Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand and is located about 17.7 km (about 35 minutes by ferry) from Auckland. [http://www.waihekenz.com/information.html Waiheke Island Information] (from the official Waiheke website of Tourism Auckland)] The second-largest (after Great Barrier Island) of all the gulf islands, is also the most populated and the most accessible due to regular ferry and air services. Waiheke is the third most populated island in New Zealand, after the North and South Islands.



The island is 19.3 km long from west to east and varies in width from 0.64 km to 9.65 km, with an area of 92 km². The coastline is 133.5 km including 40 km of beaches. The port of Matiatia at the western end of the island is 17.7 km from Auckland and the eastern end is 21.4 km from Coromandel. It is very hilly with few flat areas, the highest point being Maunganui at 231 m. [ [http://www.craigpotton.co.nz/Products/published/Maps/maps/waihekeadjacentislands Waiheke & adjacent islands] (map information from the DOC, via Craig Potton Publishing website)] The climate is slightly warmer than Auckland with less humidity and rain and more sunshine hours.


Waiheke has a number of locations of interest to geologists, namely an argillite outcrop in Omiha Bay and a chert stack at the end of Pohutukawa Point, the latter considered as "one of the best exposures of folded chert in Auckland City". [ [http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/documents/hgi/docs/hgiApp03.pdf Appendix 3 - Character statements for conservation areas] (from the Auckland City District Plan - Hauraki Gulf Islands Section - Proposed 2006. Accessed 2008-02-12.)]



Waiheke has a usually resident population of 7,689 people (2006 Census) [http://www.stats.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/DE65013E-546B-4354-A7A1-1497D8155FF9/0/AucklandCity.xls Area Unit populations in Auckland City] , 2006 Census, Statistics New Zealand.] with most of the population living close to the western end of the island, [http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/page.aspx?id=34076 Stony Batter Historic Reserve, Waiheke Island] (from the Department of Conservation website)] or near the isthmus between Huruhi Bay and Oneroa Bay which, at its narrowest, is only 600 metres wide. The settlements of Oneroa and Blackpool are the furthest west, followed by Palm Beach, Surfdale, and Ostend. Further east lies Onetangi, which is located on the northern coast on the wide Onetangi Bay. To the south of this on the opposing coast is Whakanewha Regional Park, Whakanewha and Omiha, or Rocky Bay. Much of the eastern half of the island is privately owned farmland and vineyards.

Waiheke Island is a popular holiday spot, and during the main Summer season, especially around Christmas and Easter, the population on the island increases substantially due to the number of holiday homes being rented out, corporate functions and dance parties at vineyards and restaurants, the Wine Festival and the Jazz Festival and weekend trippers from around the country and the world. It is safe to say the population increases significantly, rents go up, almost all homes and baches are full and a festive atmosphere exists.

ocial composition

Waiheke Island has a higher proportion of 'Europeans' (92.8%) compared to 65.7% for Auckland City and 80.1% for New Zealand as a whole (2001 Census). The proportion of Pacific Islanders and Asians is thus also much lower than in the rest of the city. [http://www2.stats.govt.nz/domino/external/web/commprofiles.nsf/printing/11C35B3EB440E5CDCC256D2B0073C36A Waiheke Island Community Profile] (from the 2001 New Zealand Census results)]

Socially the island is highly diverse, with the creative sector, such as artists, musicians, scientists, writers and poets, actors and eccentrics strongly represented. Around 1,000 people commute daily to Auckland for work as the career opportunities are limited on the island. The main employment sectors are horticulture (wine, olives and some livestock), tourism, construction, food services, retail and real estate.Fact|date=September 2007 Gentrification and land speculation is however is having an impact, with high rates and mortgage interest rates forcing some people on fixed incomes to relocate off the island. [" [http://www.waihekegulfnews.co.nz/from-the-archives/seniors-advocate-rate-revolt-island-wide-and-b.html Seniors advocate rate revolt island-wide and beyond] " - "Waiheke Gulf News", May 2006] New Zealand council rates are based on land and building valuations, which take into account potential value for redevelopment even if the owners live on the property and have no intention to sell or redevelop. [" [http://www.waihekegulfnews.co.nz/from-the-archives/board-reiterates-valuation-concerns.html Board reiterates valuation concerns Board reiterates valuation concerns] " - "Waiheke Gulf News", March 2006]

