Purchase of Motuihe from Maori plus early farmers (1839 to 1872)

Quarantine Stations

WWI Internment Camp

Heritage Trees

Health Camp and the Navy


Government Ownership



These heritage notes for Motuihe Island were sourced from:

Heritage guiding notes for Motuihe guide volunteers written by Michael Wood and updated by Peter Whitmore and Lawrence Thoms.

Text and photos provided by John Laurence chairman of the Motuihe Restoration Trust.

Personal memories from Ronnie Harrison who lived on Motuihe for 22 years as a licensee for the farm and kiosk.

Interview with Peter Whitmore an original trustee who is still serving as a trustee in 2016. 
Interview with Michael Wood, trustee and the lawyer who wrote the original trust document. 

D J Scott of Lincoln College who wrote Motuihe Island Development Proposals for a Recreational Resource in 1974 for the Diploma of Landscape Architecture.

Andy Dodd who carried out a survey of heritage trees of significance in 2004 for the Historic Auckland Conservancy.

Purchase of the island from Maori plus early farmers

 William Fairburn purchased Motuihe  in 1839 from William Jowett , Ko Nuki and Te Manago: chiefs of Te Iwi Tutu, Te Ngatitai and Ngatiwaki respectively. They paid one heifer, twenty blankets, ten axes, ten hoes, ten spades, six gowns, two red blankets, 12 dutch pipes, six iron pots and one shawl.

Copy of Deed:Know all men who shall see these documents that we (viz.) William Jowett of Te Iwi Tutu a native chief, Ko Nuku of Te Nga tai, a native chief, and Te Manago of Ngatiwaki also a native chief, have parted with and alienated for ever that Island known by the name of Motuihe with all things either above or below appertaining to the before named land (which Island is situated in the channel running into Waitemata)  to Mr. Fairburn and to his children to cultivate, to sell, or to dispose of in any way he pleases for ever. On the Eastern side of the above named Island stands Waiheke, on the northern Motutapu, on the Western Motukorea, and in the centre of these islands stands Motuihe.  Payment for the said Motuihe (viz.); one heifer, twenty blankets, ten axes, ten hoes, ten spades, six gowns, two red blankets, twelve Dutch pipes, six n pots, and one shawl. See our marks written on the fifth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine, New Zealand. These are the witnesses. Henry lor, Ko Hemi Pepene, Hoani Pepeni, Rawiri, 'rama ti, Ko William Jowett. The mark x Nuku The mark x Manako

Fairburn established the Church Missionary Society Mission at Maraetai, and had extensive landholdings: at one stage he owned 40,000 acres stretching from the Tamaki river to the Wairoa River (the former flowing into the Waitemata between Saint Heliers and Bucklands Beach, and the latter running northeast from the south end of the Hunua Ranges).

 The following year he sold the island to Henry Tayler, who bought it with the assistance of a Crown Grant for 200 pounds. In 1843 the land was on sold to William Brown and John Logan Campbell for 220 pounds. John Campbell is regarded as one of the founders of Auckland, most famous for gifting Cornwall Park to the city: note the memorial fountain located at the intersection of Manukau Road and Puriri Drive (the drive running through the park). Brown is notable for Brown’s island (Motukorea), which is one of only two maunga in the Auckland Volcanic Field never to have been mined. This island is where Brown and Campbell originally stayed after travelling from the Coromandel, and where they resided while negotiating the purchase of the land which is now Auckland.

Image of Sir John Logan Campbell

 Brown and Campbell ran the island as a farm from 1843: they grew olive trees and ran pigs, goats and hens. In 1858 it was sold to John Graham (who also owned Motutapu), who continued to farm it until he was tragically drowned in 1868 while returning from Motuihe to Auckland. (Ronnie Harrison remembers talking to Amy Haddock at a reunion Ronnie ran on Motuihe. Amy was John Graham's daughter and she was then in her 90s. She recalled standing up on the headland with her mother holding her hand so tightly it hurt her, while her mother looked out towards the sea waiting for her husband. Poor Mrs Graham, widowed with small children trying to farm an island that was mortgaged, difficult for anyone.) In 1872 the island was sold to the Crown by Graham’s son Robert. The island had been mortgaged and it was conveyed to the Crown for 2,500 pounds under power of sale in the mortgage deed. 

