Some of the earliest baches in the Hauraki Gulf were constructed on the lava-strewn shores of Rangitoto Island. The island was purchased from Ngāti Paoa in 1854 primarily as a source of stone for the construction of Auckland. In 1890 the island was declared a recreational reserve. The Rangitoto Island Domain Board took over administration of the island and pursued a policy of opening up the island for pubic enjoyment. This involved the construction of a wharf on the southern side (Rangitoto Wharf) and the development of a track to the summit.
In 1911 the Domain Board started to lease out sites for campers in order to raise funds to cover the costs of administering the island. Eventually baches were built on the sites, with over 140 baches being built at 3 locations; adjacent to the Rangitoto Wharf, in Islington Bay and in McKenzie Bay near the Rangitoto Light. Vibrant holiday communities developed around the baches with families spending the entire summer school holidays there.
Isobel Conning (nee Simmons) remembers wonderful times at her family bach in Islington Bay before World War Two. “At night the bay would be full of yachts and launches. They were so numerous that you could almost walk across the bay on boats. Then someone, on one of the boats, would start up with a mouth organ. Someone else, in another boat, would follow. The crews would start singing and then people on the shore would join in.”
“One Islington Bay bach owner, Jock Loch, was noted for his unusual fishing methods. Wanting to fish from the comfort of his verandah he rigged up a line around a couple of pulleys, with one end attached to the outside of his house, and the other anchored in the sea. After baiting up his hooks, he would wind them down into the tide, tying a bell onto the rope, so that he would be alerted if there was a bite. He would then wind the line back up to his house, with the fish attached.”
By the 1920s there was disquiet about the impact of the baches on the island’s unique ecology. By 1937 a policy of gradually removing the baches had been adopted with owners being given 20 years to vacate and remove the structures. In 1957, when the 20 year time period had expired, there was a reprieve when the remaining bach owners were granted a new lease for 33 years or the lifetime of the current owner. As the owners gradually reached the end of their lives, the baches started disappearing from the landscape.
Currently some 34 baches remain on Rangitoto Island. Rather than being seen as a blot on the landscape their historical and cultural value has now been recognised. But their future is still uncertain.
Read a Dialogue piece in today’s NZ Herald by Sue, Rod and Zoe Neureuter, the family who acts as guardians of the Noises Islands. Sue Neureuter’s personal Story of the Gulf features in The Story of the Hauraki Gulf.
“Creating a fishing park in a region in such alarming decline brings division where the opposite is required write Sue, Rod and Zoe Neureuter.”
Longlining was introduced into the Hauraki Gulf as a method of commercial fishing in 1912. It replaced the use of single baited hooks and immediately increased catches. Longling involves setting a main line, with numerous branches lines or snoods connected to it, each containing a baited hook. Each line can hold thousands of hooks. The method was quickly adopted and is still widely used in the Hauraki Gulf. It is a labour intensive, hands-on commercial fishing method, which is targeted and can produce very high quality fish.
In the early 1980s a lucrative market for fresh ‘iki jime’ snapper opened up in Japan. This involved spiking the fish in the brain after capture to kill it instantly, and then putting the fish into an ice slurry to rapidly cool its temperature. This resulted in a high quality fish which fetched premium prices. Longline fishermen in the Gulf rapidly adopted the new methods, initially pioneered by Leigh Fisheries.
The fish are transported back to port on the same day, sent to the factory for packing and then quickly flown out to high value markets around the world including Australia, the USA and Europe.
“Thanks to Dave Moore from Wildfish and the skipper and crew of Coral V for taking me out on a great long lining trip. I was very impressed by how hard you guys worked.”
The Seachange Tai Timu Tai Pari initiative is in the process of preparing a marine spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf. The plan is being developed by a Stakeholder Working Group which has been tasked with developing ‘a spatial plan that will achieve a Hauraki Gulf that is vibrant with life and healthy mauri, is increasingly productive and supports healthy and prosperous communities.’
‘Nature’ article identifies marine spatial planning as a way of bringing fishers and conservationists together to address ecosystem issues.
The Group is focused on identifying ways, to turn around the degradation that has happened over the last century or so, within the next generation. It is committed to achieving this through adopting a holistic approach to solutions based on mātauranga Māori as well as western science.
The Seachange process is being sponsored by the Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries. It is expected that these organisations will implement the marine spatial plan.
The plan is scheduled to be completed later in 2016. The Story of the Hauraki Gulf has been written to help support the implementation of the spatial plan through communicating the issues to a broader audience.
A Celebration of Our Association with this Remarkable Place