The income distribution at the time of the 2001 Census was found to show a higher proportion of lower income groups and a lower proportion of higher income groups, compared to the whole of Auckland City. This is partially due to a higher number of pensioners and single parent families who are usually on fixed incomes and poorer. In 2001, the median income for those older than 15 was $15,600 compared to $23,500 in 2006. Waiheke is now edging towards the national median of $24,400, with the median income having increased 51 per cent over five years. The increase in wealth on Waiheke is also reflected in the number of families earning more than $100,000 per year, which has more than doubled since 2001. [" [http://www.waihekegulfnews.co.nz/other-news/editorial-better-educated-and-better-off.html Editorial: Better educated and better off] " - "Waiheke Gulf News", Thursday 5 July 2007]

Māori relations

Race relations are supportive, even for New Zealand standards. The local marae was not ancestral Māori land held in Māori title but belonged to the Waiheke County Council. Its citizens, both Pākehā and Māori, got together, arranged for a long-term lease of council owned land, and built the marae. Also one of the earliest Māori land claims was driven by Waiheke citizens, who at the time did not know who the Tangata Whenua Māori were for the island. A detailed narrative of this history is available on the Waitangi Tribunal website in PDF form. [ [http://www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz/reports/downloadpdf.asp?ReportID={6E18D794-ADD1-4EAC-88D7-0C4BDBAC08A3} Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Waiheke Island Claim] (from the Waitangi Tribunal website. Accessed 2008-08-22.)]

Government and infrastructure

Waiheke Island is part of the territorial authority of Auckland City. From 1970 until its amalgamation with Auckland City in 1989, it was administered by the Waiheke County Council. It now has a locally elected community board with limited, mainly representational powers, in line with other neighbourhoods in Auckland City. There is one member on the City Council representing all the inhabited Hauraki Gulf Islands, i.e. Waiheke, Great Barrier and Rakino.

The island has less infrastructure than mainland Auckland City. The roads are mainly narrow and in many places unsealed and unlit, especially on the eastern half of the island. The Waiheke Bus Company (owned by Fullers / Stagecoach / Infratil) services most inhabited parts of the island, linking to the ferry sailings from Matiatia.

Each house must maintain its own water supply, most collecting rainwater in cisterns, and must install a septic tank and septic field to handle sewerage. This is a requirement in every building consent. [ [http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/documents/bylaw/part29.asp Waiheke Island Bylaw: Part 29 - Waiheke Wastewater] (from the Auckland City Council website)]

The community established a charitable trust which bid on the City's contract for solid waste disposal. After winning the bid, it was implemented with such success that the recycling centre soon had to be expanded to handle the volumes. [ [http://www.wrt.org.nz/wrt/about%20us.htm About the Trust] (from the Waste Resource Trust Waiheke website. Retrieved 2007-08-10.)]

The island has a lively press, with three weekly newspapers vying for attention: the long-established "Waiheke Gulf News", the "Waiheke Week" and the "Waiheke Marketplace". A community radio station, Waiheke Radio is now broadcasting on 88.3 FM and 107.4 FM, since Beach FM lost its licence in a commercial bid in 2008.

There is a privately operated airport, Waiheke Island Aerodrome, near Onetangi Bay.

ignificant events

tony Batter WWII fortifications

During World War II, three gun emplacements were built on the eastern edge of Waiheke to protect Allied shipping in Waitemata Harbour, in the fear that Japanese ships might reach all the way to New Zealand. This mirrored developments at North Head and Rangitoto Island. The guns were never fired in anger. The empty emplacements and the extensive tunnels below them can now be visited (on those days when a volunteer organisation opens them to public access).

Amalgamation with Auckland City

In 1989, the former Waiheke County Council was forcibly amalgamated with Auckland City Council as part of Local Government restructuring of that year. Pundits predicted a stormy relationship.

In 1990 the Waiheke Community Board formally requested the right to deamalgamate from the City. A 'Deamalgamation Committee' was established by Council to facilitate the Board's wish. However, this proved not to be to the liking of most of the new Auckland citizenry. In 1991, the city responded to a campaign run by a pro-union group, the Waiheke Island Residents & Ratepayers Association (Inc) by holding a democratic referendum. The de-amalgamation proposal sponsored by the Community Board was defeated.Fact|date=May 2007

The subject of amalgamation is still a hot topic on the island. In 2008, the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance received 3,537 submissions, 615 of which were made by Waihekeans, over 1/6th of all submissions. [" [http://www.waihekegulfnews.co.nz/other-news/royal-commission-allocates-one-day-to-waiheke.html Royal Commission allocates one day to Waiheke] " - "Waiheke Gulf News", Thursday, 05 June 2008.)] A public meeting of 150 residents on 29 March 2008 found a majority in favour of breaking away from Auckland City. [" [http://www.waihekegulfnews.co.nz/other-news/a-show-of-hands-says-it-all.html A show of hands says it all] " - "Waiheke Gulf News", Thursday, 03 April 2008)]

Nuclear and GE free zone

Waiheke Island was the first community in New Zealand to vote for a nuclear free zone and this action is said to have contributed to the national decision to become nuclear-free under David Lange's government. This assertion was made by a prior community board member, and requires further confirmation.