Quarantine stations

On December 24th 1872 Motuihe was purchased from Robert Graham for 2,500 pounds for a quarantine station because a ship with cases of small pox on board arrived in the harbour and the entire island was set aside as a human quarantine station by the Board of Health of the Port of Auckland. Work started soon after on establishing the necessary buildings. These included two large barrack buildings made from timber salvaged from the Albert Barracks during its demolition, hospital wards, a brick fumigation building with a tall chimney, stables and a cemetery, but the cemetery was rarely used. The “Dorrette” was the first vessel to be quarantined in 1874, (NZ Herald 16 April 1874 : 2/2) but the first burial in the cemetery was of Mary Long, a 16 year old passenger on the “Hydaspes” who died of scarlet fever the same day that the vessel arrived at Auckland, 6th November 1874.  

Animal Quarantine
The South eastern end of the island was used for animal quarantine purposes by the Department of Agriculture from 1892, and continued until 1941.  The quarantine periods for animals were 14 days for horses and 6 months for dogs, sheep, pigs, cows, bulls, and racehorses.

1918: Spanish Flu
Motuihe was closed as an internment camp on 17th December 1918 after the 80 interred aliens had been transferred to Narrow Neck Camp at Devonport. In 1918 influenza epidemic swept the country and a small line of seaman's graves to the north dates from this time.

 In November / December of 1918, the Makura was quarantined at Motuihe with influenza on board.  The tragic epidemic of the Spanish Flu which ravaged the world in 1918, including Auckland and the Dominion, killed 200 million people worldwide and 6,700 in New Zealand.  Five graves in the cemetery date from this period.

The mail steamer Niagara returning from England was detained here during that time as there were passengers infected with the virus.  However the Prime Minister, Bill Massey, who was on board, controversially insisted on continuing to Auckland with the remainder of the passengers and crew, despite the risk to the population.

Ethel Browning is buried here in the cemetery.  Ethel came over to Motuihe to be with her husband who was captain of the Makura.  While here she helped to nurse those who were sick with the flu, but caught it herself, and died.  She is buried here together with those others who succumbed.  Members of her family visit the island from time to time.

The graves from this period are the following: Private F. D. Bradbury (died 12th November 1918); Kenneth McLeod (died 6th November 1918); Thomas Rowan (died 9th November 1918); J. Johnston (died 10th November 1918); Ethel Browning (died 19th December 1918).

World War I Internment Camp


During World War I, several hundred German and Austrian nationals in New Zealand were interned as “enemy aliens” on Motuihe Island and on Matiu (Somes) Island in Wellington Harbour.  The internment camp housed the “better class” internees, including the German and Austrian Consuls and German businessmen.  When New Zealand occupied Samoa in 1914 (then a German colony), the internees included the Governor of German Samoa, Erich Schultz, officials from the German Samoan Justice, Customs, and Post and Telegraph Departments, and Telefunken engineers who were then completing the Apia radio station. 

Fourteen marine cadets from the Elsass were also interned on Motuihe, having been captured in Apia, Western Samoa, in 1914 after they had arrived there from Pago Pago (American Samoa, the USA at that time not involved in the War), mistakenly believing they could join Graf Spee’s German squadron there.

Life on Motuihe for the internees was not hard. They were given reasonable freedom to roam the island during the day to fish, collect fruit, or swim. Some were even allowed to accompany the camp commandant on trips to Auckland to buy supplies which not available at the canteen. It was a situation of mutual respect and trust. The internees were regarded as being of such a high calibre that they could be trusted not to abuse the freedom given.



Many of the German and Austrian nationals interned in 1914-1918 were accommodated in the barracks

Governor’s Cottage

After numerous complaints by the German Governor that his accommodation was not worthy of his “honoured guest” status, the Swiss Consul reported in 1917 that Schultz had been moved to the “practically newly built bungalow of some six or eight rooms”.  

This photograph, taken in 1917, shows the Governor’s cottage in the foreground. Behind it are the Camp Commandant’s cottage and the barracks building at the top of the road.

Count Von Luckner 


The commander of the German raider Seeadler, Count von Luckner, and his navigation officer Kircheiss, were interned here after their capture in Fiji in 1917. 

