Historic Ripapa Island open for summer visitors

Steeped in Māori and European history, the recent reopening of Banks Peninsula’s Ripapa Island has been celebrated today by Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

Members of the local community and tamariki from Lyttelton Primary School have this afternoon retraced the footsteps of Ngāti Wheke ancestors. Those gathered listened to stories about the former fortified Māori Pā before it was later transformed into a quarantine station, and then a military fort at the end of the 19th century.

“I am delighted to join Ngāti Wheke and DOC in officially welcoming some of the first visitors back to this tōpuni site,” said Eugenie Sage.

Closed since the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ngāti Wheke jointly manage the Category 1 Ripapa Island Heritage Area and have spent $100,000 repairing the island’s historic wharf.

“The island has a rich and often fraught history which is largely unknown by New Zealanders. I hope many people take the opportunity to visit this summer and share the stories of what they learn with their whanau.

“Originally the South Island’s first musket fortified pā in the early nineteenth century, Ripapa Island was later used as a quarantine zone for immigrants and a prison for 150 Parihaka prisoners. For the past 131 years, it has been home to the Fort Jervois - the country’s most complete ‘Russian Scare’ fort, featuring rare ‘disappearing guns’.”

Ngāti Wheke spokesperson Yvette Couch-Lewis says mana whenua formally reopened and blessed Ripapa in July 2019 to ensure the island’s wairua was safe for future visitors.

“A tōpuni was placed over Ripapa in recognition of the significant cultural, spiritual, historic and traditional values of the island for mana whenua.”

Ngāti Wheke and DOC are planning to increase the iwi’s cultural presence on the island by installing a carved waharoa/gateway, and pou whenua on the island in the future as has been done on Ōtamahua/Quail Island.

“Earlier this year the nine metre tall pou whenua, Te Hamo o Tū Te Rakiwhānoa was installed on Ōtamahua. We at Rapaki know the importance of that connection to our culture, but also the value in sharing our rich history and we look forward to telling our story on Ripapa,” said Yvette Couch-Lewis

Eugenie Sage says Ripapa is less known by Cantabrians than the island deserves, mainly because the island can currently only be accessed by boat.

“Ripapa is steeped in Māori and European history and stories about this site should be shared with local and international visitors to Banks Peninsula. DOC and Ngāti Wheke are exploring ways to enable more people to visit and enjoy this special place.”

Latest Conservation Announcements

Story

Greens welcome Government plan for law change to better protect nature

The Green Party supports Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan’s announcements today that Government intends to review the Wildlife Act 1953 and pro...
Read More

Story

No new mines: It’s time to uphold your promise

The Green Party has launched a campaign calling on the Minister for Conservation, Kiritapu Allan and Minister for Energy, Megan Woods to fulfil a p...
Read More

Story

No time for half measures - ban import of palm oil by-products

The Government should take urgent action to ban imports of Palm Kernel Expeller and Palm Kernel Meal, the Green Party says.
Read More

Story

Make it a shore thing – Bird of the Year 2021

The Green Party is calling on people to go dotty for dotterel and vote for the New Zealand Dotterel/Tūturiwhatu as Bird of the Year 2021.
Read More

Story

Greens call for more protection of native whitebait species at risk of extinction

The Green Party is pleased to see new whitebaiting measures, announced today, to establish a more consistent management regime across the country, ...
Read More

Story

Greens urge Government to stick to no new mines commitment in stewardship land review and reclassification

The Green Party is urging the Government to stick with its 2017 commitment to no new mines on public conservation land, as the Government speeds up...
Read More