Upcoming Dates of Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
2022: Monday 28th November
2023: Monday 27th November
2024: Monday 2nd December
The Province of Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands (Rēkohu) are located approximately 860 kilometres east of New Zealand. There are two main islands, Chatham Island and Pitt Island.
Chatham Island is a two-hour flight from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch airports with the domestic airline Air Chathams.
The Anniversary Date
The Chatham Islands Anniversary Day is the closest Monday to 29th November. With such a small population on the Islands, the day is kept relatively low-key.
On November 29, 1791, William Broughton of the HMS Chatham made the discovery of the Chatham Islands. He named the islands after the ship he arrived on and announced that his new find belonged to the British Empire.
It wasn’t until 1842 that the islands became part of New Zealand.
Who lives on the islands?
About 600 people live on Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Almost 200 live in the largest settlement, Waitangi. There is a thriving business community here, but it is not your ordinary New Zealand small town.
Waitangi is on the west coast at the southern end of Petre Bay.
Around 24% of the population are under 15 years of age and around 12% are over 65. With such a low number of people, there is no unemployment here.
The majority of the longer-term population’s ancestry here is Moriori, Maori, European, or a combination of these.
The Moriori are the true indigenous people of the Chatham Islands.
After the arrival of HMS Chatham in 1791, more ships came here and with these were the Maori and European settlers from the New Zealand mainland. Initially, the new settlers lived alongside the Moriori.
It was not until 1835 that two Maori tribes came from the New Zealand mainland in search of new territories and resources. This was when the battles took place.
With the Moriori’s unique culture being based on law and peace (they called this Nunuku’s Law), they suffered with many being killed or enslaved by the Maori. Once the New Zealand government stepped in, the battles ceased.
The Moriori of Chatham Island are engaged in commercial fishing, tourism, and other endeavours, including bringing their native language back to life.
Being relatively tiny islands in a huge ocean, the weather on the Chatham Islands is constantly changing and unpredictable. The saying ‘four seasons in one day,’ is true to life here.
Despite, however, being exposed, the weather is generally temperate – ranging from 24 degrees Celsius in the summer down to 6 degrees in the winter.
Surrounded by the ocean, it is not hard to believe that seafood is plentiful here. The Chatham Islands are renowned for their sustainable seafood industry.
Delicacies such as Crayfish, Paua, Kina, Blue Cod and Hapuka, are abundant here and are fished for or caught with their sustainability and conservation in mind.