In 1916 he was put in command of a sailing raider, the Seeadler (Sea Eagle), with orders to sink merchant shipping, but he became a legend because he managed to wage war while creating virtually no casualties and because of his other exploits.

After sinking several ships in the Atlantic, in April 1917 the Seeadler came around Cape Horn into the Pacific and sank 3 more ships.

In August the Seeadler anchored at the small island of Mopelia in the Society Islands, about 450km from Tahiti. Tradition has it that most of the crew, along with prisoners taken off ships that had been sunk, then went on a picnic.

While they were away disaster struck and the Seeadler was wrecked on a reef. The German crew maintained that this was the result of a tsunami, but the prisoners later said that it was just the combination of the wind and the tide (a situation that would probably have lead to Von Luckner and other crew members being court martialled if they had returned to Germany).

Von Luckner took a 10m open boat from the Seeadler and, together with five of his crew, sailed 3,700 km to the Fijian island of Wakaya, where he was eventually captured and transferred toMotuihe.

Although he raided seventeen Allied ships, of which fourteen were sunk, and took 237 crew captive, he rarely resorted to force. Only one life was lost as a result of his endeavours, and even this was accidental.

Von Luckner on Motuihe with Lieutenant Kircheiss his navigation officer. 

Escape from Motuihe 

On the evening of 17 December 1917, von Luckner and Kircheiss escaped from Motuihe with nine others, including five of the cadets and a Telefunken engineer, who lived in tents and huts near the trees behind the barracks building.  At a prearranged signal after the arrival of the Camp Commandant in his launch (he was accompanying his daughter, who was visiting the island), they all converged from various buildings (von Luckner was in the Governor’s cottage) onto the old wharf at the bottom of the hill and stole the Commandant’s launch, the Pearl, reaching the Mercury Islands by the following morning.

In order to divert attention from the escape bid, von Luckner requested permission to put on a Christmas play so any preparations for the play could be a disguise as preparations for the escape. The sails for the boat were made from a stage curtain, hand grenades were manufactured out of tin cans and gunpowder obtained by the farmer to blast tree roots, chickens were killed and preserved (the increase in deaths being blamed on disease), and the German naval flag was made out of a sheet.

The telephone wire was earthed to cut off contact with Auckland, the dingy was destroyed to stall any pursuit, the Pearl was packed with provisions and the motor was prepared for the long journey. A cart was then taken down from the northwest headland as a signal for everyone to board the boat and they left in the early evening without a hitch.

Their goal was to get as far away from Auckland as possible, then commandeer a suitable vessel to get them to the Kermadec Islands, where they would raid the New Zealand government’s stores for provisions, then sail back to Germany via South America.

Von Luckner’s escape from Motuihe created headlines in New Zealand and around the world because of its audacity and established von Luckner as a folk hero in New Zealand.

Boaties in Auckland volunteered to help with the search, and the official New Zealand patrol consisted of 29 craft (Bade, 2006).

From the Mercury Islands, Von Luckner and his fellow internees commandeered the scow Moa and made it as far as the Kermadec Islands, some 1000 kilometres northeast of New Zealand, before they were captured by the New Zealand Government vessel, the Iris, on 21 December 1917.

Von Luckner and Kircheiss were then interned on Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour, before being returned to the Motuihe barracks in May 1918, where they remained until the November armistice that ended World War I.

There is another story of a second planned escape attempt, although it is doubtful whether it was actually going to be carried out. The plan was to place enough supplies in a cave on the island so that several internees could hide there for a couple of weeks and pretend they had escaped. Once the search for them had been scaled down they would capture another vessel and escape. However, the armistice came and an escape plan was not needed. It is believed that some of these supplies may still be in the cave, but rock has collapsed over the entrance and the cave is now filled with sediment.•

Camp Commandant 

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Harcourt Turner was the commandant of the internment camp for most of the war. The escape by Von Luckner changed everything for him.

On the 13th December he returned from Auckland at 6 pm in his launch “Pearl” with his daughter. The launch should have been put on a mooring but was left tied to the wharf. The escape took place at 6.15 pm in daylight. Turner was immediately suspended for culpable negligence due to the inadequate arrangements for ensuring the security of his launch. There was a court martial. His defence said that Von Luckner exploited Turner’s good nature. His friendly, relaxed methods at the internment camp had been adequate for the years he had been the commandant. Also he was under staffed and the army had actually reduced the number of personnel on the island not long before the escape. Turner was dismissed from the NZ Defence Force.

