Pitt Island

Pitt Island

Pitt Island: see Butaritari.

Pitt Island or Rangiauria is the second largest island in the Chatham Islands, originally known as Rekohu. Territorially Rekohu, (see map)is a part of New Zealand, the mainland of which lies 800 kilometres to the west. Pitt Island's Kahuitara Point is the first populated location on earth to observe a sunrise in each new year, based on local time zone.

Pitt Island, lies some 20km to the southeast of its larger neighbour, Chatham Island, from which it is separated by Pitt Strait. It covers an area of 62 km², and has a population of about 45 people. Pitt Island is very hilly and its highest point (Waihere Head) rises to 241 metres above sea level.

Pitt Island, has undergone a few name changes over the years. The indigenous people, the Moriori, called it Rangiaotea (King 2000) The Europeans that arrived in 1791 called it Pitt's Island, and fifty years later this was simplified to 'Pitt' Island. The last group to bestow titles on Chatham Island lands were the invading Taranaki Maori who called Pitt Island 'Rangiauria'. That name is still in use today.

The island was first sighted by the crew of William R. Broughton's ship HMS Chatham in 1791. It was named for William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham.

The eastern-most house in the world is located on Pitt Island, at North Head and belongs to the Lanauze family. Over the years there have been many ships wrecked around both Pitt and Chatham Islands. The Glory, a small brigantine was wrecked in what became known as Glory Bay in 1827 The main sources of income for those people that live on Pitt Island are: Farming, Commercial fishing, and Tourism. There is a School, a wharf, a church and a landing strip for light planes on Pitt Island. Air Chathams provide the light plane service between the islands.

The department of Conservation are very active on Pitt Island and in conjunction with several landowners administer a number of covenanted areas and reserves. Historically, Moriori, the indigenous peoples of the Chatham Islands (Rekohu) first settled Rangiaotea (Pitt) which was also known as Rangihaute. Evidence of this settlement is available almost everywhere on the island with large quantities of artefacts becoming visible each new day. No remains of momori rakau are visible on the island, but there are records of them once being present (King 2000).


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