Jurisdiction Project

Chatham Islands

Chatham Islands are a group of 40 scattered islands located 768 kilometers south east of New Zealand.

Chatham Island is the largest of the group and has a high table plateau flanked by towering cliffs, extensive waterways, low peat lands, and long sandy beaches. Total Land Area: 97,000 hectares Chatham (Rekohu) 90,000 hectares Pitt (Rangiaoria) 6,326 hectares South East (Rainwater) 218 hectares Nature Reserve Mangere 113 hectares Nature Reserve Little Mangere 16.6 hectares privately owned The Sisters (Rangatathi) The Forty Fours (Motuhara) Star Keys (Motuhope) The Pyramid Exclusive Economic Zone: 500 square kilometers is the 12 mile limit directly around the islands, Chatham Islanders are negotiating a formula for deepwater quota, which may be a 50/50 split in the Maori Fisheries Bill.

This island is the first to greet the dawn as the world turns, 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand.

Latitude and Longitude:
Latitude: Latitude 44 South Longitude Longitude 178 East

Time Zone:
GMT +13

Total Land Area:


The islands are influenced by two major weather generators, El-Nino=s southern oscillation, and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. These weather systems create dominant south-west winds that residents call the ARoaring Forties@; however the climate is moderate with daily temperatures in the low 20's C in the summer and 5 to 8 C in the winter. Climate change is expected to bring an increase in extreme rainfalls and increased annual rainfall as well as slightly stronger winds.

Natural Resources:
The New Zealand Geo-preservation Inventory lists 31 sites of nationally important geological interest. There are 11 plant species, 16 birds, 1 reptile and over 50 invertebrate species endemic to these islands. There are considerable marine resources in the surrounding ocean including penguins, whales, seals, and sharks.


Total GDP:

Per Capita GDP:
2004 23,200.00 USD

% of GDP per Sector:
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
2004 4.6% 27.4% 68%

% of Population Employed by Sector
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
2001 27% 19% 54%

External Aid/Remittances:
Chatham Islands are a territory of New Zealand and have a constitutional relationship with the administration seat of government in Wellington, New Zealand. The Local Government Act guarantees Chatham Islands a subsidy from central government, financial assistance has also provided for capital expenditures on water and sewer projects. Significant road construction grants funded the largest single expenditure of council last year, 62% of their money being spent on land transport.

Growth in the New Zealand economy has been positive for the last six years. Significant capital expenditures in roads, sewerage treatment and drinking water treatment in the community in the last several years have increased economic growth and capacity.

Labour Force:
2001 370

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)
2001 6.6%

The Chatham Islands economy is very fragile. The islands depend on farming and fishing with a small amount of tourism. Much of the wealth derived from these pursuits goes offshore for the purchase manufactured of goods and services. There are 137 business=s registered on the Chatham Islands, the largest groups are agriculture, and fishing, and tourism. The largest business on the island is Chatham Island Enterprise Trust, this community owned business operates at a profit. Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust owns the airport, the seaport, the electric plant and distribution network, and has made $9M investments in fishery quotas which are leased back to islanders The total labor force in 2001 was 370 persons in 243 households, 75% of whom were working full time. There were 40 people involved in manufacturing on the island, 40 in transportation and storage, 35 in agriculture and fisheries, 30 in government administration, 25 in personal services, the balance of employees work in utilities, education, finance, health, accommodations and food services. Household income in Chatham Island is $39,983 compared to $43,682 for New Zealand.

Niche Industry:
A niche industry that continues to operate on Chatham Islands is fish processing, the economics of the fishing industry make it difficult to understand exactly why this is.

Ecotourism is a major component of the island economy. There are 16 species of birds native only to the islands, 29 species of flora that are unique to the islands. Accommodations are limited on the islands and must be confirmed before permission will be granted to visit. In 2002 there were 85 tourist beds on the islands. There is a golf course, a museum, Chatham Island Lodge, Dept of Conservation office. Employment in the industry from November to March reaches a peak of 30 FTE jobs.


Imports and Exports:

The main exports for the islands are fish, bales of wool, sheep and cattle. The main imports to the island are petroleum products, manufactured goods and consumer goods.

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Number of Airports:
Air service is maintained from Waitangi to Christchurch and Wellington on mainland New Zealand. Air Chatham operates three planes without subsidy and provides service 4 to 6 days per week.

Number of Main Ports:
There are two ports on the Chatham Islands, the main port is Waitangi, and the second access is at Flower Pot. Shipping links are from Timaru, Napier, and Auckland in New Zealand. Black Robin Freighters operates the shipping service to the Islands.



