True Tales Of Great Barrier Island


The Great Barrier Island History Research Group Inc., was first formed on 31 May, 2010. A little under seventeen months later and this book was launched on Labour weekend, 22nd October, 2011, at Claris. It is hoped that similar books will be published every few years to continue capturing the rich variety of stories from this island’s past.


Most of the stories came about as a result of a competition the society ran for six months until the end of April, 2011. Prizewinners, and those who were highly commended, are announced on the following page. Thank you to all those who entered, therefore making the book possible. Thank you also to the two judges, Robyn Joynes and John Hetet, and the designer of the cover, Brian Culy.


Great Barrier Island was an uninhabited island a mere 750 years or so ago, along with the rest of New Zealand. In fact, our country was, apart from Antarctica, the last major land mass anywhere to be discovered by man. This was a time when the world’s population totalled the equivalent of roughly the present population of the USA, or about 4% of the present population. Although it is easier to access the details of the more recent past, it should not be forgotten that perhaps 30 generations have come and gone over that time, and that is the total realm of our researches. It is a period during which extraordinary changes have occurred. One only has to reflect on the changes that have occurred during one’s own lifetime to appreciate the value of recording them so that future generations will have some knowledge of what has gone before. Technology has made that much easier.


No one group or individual has a monopoly on our history; it is for everyone to enquire into, research, recall,…. and pass on. The history society is the ideal vehicle to achieve that. Not only is it set up to publish books such as this, it has the facility to record oral histories, assist with members’ individual or group endeavours to research and write specific histories of any relevant subject, runs regular meetings and has a good website.


As the years pass, the stories contained within these pages will only become more compelling reading. How much more interesting and informative will it eventually become if similar publications are repeated every few years.


We hope you enjoy and learn from the following stories, and hope that it encourages you and others to both become members and participate in future projects.


*Don Armitage,
Co-ordinator, (2010– August, 2011), 

Great Barrier Island History Research Group Incorporated.

Committee Members Other existing and past committee members who have been instrumental in either or both running the society and getting this publication to print are: 

Karen Cook (Secretary)
Luke Rewa Davis
Wayne McVicar
*Fred Medland
Lynda Oxborough (Treasurer)
John Renneberg
Ted Scott
*John Scrimgeour
Margaret van Dooren 


*Three committee members have also supplied stories, but were excluded from being considered for prizes or commendations in the interests of being seen to be fair.


Purchase your copy