Photo of Whenua Hou/Codfish Island on a stormy day.
Image: James Reardon | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Seven hundred years of history of one of Aotearoa’s most unique island landscapes have been brought together for the first time.

Date:  11 July 2019

Whenua Hou: A New Land. The story of Codfish Island tells the story of the natural and human history of Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, in a bid to preserve and share the story of this taonga.

Department of Conservation Murihiku Operations Manager Tony Preston says it was fantastic to finally see the story laid bare.

“Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, adjacent to Rakiura, is both a significant wildlife refuge and a tūrangwaewae of great importance to thousands of descendants of Māori women and their European sealer partners. Its rich and vast history needed to be celebrated.”

The book, written by renowned author Neville Peat tells the fascinating story of first contact, colonisation, sealing, missionaries, farming, nature conservation, modern archaeology and the island’s status as an ancestral homeland. It also shines a light on the first settlers of 700 years ago.

Whenua Hou Komiti chairman Tane Davis says the book is an important taonga chronicling a little-known part of New Zealand history.

“Whenua Hou is a vitally significant place to Ngai Tahu whanui. We connect to the Island on spiritual, physical, cultural, and whakapapa levels. Many Ngai Tahu whanau are descendants to Whenua Hou, the Island is recognised as a taonga to Ngai Tahu. The formation of the Whenua Hou Komiti, and the name Whenua Hou are the outcomes of the Ngai Tahu Settlement act 1998.

Author Neville Peat MNZM, has written extensively about New Zealand geography and the natural environment, including Rakiura Heritage: A Stewart Island History and Guide to Historic Sites and Stewart Island: The Last Refuge.

The book was jointly commissioned and published by the Whenua Hou Committee and Department of Conservation with funding from the Ngai Tahu Fund and Department of Conservation.

Background information

There will be a book launch at Te Rau Aroha Marae, Bluff on the afternoon of Friday 12 July.  Media are invited to attend.  Please contact media staff at the Department of Conservation for full details.

Book details

80 pages; colour illustrations
ISBN 978-1-98-851490-1
Published by: Department of Conservation in association with the Whenua Hou Committee.
Price: $25 (incl gst) plus post and packaging
Email Orders:
Or Phone: +64 3 234 8192 (Te Rūnanga o Ōraka Aparima office)
Orders will be processed once a week


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