In 1999 Waiheke's community board voted Waiheke as a 'genetic engineering free zone', [cite web|url=http://ge-free.co.nz/PDF/December1999newsletter.pdf|title=GE Free NZ Newsletter, December 1999 - Rage Inc.|pages=Page 2] but this is a matter of principle rather than fact, as only national government controls exist over genetically engineered foods and grains.

Matiatia redevelopment

The Gateway to Waiheke Island where the primary pedestrian ferry lands over 1 million passengers per year is a valley and harbour called Matiatia. In 2000 it was purchased by three investors in a company called Waitemata Infrastructure Ltd (WIL). In 2002 WIL proposed to change the Operative District Plan rules for their land to build a major shopping and hotel complex with 29,000 m² of gross floor area on buildable land of approximately 3 hectares. This united the residents of the island in opposition. Over 1,500 adult residents of the island (out of perhaps 3,000) joined together in an incorporated society, the Community and People of Waiheke Island (CAPOW), [ [http://www.capow.info Community and People of Waiheke Island] (the organisation's official website)] to oppose the private plan change in court.

In 2004, they won an interlocutory judgement in which the environment court ruled that Auckland City Council had erred in the rules, and the current rules limited controlled development to 5,000 m² in what was called the Visitor Facility Precinct. In 2005, CAPOW won an interim judgement by the court which reduced the proposed redevelopment to about 1/3rd of what the investors had originally sought.Fact|date=February 2008

This set the stage for confidential negotiations between Auckland's mayor Dick Hubbard and the investors, who on 31 August 2005 (now known as 'Matiatia Day' on the island) sold 100% of the stock in WIL to the city for $12.5 million. The unanimous vote on 30 June 2005 of the City Council to approve the purchase was said to have come about because of the unity of the people of Waiheke Island. The court case finally was concluded with permitted development set at 10,000 m2 of mixed use gross floor development. The Court also found Auckland City Council and WIL liable for costs in relationship to the interlocutory judgement. Since WIL was now owned by Council, it had to write a cheque for to CAPOW for $18,000, representing 75% of CAPOW's costs on that matter. This final cheque allowed CAPOW to pay all its debts and balance its books.

The Council organised a design competition in 2006 to find a suitable development plan and project for the Matiatia gateway. The competition winner's design (scheme 201) is available for comment on the Council website. [ [http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/matiatia Matiatia land development] (from the Auckland City Council website)] It has already attracted much criticism for the lack of car parking close to the ferry terminal, the transport hub function used by all islanders regularly and almost daily by around 850 commuters to Auckland. [ [http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/members/committeemeetings/urban/a20070301.asp 4.1 Parking Near Ferry Terminal At Matiatia] (minutes of the Urban Strategy and Governance Committee of Thursday 1 March 2007, Auckland City Council website)]

Foot and mouth disease

In May 2005, in a suspected capping stunt, a letter was sent to the New Zealand Prime Minister claiming that foot and mouth disease had been released on Waiheke Island and would be released elsewhere unless money was paid and tax reforms made. A full agricultural exotic disease response was initiated. No livestock were allowed to enter or leave the island. Stock on Waiheke Island was tested every 48 hours for symptoms of the virus, which would devastate New Zealand's agricultural exports. [cite news|url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10124792|title=Ministry believes Waiheke foot & mouth threat a hoax|date=May 10 2005|publisher=New Zealand Herald] After three weeks of testing, no infected animals were detected and the response staff were stood down. [cite news|url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/location/story.cfm?l_id=364&ObjectID=10126976|title=Last vets to leave Waiheke after foot and mouth hoax|date=May 23 2005|publisher=New Zealand Herald]


Waiheke's climate has proven to be well suited to growing Bordeaux wine-type grapes, though some Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varieties are also considered to be good. The local wines are relatively pricey due to the limited size of many vineyards. [ [http://www.wineoftheweek.com/guest/0505ruth.html From Santa Cruz to Waiheke] (from 'wineoftheweek.com' website, Saturday 7 May 2005. Accessed 2008-02-12.)]


External links

* [http://www.arc.govt.nz/albany/main/parks/our-parks/parks-in-the-region/whakanewha/ Whakanewha Regional Park] (a nature reserve, from the DOC website)
* [http://www.waihekepedia.com Waihekepedia] (Community wiki for Waiheke)

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