His successor was Major Samuel Charles Schofield. He ran a much stricter regime. He had no launch, the supply ship was armed and internees were not allowed out of the camp without a guard. Von Luckner and Kircheiss his navigation officer, returned to Motuihe in May 1918 and remained there until armistice on 11 November 1918. They were moved to Narrow Neck in 1919 until they were repatriated to Germany in May 1919.

Heritage Trees

Content taken from a survey of the trees conducted by Andy Dodd, Technical Support – Historic Auckland Conservancy in 2004.

In addition to their historic context these trees also derive significance from their aesthetic contribution to the landscape and their ability to explain activities occurring on Motuihe. Most of the trees were planted during the quarantine period 1872 to 1941. They were largely donated by wealthy benefactors to be planted by the internees for the purpose of providing fresh air and exercise and to beautify the island. It is probable that the olive grove was originally established when Brown and Campbell owned the island (1843 to 1872) but it is impossible to verify this with any certainty. Most of these trees are on the north western headland and the isthmus of Motuihe.

Norfolk Pines

The Norfolk pines give the iconic view of Motuihe as you approach the wharf.

There are numerous Norfolk Pines on the road up to the headland, on the isthmus and also across the main part of the island where they were used as a wind break when it was a farm. Motuihe is the only known place other than Norfolk Island where Norfolk pines are naturalized.

The Norfolk pines are considered an iconic part of the Motuihe landscape.

Olive trees

The olive grove is between the headland road and the Surgeon’s Cottage. These trees do produce fruit that has been collected by some families over decades.

Fruit trees

The farm had an orchard of pear and Christmas plum trees. The remnants still remain and they give their name to Orchard Bush through which the Saddleback track winds.

Morton Bay Figs

There are two magnificent examples on the main avenue up to the headland near the toilet block.

Gallipoli Aleppo Pines

There were 10 of these historic trees planted after the First WW from seed brought back by soldiers from Gallipoli. Some were on the cliffs of the headland, some on the low cliff opposite the kiosk and the biggest group up above the Surgeon’s cottage. They were all cut down because they were a danger to the public being over 100 years old. However, one seedling survives and is fenced and labeled above the Surgeon’s Cottage. The Aleppo pine growing on the lawn outside the north entrance to the Auckland War memorial Museum was planted in 2003 from seed taken from Motuihe Island.

Other pines

There were a number of other types of pine trees planted on the island eg Hoop pine, Perth Christmas tree, Austrian pine, Brown pine, Canary Island pine, and the island has the southern most example of Scots pine. Many of these trees were removed because of their danger to the public and also because of the restoration of the island to return the native bush.

Health camp and the Navy 

1929-1941  Sunshine Children's Health Camp

 About 1929 the Community Sunshine Association was permitted to use the Quarantine Station for the establishment of children's health camps; this organisation, with others, cared for a large number of children who were hurridly evacuated from Napier after the severe earthquake in 1931 and sent to Motuihe.

 From 1919 health camps were organised by community groups for children at risk of malnutrition and diseases such as tuberculosis. The camps multiplied during the economic depression of the 1930s. A Federation of Health Camps was founded in 1936 and the following year a campaign to establish permanent health camps around the country began. The camps aimed to improve each child's health by teaching good habits and providing sensible routines and a balanced diet.

 New Zealand’s first health camps were set up by Elizabeth Gunn in 1919 to help children who were malnourished or suffering tuberculosis. At these temporary camps, children could expect lots of sun, rest, fresh air, exercise, and nutritious meals.

Coastal Defences

Motuihe was part of the coastal defence network installed to protect Auckland from attack by the Japanese during the second world war.  Two 4 inch g uns were
installed, one on the headland behind the graves and one on the causeway just behind where the original kiosk was situated. The guns were never needed.  Their foundations can still be seen.

Naval Period 1941-63

  With the outbreak of World War II and the urgent need to train more naval personnel, the buildings at the northwest headland on Motuihe were converted into a navy training establishment during 1941, named HMNZS Tamaki.

