|The Kaitu Kala Islands are located to the south of Kawau Island and north-east of Mahurangi Harbour. |
Via Land Information New Zealand - Crown Copyright Reserved.
- Motuketekete (Food Basket) Island
- Moturekareka (Pleasant) Island
- Motutara (Gull) Island
I first came across mention of Motuketekete Island on the very informative Timespanner website (great resource if you're interested in the history of Auckland). Turns out there was a bit of tension between Motuketekete and Kawau Island in the mid-1800s over the issue of copper mining. Kind of like when brothers and sisters fight. Copper was discovered on Kawau by accident when they were looking to extract manganese. Copper mining operations were established in 1844 and ran until 1852 with two rival companies working the same body of ore on Kawau Island. The two chaps who headed up the rival copper mining operation (Frederick Whittaker and Theophilus Heale) encountered quite a bit of hostility from the existing outfit on the island. They were told that their miners couldn't sleep on Kawau Island at night so they had to ferry them back and forth from Motuketekete Island (which they bought in 1850). Seem a bit churlish to me, but when money is involved then sometimes people aren't on their best behavior. At the height of the mining, there were over 300 folk living on Kawau with mining villages at Mansion House, Two House Bay, Sunny Bay, Schoolhouse Bay, Dispute Cove and Miners Bay.
Heale & Whittaker - courtesy of Timespanner
In an attempt to make it easier to ship the ore to the Northern Hemisphere, two copper smelting houses were built - one on Motuketekete and one on Kawau. Unfortunately, the copper ore became increasingly difficult to extract as they had to constantly pump out water from the mine workings. Eventually, the copper ore was all tapped out and the mining operations shut down. It must have been profitable when they were operating, however, as a report from the Southern Cross in 1852 reports that on Captain Heale's Island (or Motuketekete), "The puff puff of the engine of a smelting furnace apprised us that the hand of the diligent maketh rich." And it looks like Heale and Whittaker didn't do too badly out of their purchase of Motuketekete either. They originally bought the title for ₤59, or a pound per acre, and sold it in 1855 for ₤100. The island has since changed hands a few time and is now in private ownership.
You can find more information about Kawau Island and copper mining at the Department of Conservation's website. While you can't land on Motuketekete, you can check out the remains of the mining on Kawau Island - both in the main historic reserve and at the smaller Smelting House Historic Reserve on the north side of Bon Accord Harbour.
|1880 map of Keta Keta Island (now known as Motuketekete Island) from when it was sold for ₤140 to a Matakana farmer.|
From deed 64125, LINZ records, Crown Copyright. Courtesy of Timespanner.
|The Rewa today. Courtesy of Peter Tasker - check out his other great photos of the Hauraki Gulf here|
And, yes, I promised you gulls. If you go to the third Kaitu Kala island, you'll find plenty of gulls. It is called Motutara or Gull Island. The name kind of gives it away. You can find the remains of an old wharf on the island and see lots of white fronted terns (or kahawai) hanging about. Motutara was once quarried in the 1930s for construction in Auckland. Nowadays, it is a peaceful spot for a picnic on the sandy beach.
So there you go, there is far more to see in the area than just Kawau Island. Next time you're in the area, make time to stop and explore the Kaitu Kala islands.
If you're interested in other posts in the "Hauraki Gulf Cruising Notes" series, check out this page.
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!