About the Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands form an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean about 800 kilometres (500 mi) east of the South Island of New Zealand. It consists of about ten islands within a 40-kilometre (25 mi) radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Some of these islands, once cleared for farming, are now preserved as nature reserves to conserve their flora and fauna. The resident population is 600 (as of 2013). The islands' economy is largely dependent on conservation, tourism, farming and fishing.
The archipelago is called Rēkohu ("Misty Sun") in the indigenous Moriori language, and Wharekauri in Māori. The Moriori are the indigenous people of the Chatham Islands, and members of the Māori Ngāti Mutunga tribe have also settled on the island. It has officially been part of New Zealand since 1842 and includes the country's easternmost point, the Forty-Fours.
Local administration of the Chatham Islands is provided by the Chatham Islands Council, whose powers are similar to other unitary authorities. It is not part of any region.
The islands are roughly 840 kilometres (520 mi) east of Christchurch, New Zealand. The nearest mainland New Zealand point to the Chatham Islands is Cape Turnagain, in the North Island at a distance of 650 kilometres (400 mi). The nearest mainland city to the islands is Hastings, New Zealand, located 697 kilometres (430 mi) to the North-West. The two largest islands, Chatham Island and Pitt Island, constitute most of the total area of 966 square kilometres (373 sq mi), with a dozen scattered islets covering the rest.
The islands sit on the Chatham Rise, a large, relatively shallowly submerged (no more than 1,000 metres or 3,281 feet deep at any point) part of the Zealandia continent that stretches east from near the South Island. The Chatham Islands, which emerged only within the last four million years, are the only part of the Chatham Rise showing above sea level.
The islands are hilly with coasts being a varied mixture including cliffs and dunes, beaches, and lagoons. Pitt is more rugged than Chatham, although the highest point (299 metres or 981 feet) is on a plateau near the southernmost point of the main island, which is dotted with numerous lakes and lagoons, flowing mainly from the island's nearby second highest point, Maungatere Hill, at 294 metres. Notable are the large Te Whanga Lagoon, and Huro and Rangitahi. Chatham has a number of streams, including Te Awainanga and Tuku.
Chatham and Pitt are the only inhabited islands, with the remaining smaller islands being conservation reserves with restricted or prohibited access. The livelihoods of the inhabitants depend on agriculture, with the island being an exporter of coldwater crayfish, and increasing tourism.
Chatham Islands have an oceanic climate characterised by a narrow temperature range and relatively frequent rainfall. Its isolated position far from any sizeable landmass renders the record temperature for main settlement Waitangi to be just 23.8 °C (74.8 °F). The climate is cool, wet and windy, with average high temperatures between 15 and 20 °C (59 and 68 °F) in summer, and between 5 and 10 °C (41 and 50 °F) in July, the Southern Hemisphere winter. Snow is extremely rare, being recorded near sea level in July 2015 after several decades.