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The Chatham Islands were the very last islands to be settled by people in the Pacific. The residents today are descended from three cultural groups — Moriori, Maori and European. Their distinctive culture is reflected in the many significant archaeological and historic sites. There are various wahi tapu and burial sites as well as remnants of European settlement relating to whaling and farming. The original inhabitants, Te Imi Moriori, went there about the time that the ancestors of todays Maori arrived in New Zealand. Moriori lived on Rekohu, misty skies, completely undisturbed for hundreds of years, until the accidental re-discovery by a wayward British warship in 1791. That chance discovery ended with one Moriori shot dead, for protecting his fishing nets from a prying British sailor. The Moriori were unique as a Polynesian society because of their religious adoption of their culture of peace. This belief is known as "Nunuku's Law" after the Chief who proclaimed an end to bloodshed hundreds of years ago.
Some 40 years after the discovery New Zealand Maori invaded the Chathams, killing and enslaving all Moriori. Less than 100 years later, in 1933, the last known "full-blooded" Moriori, Tame Horomona Rehe, Tommy Solomon, died.
Today, his descendants and those of other Moriori karapuna, live on, and the establishment of Kopinga Marae, opened in 2005 by the Prime Minister and attended by the Maori Queen, is testament to this forgotten, and often hidden history.
Rekohu Experience is an arm of Hokotehi Moriori Trust, administering Chatham Lodge and a range of educational activities. They can arrange guided wildlife tours of most areas and are the only commercial operator that has the cultural authority to operate on Rekohu and to tell the stories of these islands.
New Zealand Birds would be greatful to birders willing to review any of our birding pages or contribute a trip report for inclusion on these pages.
All published contributions will be acknowledged on the appropriate birding page and the contributor will receive a copy of New Zealand Birds birdsong CD. Contact the web diva:Narena Olliver,