel family, are a family of carnivorous mammals. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, at least partly because in the past it has been a catch-all category for many early or poorly differentiated taxa...

s (weasels, stoats or ferrets), hedgehogs, brown rat
Brown Rat
The brown rat, common rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat is one of the best known and most common rats....

s or deer, thus being a relative haven for native bird and plant populations. Feral goats were eradicated in 2006. Rare animals found on the island include Brown Teal
Brown Teal
The Brown Teal or New Zealand Teal, is a species of dabbling duck of the genus Anas. The Māori name for it is Pāteke. It was considered to be conspecific with the flightless Auckland and Campbell Teals in Anas aucklandica; the name "Brown Teal" was applied to that entire taxon...

 ducks, Black Petrel
Parkinson's Petrel
Black Petrel , also called the Parkinson's Petrel, is a large, black petrel, the smallest of the Procellaria. The species is an endemic breeder of New Zealand, breeding only on islands off the North Island, on Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier Island. At sea it disperses as far as Australia...

 seabirds and North Island Kākā
Kaka
The New Zealand Kaka, also known as Kākā, is a New Zealand parrot endemic to the native forests of New Zealand.-Description:...

 parrots.

Population



Settlements


Great Barrier Island in 2006 had a permanent population of around 850, primarily in coastal settlements such as Tryphena, the largest settlement in Tryphena Harbour at the southern end of the island. Other communities are Okupu, Whangaparapara, Port Fitzroy, Claris and Kaitoke. There is no central power on the island, and houses require their own generators. There is also extensive use of solar water heating, solar panels for electricity and wind-powered generators on the island.

The population of the island has decreased significantly in recent years, losing 1 in 6 people in just five years up to the 2006 Census although house values have increased. The most significant increase in values has been at Kaitoke, where the white sandy beaches (Kaitoke and Medlands), nearby hot springs, and the central location on the island, with the adjacent airfield, have allowed for a burgeoning vacation centre. The population of the island swells substantially during the main holiday seasons, though it is still not a major tourist destination due to its relative remoteness.

The rural and remote character is also reflected in the fact that it is the Auckland Region's 'suburb' with the lowest median income, at NZ$25,100, compared to an average of NZ$37,300 and the highest value of NZ$60,000. The island's population is also very old on average, with half being over 50 years old.

From the end of February 2007, the island was seen around the world as the setting for the BBC One reality show, Castaway
Castaway 2007
Castaway 2007 was a follow-up to the BBC series Castaway 2000 in which a group of people from the British public are "castaway" on a remote island. While in the 2000 series 36 men, women and children moved to a remote Scottish island for a year, this series featured 15 men and women from the...

, which was filmed there for three months.



Transport


There are airfields at Claris (Great Barrier Aerodrome
Great Barrier Aerodrome
-Operational information:*Bitumen runway strength: ESWL 2100*Grass runway strength: ESWL 1230**AGA*NDB 274 GB**Lighting*Emergency PAL strobe approach lighting Runway 28...

) and Okiwi. Great Barrier Airlines
Great Barrier Airlines
Great Barrier Airlines is a New Zealand airline that was established in 1983. They flew their first scheduled service to Great Barrier Island in December 1983, departing from Ardmore Airport, an airport three nautical miles southeast of Manurewa in Auckland, New Zealand.The head office is located...

 and Fly My Sky (formerly Mountain Air) operate services from Auckland Airport, and North Shore Aerodrome
North Shore Aerodrome
North Shore Aerodrome sometimes also called Dairy Flat airfield, is a small, uncontrolled aerodrome located south southwest of Silverdale, near Auckland in New Zealand's North Island.- Operational Information :*Lighting...

. Air Discovery also operate a service from Tauranga and Waiheke Island, and Sunair
Sunair
Sunair is an airline in New Zealand.It operates scheduled services in the north and east of the North Island, being headquartered in Tauranga and flying to Hamilton, Rotorua, Napier, Gisborne, Whakatane, Paraparaumu, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Auckland, Whitianga and Great Barrier Island. It...

 from Whitianga. Flight time is approximately 35 minutes from Auckland.

There are two ferry services to Great Barrier Island. Fullers operate a fast ferry service over the summer and at long weekends. The Fullers ferry takes around two hours to Tryphena. SeaLink operates the Island Navigator, a passenger, car and freight ferry, operating from Wynyard Wharf in Auckland city to Tryphena (several times weekly) and Port Fitzroy every Tuesday. Sailing time is approximately four and a half hours.

Civic institutions


Institutions and services are primarily provided by the Auckland Council
Auckland Council
The Auckland Council is the council for the Auckland Region in New Zealand. It began operating on 1 November 2010, combining the functions of the existing regional council and the region's seven previous city and district councils into one "super council" or "super city" governed by a mayor, 20...

, the local authority. Services and infrastructure like roads and ferry wharves are subsidised, with the island receiving about $4 in services for every $1 in rates.

There are three primary schools on the island, but no secondary school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

s, so students either leave the island for schooling on the mainland, or do their studies via the New Zealand Correspondence School
The Correspondence School
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu or Te Kura is New Zealand's largest school with around 25,000 students enrolled each year, from early childhood to secondary level. It is headquartered in Portland Crescent in Thorndon, Wellington...

. The lack of secondary schooling has been blamed as one of the reasons for a slow exodus of long-term Great Barrier-resident families.

Although technically part of Auckland, a certain relaxation in some of the rules governing daily activities and applicable standards for civic works and services exists, shared with some of the other inhabited islands of the Hauraki Gulf.

For example, every transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

 service operated solely on Great Barrier Island, the Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands are an archipelago and New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean consisting of about ten islands within a radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Their name in the indigenous language, Moriori, means Misty Sun...

, or Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island/Rakiura is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies south of the South Island, across Foveaux Strait. Its permanent population is slightly over 400 people, most of whom live in the settlement of Oban.- History and naming :...

is exempt from section 70C of the Transport Act 1962 (the requirements for drivers to maintain driving-hours logbooks). Drivers subject to section 70B must nevertheless keep records of their driving hours in some form.

External links