Topic: Motuotau Island (Mount Maunganui)

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Many years ago, the beach in front of Motuotau (Rabbit Island) was the scene of a massacre. Confiscated from local iwi after the 1864 Battle of Gate Pa, the island was returned and then later purchased by the Crown. Today the island is a wildlife sanctuary and home to 600 little blue penguins - Debbie McCauley.

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In local history, some time after the Battle of Kokowai, Te Kumikumi of the Waitaha people (near Te Puke) was killed by a party of Ngai Te Rangi. His son’s Ruataumanu and Whiti devised a plan to avenge their father’s death. They learnt the art of kite making and one early morning they flew their kites on the shore near Hopukiore (Mt Drury) to simulate a flock of birds diving on a school of fish. The Ngai Te Rangi living on Mauao saw what they believed were birds and rushed down to the beach with their nets ready to catch fish. The birds fell out of the sky and the exhausted fishermen were attacked by the waiting Waitaha warriors who massacred them on the beach in front of Motuotau (Rabbit Island).

According to Roimata Minhinnick, Maori traditionally used the island for gathering Titi (Mutton Bird) and fern roots. Finfish, crayfish and shellfish were harvested from the surrounding moana.

Motuotau Island may also have been used for storing food as kumara pits can still be seen.

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

Ocean Beach from Mauao, Mount Maunganui (c1915-1920). Photo: Tauranga City Libraries.

During the Rena Disaster, many penguins were rescued from Motuotau and taken to Te Maunga where they were cared for before being released back into their natural environment.

Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui

Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui. Photo: Paul Cuming.

 

Penguin oiled, ashore, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui

Penguin oiled, ashore, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui. Photo: Paul Cuming.

 

Landing beach, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui

Landing beach, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui. Photo: Paul Cuming.

 

Main camp, Motuotau, Oiled Wildlife Response Team

Main camp, Motuotau, Oiled Wildlife Response Team. Photo: Paul Cuming.

 

Seal pup, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui

Seal pup, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui. Photo: Paul Cuming.


Grey-faced Petrel adult, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui

Grey-faced Petrel adult, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui. Photo: Paul Cuming.


kina, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui

Kina, Motuotau Island, Mount Maunganui. Photo: Paul Cuming.



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Motuotau Island (Mount Maunganui)


Year:2015
Location:


Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -37.6312633,176.19440970000005

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