There is a limited system of roads on the main island, and no public transportation. In 2004 there were 6 car accidents in the community. The community is experiencing a significant investment in roads infrastructure in the present, over 60% of Chatham Island Council spending in 2005 was on road works. Significant expenditures are being made on road and bridge infrastructure in the community. In the last fiscal year 62% of Chatham Islands Council spending was on land transportation, 82% of households have access to a motor vehicle.

Water transportation is significant within Chatham Islands; the community council is responsible for maintaining navigation buoys for the local fishery and waterborne transportation.

Other Forms of Transportation:

Economic Zones:
Through the constitutional designation of Chatham Islands as a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand by the United Nations in 1946, Chatham Island has control over 12 nautical miles surrounding it. Because the islands represent an important component of New Zealand=s claim to a much larger part of the Antarctic Ocean, the responsibility for the larger economic zone is shared.

Energy Policy:
Chatham Island imported 2,500,000 liters of diesel fuel in 2002 and information for New Zealand would indicate that energy use is increasing. Natural gas made up 22% of total final consumer energy demand in New Zealand, 21% electricity, 18% petrol, 17% diesel, aviation fuel 7%, coal7%, fuel oil 4%. There are no natural gas facilities on the islands. New Zealand energy imports exceed exports by a ratio of 2 to 1, as country exports some coal and crude oil, and imports crude oil and petroleum products.

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)


Official Currency:
New Zealand Dollar

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions:
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions:
Number of Insurance Companies:

 Banking and Insurance regulation and markets are based on the mainland in Wellington. The community annual report states that housing mortgages were difficult to obtain from banks because of perceived lending risk in the community as a whole.

Financial Services:

Telephone communication is widespread, 92% of house holds have access to a telephone and 24% have access to the internet. There is no cell phone coverage on the island, nor is broad band internet available.

Public Ownership:
The local community council owns the airport, the electrical generation and distribution company, the water works, the sewage treatment facility and the forestry company.

Land Use:
The Chatham Islands have 41 separate nature reserves and 18 protective covenants on private land. Crown owned and protected land is 4% of total area. The budget for the Dept of Conservation on the Islands is $1.2 million. The two largest of the scattered islands around Chatham are Mangere and Rainwater. These two Crown-owned islands are designated Nature Reserves and are vital for the conservation of the Chatham Islands flora, fauna and ecosystems. Free of all introduced predators and pests, these are the last remaining refuges of Chatham endemic species. To ensure that the predator-free status of these islands is maintained, access to both Mangere and Rangatira is tightly-controlled. Access is by permit only and is generally restricted to those undertaking management activities. Mangere is now one of only two sites in the world where black robin are found. Chatham Islands snipe and parakeets are common. Forbes' parakeet is far rarer than the red-crowned parakeet, being found only on Mangere and Little Mangere. Sea birds, once totally dominant on the island, declined drastically during the farming era, but are making a comeback. Petrel and shearwater burrows are common in places, and the shore platforms are home to Chatham Island oystercatchers. New Zealand shore plover have recently been translocated from Rangatira. Moriori Reserves 2002, Taia, a property on the east coast of Rekohu with extensive wetlands and cultural significance for the people was purchased by the Crown as a reserve. It is now being jointly managed by Moriori and the Crown. Private land ownership is common, 60% of the population own their own home.

Farming has been the most important industry in Chatham Island, only a decade ago, it represented over 25% of economic activity. The cattle and sheep farming business has declined but still represent $9.6 M per year gross farm receipts for the islands in 2002. The sheep population in 2002 was 80,000 head, down from a high of 160,000 in 1989. An examination of shipping from the island reveals an annual average export of 42,000 sheep, 3,300 cattle and 1,780 bales of wool.

Marine Activity:

Sealing was the original industry along with whaling since the early 1800's. There is an extensive marine activity within the 12 mile territorial limit of Chatham Islands, primarily a small boat fishery with the potential for aquaculture. Operational fishers are mainly contract catchers with quota largely owned by processors, institutions and investors based off island.

Marine Life:
Rock Lobster When the Moriori settled 800 - 1200 years ago, there were 9 species of fresh water fish and 17 species of marine mammals living on the island. The ocean that surrounds these islands is rich in marine life and supports nationally significant populations of whales, dolphins and seals--and also internationally-significant populations of sea birds.

Critical Issues:
Natural Heritage preservation and invasive species present one set of critical issues on Chatham Islands. There are 11 plant species, 16 birds, 1 reptile and over 50 invertebrate species endemic to these islands. Indigenous native land claims and settlements present another set of critical issues.


Waitangi is the largest town and is the administrative centre.

