World War II gun emplacement on the summit of Matiu/Somes Island
Image: Phillip Capper | Creative Commons

Introduction

It may be a small island but its place in New Zealand’s history is huge. Explore Matiu/Somes to learn its stories and uncover its secrets.

For such a small island, Matiu/Somes has a big history!

The island was given its Maori name by Kupe 1000 years ago. After European settlement the island was named after the Deputy Governor of the New Zealand Company, Joseph Somes. In 1997, in recognition of its bicultural heritage, the Geographic Board assigned the island its current name of Matiu-Somes Island.

Its harbour location made it an ideal location for New Zealand’s first inner harbour lighthouse, a human quarantine station, an internment camp, military defence position, and an animal quarantine station.  

Open to the public since 1995, the shroud of secrecy has been lifted from the island and its stories and relics of old are waiting to be explored.

So pack a picnic and jump on the ferry. Enjoy the fantastic 360º views of the harbour while interacting with some of New Zealand’s rarer native species. Explore remnants from both world wars, historic quarantine buildings, the lighthouse, artefacts from the island's past, and pause at the monument to those who died while confined on the island.



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