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Chatham Island

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Title: Chatham Island  
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Subject: Matarakau Point, Okawa Point, Makara River (Chatham Islands), Nairn River, Lake Huro
Collection: Islands of the Chatham Islands
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Chatham Island

Chatham Island
Rekohu (Moriori)
Wharekauri (Māori)
Chatham Island from space.
Map showing location of Chatham Island
Archipelago Chatham Islands
Area 920 km2 (360 sq mi)
Population 600 (as of 2013)
Ethnic groups Moriori (Maori Sub Group)

Chatham Island is by far the largest island of the Chatham Islands group, in the south Pacific Ocean off the eastern coast of New Zealand. It is said to be "halfway between the equator and the pole, and right on the International Date Line". The island is called Rekohu ("misty skies") in Moriori, and Wharekauri in Maori. [1]

The island was named after the survey ship HMS Chatham which was the first European ship to locate the island in 1791.[2] It covers an area of 920 square kilometres (355 sq mi).[3] Chatham Island lies 650 km (404 mi) south-east of Cape Turnagain, the nearest point of mainland New Zealand to the island.


  • Geography 1
  • Flora and fauna 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Flag of Chatham Islands

The geography of the roughly T-shaped island is dominated by three features: two bays and a lagoon. More than half of the west coast of Chatham is taken up by the deep indentation of Petre Bay. The island's main settlement of Waitangi is located in a small indentation in Petre Bay's southern sage. Other significant settlements are Kaingaroa on the northeast promontory, and Owenga on the south side of Hanson Bay.

On the east coast is the even larger Hanson Bay, which stretches for the entire length of the island (35 kilometres (22 mi)).[4]

Much of the area between the bays is taken up by the large Te Whanga Lagoon, which drains to the sea to the east, into the southern half of Hanson Bay. This lagoon covers about 160 square kilometres (62 sq mi),[5] and drains several small rivers that rise in the hills at the south end of the island. The next largest lakes are Rangitai and Huro, respectively northeast and southwest of Te Whanga.[6] The central and north part of Chatham Island are mostly flat, with altitudes raging from a few metres on the northeast and center to 50 m on the northwest, but with a few scattered hillocks.[6] The south part is higher, generally sloping down towards north and west; about half of it is over 150 m above sea level. The south coast of the island is mostly cliffs 100 m high or more. The highest point of the island (299 m) lies close to its southernmost point.[6]

Flora and fauna

Chatham Island hosts the only known breeding populations of the endemic and critically endangered Magenta petrel.

In popular culture

Chatham Island (or "Isle") is featured in the first and in the final chapter of Cloud Atlas, the 2004 novel by David Mitchell. The novel was adapted for screen.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Government of New Zealand, Dept. of Conservation (1999) Chatham IslandsConservation Management Strategy. Accessed on 2012-07-13.
  2. ^ Steven Hooper (30 July 2006). Pacific Encounters: Art & Divinity in Polynesia 1760-1860. University of Hawaii Press. p. 119.  
  3. ^ "Story: Chatham Islands Page 1 – Overview". web page. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Ross Curtis (2011). "Chatham Island Wildlife & Landscapes". web page. Ross Curtis. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Te Whanga Lagoon". web page. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Chatham Island, NZ Topo Map. Accessed on 2012-07-14.
  7. ^ Walsh, David (November 2, 2012). : Six stories in search of a genuine connection"Cloud Atlas". Retrieved November 19, 2012. 
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