 Motuihe Island was considered an ideal site for a naval training establishment: it was close to Auckland, yet separate from its distractions, provided facilities, and had a beautiful physical setting.

 The twenty-two old quarantine buildings, which could accommodate 287 people, formed the nucleus of the facility. In order to accommodate more naval cadets, between 1941 and 1943, fifteen new buildings with a total floor area of 63,500 square feet were constructed including a provision store, a naval and clothing store, a canteen, a gymnasium and chapel, a school, a signal instruction building, a hospital, a dental clinic, and four large dormitories. Total accommodation was now 517.

 More than 6000 recruits passed through Tamaki during the 22 years it operated, including many who served in the Second World War.

 Cadets typically stayed here for their 3 months initial training after entering the navy, during which time they were “broken in” to the navy way of life. Among other things, they sailed Whalers (large open boats), slept in hammocks and sometimes ate their food straight off the table – no plates. The fuel to run the base came from coal which was transported from the wharf using carts that ran on rails – still visible near wharf.

 The navy base continued in peacetime to be used for basic training in seamanship, fitness anddiscipline. In 1963 HMNZS Tamaki moved to the North Shore and the base reverted to Domain Board control.

 When the navy vacated in 1963, most of the approximately 70 buildings were demolished. Many were bulldozed over the cliff and remnants of cups and saucers can still be found on the rocks below. Some were also moved off the island. The cost of demolishing the water tower was considered too high so it was left standing. It could now be considered an historic feature, but its future remains in doubt given the danger it poses and the cost of preserving it. The concrete pads near the water tower are the site of the naval flagpole, shown on some of the photos.

 Return to Farming 1963-2000

During the navy period the larger portion of the island was farmed and maintained by sheep and fat cattle by farm manager Darryl Cotter on behalf of the Auckland City Council.

 1968    HMNZS Tamaki is gazetted a recreation reserve, and control of Motuihe passes to the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park Board.  The Farm house and Top House date from this period. In 2016 the only buildings remaining from the Navy time are the derelict naval surgeons cottage and the water tower which is in a dangerous state. 


Farmers on Motuihe

Motuihe has been a farm from the time it was purchased by Campbell and Brown in 1843 right up until the stock was removed to make way for the restoration of the native bush in 2005.

Earlier owners of the island, W H Fairburn and then Henry Taylor do not seem to have farmed it.

1858 John Graham bought the island off Campbell and Brown for 2,000 pounds. He drowned while rowing back from Devonport. His son Robert sold the island to the government in 1872 because his father had mortgaged it.

Mr Thos Duder

Alex Allison

During the Navy time on the island, 1941 until 1963 the eastern end of the island was still farmed.

Darrell and Barbara Cotter and family
appointed by Auckland Domain Board

Bert and Becky Screen and their family

John and Faye Allen and family. They left Motuihe in 1990 and transferred to Motutapu as DOC Ranger. Bruce Nelson lived in the single man’s house.  In 1987 when Frank Vanderson moved to Motutapu, John Allen and Bruce Nelson took over part of the DOC job.

1987 Lands and Survey became Landcorp

Land Corp ran the farm from Motutapu
Terence Derby of Motutapu Farms Ltd Manager on Motuihe.  Motutapu farms used Motuihe farm as a run off. He bought the concession and had it for 2 years. Ronnie Harrison bought the concession off Terrance in 1987.

Ronnie Harrison and Terry Gibbons Licence to operate facilities granted by HGMPB including Kiosk plus the farm included in 1987 and the farm on Brown’s Island.  When the kiosk burned down in 2002 Ronnie and Terry continued to run the farm. There was no DOC ranger until the kiwis were released in 2009. Farm animals were removed in Jan 2005 and infrastructure and fencing has been removed since so from 2005 Motuihe has not been a farm.

Government Ownership


Government activity on Motuihe Island

From 1872 up until the current day Motuihe Island has been owned by the government of New Zealand. This makes Motuihe one of the longest publicly owned reserves in New Zealand. It has been used for a variety of purposes but always remained in government hands.


On December 24th Purchased from Robert Graham for 2,500 pounds for a quarantine station because a ship with cases of small pox on board had arrived in Auckland. Officially still a quarantine station up until the time the Navy took over in 1941.

