The Chatham Islands

Rekohu, Wharekauri, the Cornwallis Islands, or the Chatham Islands. They’re all one and the same, with the only difference being your perspective on them, or how much respect you can afford to accord one group over another.

Maybe an honest thing to do would be to refer to them in the order to which they were settled.

  • Rekohu
  • Chathams
  • Wharekauri

Elsewhere, on the mainland of NZ, it has become very pc to revert to the traditional names of sites or places, or landmarks of significance, such as the odd mountain, lake or river.
Here on Rekohu, it is not that straight forward and there would be a major stumbling block if anyone were to suggest for example, that the name of the main town revert to Waiteki, or that we delete all reference to Port Hutt and it be now (re) known as Whangaroa, or that Pitt Island be offically shown on Charts as Rangiaotea, (or the European pronunciation of this as “Rangihaute” ) as it was in 1838, rather than the more recent acquisition and subsequent bestowal of the te reo “Rangiauria”.

Surely there is an answer. What have councils, both regional and local, done in areas where Iwi interestes overlap? Surely, there have been historical disputes over titles. If so what has worked. The crown has previously managed quite successfully to rename a mountain or two, without much opposition or resistance to the act, and has received general acceptance as well, in fact many would not even know where Egmont is these days. It is still there……… isnt it?

What about Aoraki…………… We know that it got shorter, because that was big news, but what did it used to be called……..? Well OK, that example hasnt been as successful as the Mt Taranaki one, but it still shows how it can work.

Renaming a place can be as simple as individuals introducing the new name into local dialect and it doesnt take very long for this to become customary usage, which is all thats needed to begin the process of forcing councils to make alterations.

What about reverting to the original Ouwenga from Owenga, (different words: different meanings)

Perhaps someone could tell me how many Moriori names that they can identify on a map or a chart of these islands?

I would wager (but I’m too tight to) that there isnt very many. In fact, I bet that less than 10% of all of the  place names on the average Chatham Island map are Moriori in origin.

Prove me wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

24 thoughts on “The Chatham Islands

  1. Greetings. And thanks – Very good to find your straight-talking commentary!
    Heartily agree with the spirit of your writing and your take on the facts. Having myself woken up to what has really gone on in the world (rather than the school-journal-version I was raised on); i tried to go on working from inside the system, before blowing the whistle. Now, rather than expecting that nations or societies will wise-up and change direction, am going to work from the ground up.
    As an analyst chasing the hi-tech path in my career, came to see that most problems have in fact been faced and solved more simply in the past. Given how quickly natural resources are being cut out by our current lifestyles and the way conflicts escalate around the world to supply us with oil etc, Rekohu shows a people who managed to work out a way of living for centuries without genocide or ecocide. Seems that ancient moriori livelihood/culture would be a good starting place. I plan to return to my primary production roots; and, if there was a chance to do so, want to play a part in creating(recreating?) something like a self-sustaining community based on human values. Sounds kind of idealistic and naive I know – but might as well aim high!
    Had looked at coming over with the peace march group a few weeks ago, but wanted to spend more time than that trip would have given. I’d very much appreciate your thoughts on coming to live on Rekohu
    very best to you….

  2. Hi,

    I am trying to locate Thomas Lanauze who I attend Wairarapa College with between 1985-1989.

    We have arranged a reunion for our 1989 1st XV on 13/14 March 2010.

    If somebody could get Thomas to contact me on the above email.


    CJ Torrance

  3. Sorry about the bloomin slack reply time, but to be honest, my auto notification had been switched off, so I didnt know that your comment was waiting for moderation. I would be very happy to discuss your idealistic and naive intentions regarding starting a subsistence lifestyle on Rekohu. Get back to me.

  4. Well, that is a typically suitable intelligent response from another red-necked racist, whether he be of Maori descent or Pakeha. What a piece of work.
    Whats up “Cuz?” Can’t you even spell those Pakeha swear words? Typical, you deny that Morori even exist, ever existed, or that if they do exist they have no rights, and by your own words, you desire them as a people so badly that you want to have sexual intercourse with the whole race? Horny? Delusions of granduer,or just a sad, pathetic, vindictive racist, who cannot face the truth finally coming out, because that will mean that you will have to face up to your own hatreds.
    Tenei ano a mutu, kei roto i tona whare-pungawerewere:

  5. You are kidding …. right?
    Two islands Rekohu and Rangiaotea (Rangiauria) are inhabited and then there are about 10 other rocks and islets sticking out of the water and Mangere and Rangatira, Motuhara, Forty Fours, Star Keys, Sisters, Pyramid, Castle, Sail rock, etc etc

  6. Hi there CJ
    Funny enough I’m Thomas Sister.
    just happened to come across this page and seen your comment
    Even though it’s a bit late now for the reunion, I’m sure he might like to get in touch with you.
    I can’t see your email address though it does not come up on the page. Can you write it and we can get in contact that way.