Political System:
Chatham Islands have a unique situation in the New Zealand system of governance, the Chatham Island Council Act of 1995 provides for the differences between the island and the New Zealand mainland providing for responsibilities beyond what it=s population and taxation base would warrant. The isolation of the island and the small tax base has led to the designation of Unitary Council, having powers of both a Regional Council and a Territorial Authority. The Local Government Act (2000) is more recent governing legislation that gives Council more autonomy and authority. The council is authorized to collect dues from air and sea access users, land taxes based on capital value, and water, sewerage, and waste management charges. The dues collected from sea and air access users is essentially a customs duty which has arguable benefits to the local economy, the council is continuing to look for ways to abolish “Council Dues”. Jurisdictional resources are being expanded with the negotiation of deep water rights to the ocean resources surrounding Chatham Islands. Jurisdictional resources will expand with the involvement of Maori in the decision making process, the Hoketehi Moriori Trust and two other Maori indigenous groups are working towards more formal relations with Council. Council has authority over navigation and safety of its waterways, over 360 kilometers of coastline and a 12 nautical mile territorial limit. Council maintains navigational buoys and owns Owenga Wharf. Council also is responsible for waste management and operates three dumps in the community. Council does not have authority over but works in co-operation with central New Zealand agencies on bio-security, resource management and corporate support. In the past, central government services were delivered to Chatham Islands by a Resident Magistrate and later, a Resident Commissioner, responsible to the Department of Island Territories. In 1922 they achieved representation in the New Zealand Parliament, and as such are members of a parliamentary democracy. Chatham Islands have what is called a Unitary Council. Council elected by the Islanders, 9 members in all, and is responsible for the local airport authority, electricity and forestry, and water utilities.

Political Parties:
By the end of 1991, Moriori political organisation had split into two groups. After years of difficulties, but also many legal and political accomplishments, the two groups finally achieved unity in 2001, forming the Hokotehi Moriori Trust. The trust aims to seek redress for past injustices, and to revive the language, customs, and traditions of the Moriori ancestors. It also aims to build a sustainable economic future for the Chatham Islands, and to broadcast a message of tolerance and peace to the world.

Important Legislation:
The most important legislation is the Local Government Act (2002) giving local council the authority and to gather funds on the Island from rates, dues and targeted charges along with a guaranteed annual New Zealand grant, and road construction financial assistance. The territory was annexed to the British Crown and brought within the boundaries of New Zealand in 1842. Treaty of Waitangi, negotiations and agreement surrounding native land and sea claims.

Principal Taxes:
The principal source of revenue for Chatham Islands Council is “Council Dues”, dues collected on imports and exports.

Associated Power:
New Zealand

Chatham Islanders are citizens of New Zealand



Male Female Total 1500 first settlement 1835 2,000 estimate 1991 390 339 729 1996 414 318 732 2001 402 315 720 2004 750 The main settlements are Waitangi, Waitangi West, and Owenga, Kaingaroa, Te One, Port Hutt, and Pitt Island.

Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population

Age of Population: The Mäori population is much younger than the total population. The median age of the Mäori ethnic group was 22.7 years of age at 30 June 2005, 12.8 years younger than that of the total population. 0 - 14 15 - 24 25 - 49 50 - 64 65 and up Chatham Islands 1991 28% 16% 42% 9% 5% 1996 26% 13% 43% 13% 5% 2001 25% 11% 42% 16% 6% New Zealand 2005 21.4% 15 to 64 years total is 66.9% 11.6%

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up
1991 28 16 42 9 5
1996 26 13 43 13 5
2001 25 11 42 16 6


Since the original settlement of the island, there have been influxes of other Maori as well as white settlers from the mainland

Crude Birth Rate:
2005 13.9%

Life Expedctancy:
Maori ethnic group statistics would indicate life expectancy at birth is 73.2 years for women and 69 years for men. New Zealand life expectancy at birth is 79 years, 81.1 for women and 76.3 for men. The total fertility rate for the Mäori ethnic group in the December 2004 year was 2.6 births per woman, well above replacement level (2.1 births per woman). Annual fertility rates are not available for any other ethnic groups because annual population estimates are not calculated. However, fertility rates for the four major ethnic groups have been calculated for the three-year period centered on the 2001 Census. These give total fertility rates for the Pacific, Mäori, European and Asian ethnic groups of 2.9, 2.6, 1.8 and 1.7 births per woman, respectively. New Zealand crude birth rate is 13.9 per 1000 in 2005, the total fertility rate is 2.01, historically this rate has moved from 3.1 in 1921 to 4.3 in 1961 and down to 2.01 now. For the Mäori population, the crude death rate was 4.3 deaths per 1,000 in 2004. However, the crude death rate is influenced by the age structure of the population being measured and does not give an accurate comparison of the mortality experience between populations or overtime. When the differences in population composition are taken into account by standardizing for age, the standardized Mäori death rate is 7.6 per 1,000 and is higher than the standardized death rate of the total population which is 4.5 per 1,000.

