Topic: Moturiki Island (Mount Maunganui)

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A small island located off Mount Maunganui's main beach, Moturiki Island has been the site of Moturiki Pa, Moturiki Quarry, Marineland and Leisure Island. Today it is a protected reserve and home to a wide variety of wildlife which includes a colony of little blue penguins.

Looking strange? see an archived version here

The 2.3674 hectare island has been much affected from its use in the past as a quarry, Marineland's creation in the former quarry, and the ease of access to the island by the public via the man-made land bridge. At the northern tip of the island is the well-known blowhole which is spectacular during a large swell and high tide.

In 1989 Bruce Cunningham and Ken Musgrave wrote: There was a great deal of drilling on the old quarry floor. Explosives were placed and then detonated in one convulsive upheaval and when the loose material had been excavated there remained a large open shape. this was filled and stocked with dolphins and other marine life and Marineland was established. It was very popular at first but it is sad to recall that the death rate of dolphins was quite dramatic although efforts were made to conceal the fact from the public (1989, p. 85).

In 1995 Jinty Rorke wrote: In order to provide stone for ballast (the loose stone foundation for the rails) a quarry was established on Moturiki island, destroying evidence of ancient Māori habitation on the island. The pits thus created were later made into pools for Marineland, and reused as swimming pools for Leisure Island. These business ventures having come to an end, Moturiki is now being returned to a natural state (1995, p. 18)

Moturiki Island Timeline:

  • 1841: Found deserted during a visit to the area by Dr Earnest Dieffenbach, surgeon and naturalist employed by the New Zealand Company.
  • 1883: Gilbert Mair begins purchased the interests of 27 Maori owners.
  • 1886-1940: Moturiki Pa terraces clearly visible.
  • 1888: Moturiki No. 1 Block - The Native Land Court awards the interests of 25 owners to the Crown.
  • 1894: Part of Moturiki permanently reserved for recreation purposes.
  • 1895: The recreation purposes land on Moturiki added to the Mount Maunganui Domain.
  • 1910:  The East Coast Main Trunk railway workshops established in Pilot Bay and the settlement given the name Moturiki.
  • 1911: Moturiki No. 2 Block -  Taken from Maori ownership under the Section 16 of the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal and Public Bodies Empowering Act 1911 and the Public Works Act 1905 so a quarry could be formed for the Tauranga-Te Puke section of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway.
  • 1911-1923: Rock quarried from the southern edge of Moturiki from the site of the Moturiki Pa. Quarrying continues until the railway line is completed in 1923.
  • 1912: The Native Land Court awards £20 to the Maori owners of Moturiki No. 2 Block on 16 February.
  • 1922: Both Moturiki blocks declared Crown land under the Land Act 1908.
  • 1924: A licence under Section 307 of the Land Act 1908 granted to the Tauranga Harbour Board to quarry metal from Moturiki.
  • 1926: Moturiki quarry closed.
  • 1927: Moturiki permanently reserved for recreation purposes.
  • 1937: Moturiki proclaimed a recreation reserve and added to the Mount Maunganui Domain.
  • 1964: A 25 year lease awarded to Bay City Enterprises to establish a seaquarium.
  • 1966: Marineland Ltd built and operated as an aquarium for fifteen years, closing in May 1981.
  • 1968: A rock causeway to Moturiki disappears in April 1968 during the same storm that sank the 'Wahine' in Wellington Harbour.
  • 1981: New lease negotiated with Mount Maunganui Leisure Park Co. Ltd. for 25 years.
  • 1981-1990: Leisure Island operating with swimming pools, bumper boats and water slides etc.
  • 1982: Kathleen Fletcher reports that six burials were exposed by the Power Board when the Marineland waterslide was installed. A reburial took place and a plaque marks the area.
  • 1985: Area surveyed by M O'Keefe who recorded obsidian on the top platform as well as the distribution of shell midden and karaka.
  • 1990: Lease surrendered and all structures removed from Moturiki Island.
  • 2011: Penguins released back onto Moturiki after being cleaned of oil during the Rena disaster.


Ocean Beach from Mauao, Mount Maunganui c 1915-1920 99-9

c1915: Ocean Beach from Mauao, Mount Maunganui


Alf Rendell Aerials 12-564

c1940s: Parts of Mount Maunganui campground looking toward Moturiki by Alf Rendell


Moturiki, Mount Maunganui 1961 04-350

1961: Moturiki, Mount Maunganui


Marineland under construction, Mount Maunganui 1960s 06-129

1966: Marineland under construction, Mount Maunganui


Marineland, Mount Maunganui c 1979  99-922

c1979: Marineland, Mount Maunganui 


Penguin release Dec 13 2011 Moturiki 12

2011 (13 December): Penguin release - Moturiki 



A History of Mount Maunganui (1989) by Bruce Cunningham and Ken Musgrave.

Mauao - Mount Maunganui, Main Beach, Moturiki - Leisure Island, Hopukiore - Mount Drury, Waikorire - Pilot Bay Reserves Management Plans (Tauranga District Council, Strategic Planning Department, August 1998).

Maunganui - What it might have been (16 January 1995) by Jinty Rorke (In Western Bay of Plenty Street Names p. 18).

Taking Moturiki Island as a ballast-pit for railway purposes (Reserves and Other Lands Disposal and Public Bodies Empowering Act 1911)

Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana (Volume 2: Documents Relating to Tribal History, Confiscations and Reallocation of Tauranga Lands) (1992) by Evelyn Stokes.

this page was archived at perma cc March 2017

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Moturiki Island (Mount Maunganui)


Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -37.6308425,176.18503899999996

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