  7. hi to all this history is so important to nz people yet left out of the books even today . why is ok to talk about the history of the pakeha treating the maori in a brutal disgusting manner takeing there land and killing the people but if you bring up the maori taking the land of the mori ori and killing them no way dont talk about that. how dear you why is this ,it is such a important part of our history and culture and this race of people are now gone for ever they should be remembered respected and spoken of and have there proper place in our amazing nz culture and history.

  8. Tena ko r franklin,

    For the record and your information, we Moriori are not “gone forever”. We are indeed alive and well and kicking – sometimes our own backsides but thats human nature for you. Check out our website on

    There’s no shame in ignorance except when it is repeated after you have learnt the facts.

    Me rongo (in peace),
    Maui Solomon

  9. Reply to r franklin

    I appreciate that in your own way you are supporting Moriori (or maybe not) but I want to correct a couple of points. Firstly, Moriori are not “gone for ever” I and we are still very much here (check out Secondly, Moriori are not a “race” of people but are Polynesian the same as Maori, Rarotongan, Niuean, Samoan, Hawaiian, Rapanui etc etc.

    On 9 March 2011 the Minister of Education will be formally launching a series of school journals that will help set the record straight about Moriori culture and history and where we (Moriori) fit in NZ history.

    Me rongo (in peace),

  10. oops, look like a repeat! Didn’t see my 1st posting had been posted 🙂 Oh well, us Moriori have had our voices stifled for far too long so all gud…!

  11. Hi M Solomon thanks for putting me straight on my previous comments i had a look at the Moriori website really enjoyed it and learnt somethings along the way amazing photos too thanks.i guess i didnt say wat i was trying to say in my previous comment very well i just think it is not right that the history of the moriori people is not written or told like the rest of nz history but great that the goverment is now putting those books into the schools as they should have already been there.with my limited knowledge and being a fellow kiwi i think that it is a amazing culture the way the moriori lived and survived and believed in peace so strongly the rest of the world could learn from that ay. All the best wishes to R franklin

  12. Hi,

    I finished reading Michael King’s book about Moriori last night. I wanted to see what had happened since the book was published and a quick bit of googling brought me to this site. i’m delighted to find such a well informed and articulate resource about Rekohu but it’s a shame it isn’t updated more often.

  13. Greetings all at Chatham Islands,Can anyone tell me how I can make contact with “THOMAS” he found a bottle washed up on Tubung Beach on Wednesday 19th August 2015.The bottle had our contact details on the card inside. He rang me briefly but did not leave me with his contact details. We would like to re-establish communications with him or his family. The bottle was thrown overboard from the “SEA PRINCESS” cruise ship departing Wellington harbour early 2014. Any information on contacting Thomas would be greatly appreciated by us. Has the Island got a local community newspaper if so would someone be kind enough to give us the address or email for same. Thanks and regards. Brian & Nancy Jones. Brisbane.
    61 0419 872 010 — 61 07 5496 8415.

  14. Hello everyone on the Chatham Islands! I am reigning from Canada and have been picking through this blog for weeks, reading each comment meticulously and interpreting it. I have gotten the general gist that the Moriori feel deprived of a voice in some respect. I am curious if anyone sees the need for some kind of outlet. I am a young man, who has consistently shot medium format film. With a proper plan and some cooperation from you lovely people, I feel as though we could bring something much greater to life. Perhaps a book featuring portraiture and opinions from those who remain connected to their ties with the Moriori. I’m just spitballing, but I would none-the-less like to find some medium where we could share compelling imagery and possibly short quotations about the people. I am after images with cultural significance and authentic emotion, distinctive to the land, but in no way staged or unrealistic.

    If anyone feels compelled by this message, I strongly-strongly encourage you to open up an email dialogue with me at or start the conversation down below in the comments section. I envision, if done well, a story that could be of interest to national geographic or the New York Times. Whatever those who contribute feel comfortable with, we can take a shot at.

    I sincerely hope to hear back from those contributing to the great discussion below, positive or negative reactions. Together let’s make something significant.

    Regards, and my greatest thank you.

  15. And what similar ‘cultural’ projects have you worked on so far Tyson? What have you done that would get the attention of Nat Geo or NY times? Perhaps this might just be yet another case of someone seeing an opportunity to make money off the intellectual property of Moriori?

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