1914 to 1918

World War I Internment camp for the duration of the war. German citizens were kept on the island including the Governor of Samoa. Also used as a prison camp for Count von Luckner and 6 of his crew when they were captured in Fiji.

1929 to 1941

Sunshine Children’s Health Camp

1941 to 1963

HMNZS Tamaki  on the island as part of the coastal defence network around the gulf to protect Auckland from Japanese attack. The New Zealand Navy established a basic training camp on the island after the war.


Navy passed control of the island over to the Domain Board of Auckland Council


Control of the island passed to the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park Board Farmed by Lands and Survey on behalf of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park

Full time ranger M Paul looked after recreation activities and public relations.


Department of Conservation formed and took over the control of the island

Land Corp took over from Lands and Survey


Restoration Trust formed working along side DOC.


1968 M Paul

1987 Frank Vanderson (went to Motutapu)

John Allen When John Allan left in 1990 there was no DOC presence on the island except for a university student over the summer to run the camp.  Ronnie Harrison and Terry ran the island on their own. It was not until Motuihe got kiwis in 2009 that DOC got interested in the island and put a ranger permanently on Motuihe.

John Mills

Short term rangers after John Mills left: Stefan Sebregts, Paul Taylor, Louise Mack, Susan Thomas,  Dave Grimmer, Paul Puddephatt

Sam Gambling Summer ranger 2009/2010/2012 Full time ranger October 2013 until to February 2015.

2014/2016 Dave Beamish came Dec. 2014 left June 2016

Dave is of Ngai Tai descent

Salary half paid by Restoration Trust

2016 June

Michael Jenkins shared with Motutapu


Power and phone
Until 1989 Motuihe had mains power. The power came from Church Bay Waiheke to the eastern end of Ocean Beach. The cable broke 5 times in 5 years so State Insurance refused to reinsure it and it was not repaired. The cable was  just lying on the sea bed, not buried. About 38 anchors were found by divers during the repairs over the 5 years.

Public phone cable came from Home Bay on Motutapu to Ocean Beach by the kiosk. The phone was located at the front of the kiosk.

Buildings on the North West Headland
The only buildings or structures surviving on the northwest headland are the naval surgeon’s residence, a water reservoir, a Ministry of Works building and the salt water tower. The former naval surgeon’s house was retained for use by the Sea Cadet Association into the 1970s. It is now derelict. The water reservoir would have been used as a fresh water supply from the two large water reservoirs on the highest point of the island. It was built during the same time as the water tower in 1941. The water tower was used to store salt water for use in toilets and for fire fighting purposes. The cottage was brought to Motuihe in the 1940s and housed the successive naval surgeons for the camp. The last surgeon to occupy the cottage was Tony Slark and his wife Eileen and their young family. Tony, who died in 2004 was the Trust’s first patron. He was a pioneer in the understanding of the medical effects of deep sea diving and the treatment of conditions such as the bends.

The Motuihe Canteen was built on the isthmus by Auckland City Council prior to 1961. The kiosk was a well known and popular stopover for boaties, selling burgers, sandwiches, ice creams and bait until it was destroyed by fire in 2002. The fire was caused by a wiring fault and the gas bottles ignited causing an explosion. A considerable amount of the history of the island was lost in the fire. Ronnie Harrison, her partner Terry Gibbons and son Michael ran the kiosk from 1984 until the fire destroyed it. They lived in the back of the kiosk. The previous licensee was the Shuttons and before them Mr and Mrs H Morton.

Report on Canteen 1974: - situated on a high knoll at the south-eastern end of
picnic ground No.1. - reasonably acceptable siting both functionally and visually.  Colour - brown and yellow with white trims. Condition - average, however space to store stock is inadequate as the canteen manager’s residence is included in the structure. To be replaced.

This photo shows the original kiosk on the knob between Wharf Bay and Ocean Beach.

The first Motuihe Project interpretation for visitors was mounted on a purpose built trailer. The DOC rules required that the interpretation information be mobile and not fixed to the ground. The sign was developed by Louise Cotterell and John Laurence in 2006. In later years the placards were attached around the Norfolk pine tree and then later moved to the Woolshed. This information sign was also installed by the Trust.

