War Stories and Wildlife on Matiu-Somes Island

a photo of the rocky shoreline of matiu somes island in wellington harbour
photo by Gabrielle Elizabeth

HISTORY

Previously, Matiu/Somes was used as a human and animal quarantine site, an internment camp, and a military defence zone. In 1995 the island opened to the public as a Department of Conservation scientific and historic reserve. It is now a refuge for native wildlife, and a peaceful escape from the city, owned by local iwi, Taranaki Whānui. The island is embedded in rich history coming from both Māori and European influence. Matiu is the original Māori name for the Island, named by Kupe over 1,000 years ago. It was then renamed Somes Island after Joseph Somes, a British ship builder. In 1997, the Geographic Board gave the island its current name, in reference to both sides of its heritage, Matiu/Somes Island. While you’re trekking around, taking in the sights, there are historical markers to read up on the area’s history along the way.

left: photo of the wellington harbour lighthouse on matiu somes island. the lighthouse is white and blue, nestles in the desnse bush, with palm tree in the foreground and the ocean in the background. right: photo of the rocky shoreline of wellington harbor’s matiu somes island, a palm tree waves in the foreground, the ocean is bright blue, and sea cave is seen.
photos by Gabrielle Elizabeth
photo by Gabrielle Elizabeth

WILDLIFE

Did you know that in New Zealand, sheep outnumber people at a ratio of almost 6 to 1?! And at its peak, in 1982, there were 22 sheep for every one person. (Photo by Gabrielle Elizabeth)

PLANNING A TRIP

photos by Gabrielle Elizabeth
photo by Gabrielle Elizabeth
photo by Gabrielle Elizabeth
photo by Gabrielle Elizabeth

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