Crude Death Rate:
2004 4.5%

Maoru European 1991 population 333 396 1996 387 345 2001 366 354 Chatham Islanders are of European descent, descendants of the original settlers the Moriori people, and the Maori people.

Class Division:
Class divisions are based on ethnic lines, European, Maori, and Moriori.

There are two official languages on Chatham Islands, English and Maori

The dominant religion is Christian, with 459 out of 732 residents claiming affiliation to one church or another in 1996 Chatham Islands New Zealand 2004 Anglican 186 25% 14.9% Roman Catholic 192 26% 12.4% Presbyterian 21 3% 10.9% Methodist 6 2.9% Later Day Saints 3 Ratana 24 3% Pentecostal 6 1.7% Other Christian 21 3% 9.4% No Religion 138 19% 26%

 Census data reveals that 38% of the Chatham Island people have had no schooling, 38% have been to school and 24% have post secondary educations. The ability to read and write in New Zealand is wide spread, one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Chatham Islands Council has a priority of establishing a public library in the future.

Education System:
There are a total of four schools on the island, a preschool in Te One, Te One Public School, Pitt Island Public School, and Kaingaroa Public School.

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Total Primary Schools  
First Level:
Second Level:
Third Level:
Total Secondary Schools:
Total Professional Schools


Number of Schools per Island:


Students Enrolled:


Medical Services:
Medical services are provided by Chatham Island Health Centre and Chatham Island Maori Community Health.


 This group of islands was settled by migrating Polynesian immigrants, Moriori, sometime after 800 AD. The original inhabitants were overrun by a group of 900 Maori from New Zealand in the 1830’s, enslaved for at least 30 years, and disenfranchised of their land for over 100 years. It is currently thought that early Polynesian (Moriori) settlers from New Zealand arrived between 800 and 1200 AD; they were isolated and had developed their own distinctive culture. Islanders were originally members of nine tribes; it was an egalitarian society where chiefs were chosen for their abilities in fishing or catching birds, rather than their heredity. They developed a canoe style, a wash-through raft which could navigate on the open sea=s, the largest of which was 12 meters long. In the 1830’s a group of two tribes of Maaori arrived from New Zealand, some 900 persons in total. These new settlers turned on their Island hosts, slaughtering and enslaving the inhabitants of the Islands, records left by Moriori Elders show that over 1,500 Moriori died between 1835 and 1863, when they were released from slavery. The last known full-blooded Moriori (Tommy Solomon) died in 1933. First contact with Europeans was in 1791 when a British ship, the Chatham, was blown off course to the Island. The British annexed the Chatham Islands in 1842, and did eventually arrange for the release of the enslaved islanders in 1863, however they decided that the invading Maori were the rightful owners of the island and this judgment stood against the Moriori for 110 years, not only had the original settlers been enslaved, but title to their land was also confiscated. The Waitangi Tribunal of 2001 is dealing with exact implications of the changes in land ownership that this will bring about. The Waitangi Tribunal published its report Rekohu: A Report on Moriori and Ngati Mutunga Claims in the Chatham Islands in 2001. The Tribunal report found Moriori were entitled, as native people of New Zealand, to make claims under the Treaty. These negotiations will give the Crown the opportunity to redress its role in the harm suffered by Moriori since 1842, when the Chathams first became part of New Zealand.


Recent Significant Events:
Since 1988 descendants of the Moriori people began their formal claim to be the original inhabitants of the Islands, and to seek compensation for their loss. Proceedings have resulted in a reserve having been purchased by the New Zealand government for the descendants of the Moriori and the introduction of The Local Government Act of 2002 is the most significant event in recent history, establishing increasing autonomy for the Chatham Island District.

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:


Chatham Islands Council Annual Report 2005 http://www.cic.govt.nz/documents.htm Chatham Island Economic Review 2002 Taylor Barnes and Associates Government of New Zealand Statistics New Zealand 2001 Census Government of New Zealand Department of Environment Chatham Islands Climate Change Government of New Zealand Dept. Of Conservation Chatham Island Conservation Board 2004 Annual Report Government of New Zealand Ministry of Fish Government of New Zealand Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand www.teara.govt.nz Quentin-Baxter, Alison. The Problem of Islands, 1995. Chatham Island Conference AIsland Development and its Future@


Useful Links:

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