The  tipping trailer was a multi purpose heavy duty trailer designed for the information placards, carrying volunteers, and transporting plants, potting mix, and equipment.

The Trust set up a small kiosk in 2007. It was built in Taupo and trucked then barged on to the island on Dec 2. 


Water Supply
Water comes from a spring-fed well in the gulley behind the eastern end of Ocean Beach and probably dates back to Navy base days. The pump shed on top of the well was re-designed in 1964.  The water is pumped up to the plastic water tanks next to the pond and gravity fed down to the woolshed, top house, rangers house and toilet block.

Original toilets were located on the knoll near the canteen. In 1974 the condition was described as deteriorating and there was a plan to replace the toilet block.
There were two changing sheds and a shelter shed on the beach at Wharf Bay. Again, in 1974 they were described as being in poor condition and needed to be replaced.
The current toilet block and changing shed was built in 1984.

This photo shows the original shelter shed and changing sheds.

The Motuihe wharf has been a concern for many years. It is exposed to the SW the prevailing wind and it has to be very long because of the shallow water in Wharf Bay. At one time it was almost twice its current length. It has been patched up over the years eg in 2016 extra piles were added for ferries to tie up to and the steps were widened.

This photo shows the wharf at full length.Large picnic groups came to Motuihe on the Baroona.
The wharf was rebuilt in 1979 and that is probably when it was shortened to its current length. The original build date is unknown but there are photos dated 1918 with both wharves (the second one being at the start of the rock wall on the beach). There is an aerial photo from 1962 showing just one wharf and it is at full length.

The top photo shows the smaller wharf that came off the beach at Wharf Bay. The remains of the piles can still be seen. The bottom picture is the stone jetty that is used for the unloading of equipment.

The following is comment made by D J Scott in a dissertation written in 1974 called Motuihe Island Development proposals for a Recreational Resource

Motuihe Island wharf is in a state of disrepair and estimates for replacement tend to be high, if not prohibitive.  Repair work is undertaken at intervals to keep the wharf in a safe condition for holiday season use, but the expected life of the wharf at the most is 5 years.

The following article appeared in the Auckland star, in October, 1974:
MOTUIHE WHARF 'DANGEROUS' The wharf at Motuihe Island is dangerous and beyond repair, according to the report of the Hauraki Gulf Transport Improvement Committee. Early approval should be given to its reconstruction, says the report" It adds that park facilities on the island are insuffi cient and inadequate to meet the needs of visitors.

" Another article appeared in the Auckland star, in December, 1975:

Deterioration and lack of finance caused the outer section of the Motuihe wharf to be closed to traffic yesterday. The chairman of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park Board, Mr. J.D. O'Brien, said the wharf would have to be replaced but the board had not been able to obtain from its own or government sources the $200,000 required. Meanwhile, the inner section would remain and be available for public use but the depth of water available at low tide would restrict the type of vessel that could berth there. Mr. O'Brien said the park board had not given up the idea of wharf replacement. The board recognised the important part Motuihe played in the park in providing an island picnic ground easily accessible by public transport.  But the board had to be realistic because there were many demands on public funds. The cost of building a new structure would be high because of the length of wharf required. Special consideration would be given to  picnic areas. This later move has a bearing on the level of recreational use, and also on the type of user. 

The minimal roading system on Motuihe is inherited from the farming and naval activities on the island. The tarsealed road from the wharf up to the headland was provided for the navy to move gear and personnel. It is currently in quite a deteriorated condition particularly along the foreshore. The road running along the spine of the island is from the farming days. It runs from the narrow isthmus up to the ranger station and on out to the eastern end of the island. It is shingle and not suitable for walking on without shoes. In 1974 it was suggested that it be reformed in material both in keeping with the marine character of the island and for walking on.

Woolshed and volunteer house
After the Trust was formed in 2000 the wool shed was steadily converted to a nursery over the next 3 or 4 years. The shed still had races and clippers. The first development was the building of the plastic house and the shade house. A new floor was built over the slats where the sheep were shawn. Ronnie Harrison had been renting the top house out to visitors to the island. Like the wool shed it was developed over the first few years of the Trust with bunks added and the wood/coal stove removed. In 2015 the porch at the back was added  and in 2016 the extended deck at the front. Both these jobs were carried out by Steve Nelson a member of the Trust Board.