Chatham Islands Anniversary Day is celebrated each year on the Monday closest to November 30 and takes place on November 28 this year. It is a holiday observed in Chatham Islands Territory in New Zealand. There are around 10 islands in Chatham Islands Territory that lie 500 miles to the east of New Zealand. The islands have been a part of New Zealand since 1842. On the Monday of the anniversary, businesses, offices, and schools remain shut. The general population celebrates the anniversary with feasts, parades, carnivals, and the islanders catching up with each other. It is one of the long-held observations in New Zealand.
History of Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
The Chatham Islands celebrate the anniversary as a provincial holiday. Chatham Islands lay 500 miles east of the southern part of New Zealand. There are 10 islands, of which Chatham Island and Pitt Island are the largest. While there are farmlands on some of the islands, the remaining have been left to preserve flora and fauna. The Chatham Islands are some of the most sparsely populated places on Earth with an estimated population of 800 people in 2021 and a population density of one person per square kilometer.
The islands have been named after the first ship that landed on its shores, the HMS Chatham. The ship was navigated by Captain Broughton and it reached the islands in November 1791. Their arrival marks the initiation of the Chatham Islands Anniversary. Once the European sealers and whalers landed, they eventually claimed ownership of the island. They were called ‘sealers’ and ‘whalers’ because they were fond of hunting seals and whales. Their frequent hunting endangered the lives of these animals.
Even worse, an estimated number of 10% to 20% of indigenous Moriori died due to the illnesses introduced by the Europeans. On a good note, hunting for seals and whales was eventually prohibited, and fishing became an important economic activity on the islands. As the years went by, the islands experienced a significant rise in their economy. The islanders even began exporting wool; however, this was cut short during World War II due to economic depression.
Many islanders then moved to the mainland and briefly exported crayfish.
Chatham Islands Anniversary Day timeline
The Moriori people arrive at the islands.
The Chatham Islands becomes a Kiwi colony.
The Moriori people are no longer kept as slaves.
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Chatham Islands Anniversary Day FAQs
Does anyone live on the Chatham Islands?
The Chatham Islands have a population of 800 as of June 2021.
What are the Chatham Islands famous for?
The Chatham Islands are famous for their seafood, marine life, and wildlife.
How big are the Chatham Islands?
The Chatham Islands cover an area of 306.51m2.
How to Observe Chatham Islands Anniversary Day
Visit the Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands aren’t hailed as tourist spots; however, the beauty of the islands is stunning. Green vistas and pristine waters are a treat to the eyes. You can take your whole family — make sure to book a tour in advance as transport and accommodation are limited on the islands.
Learn the history of the islands
Read the history of the Chatham Islands on Chatham Islands Anniversary Day. From its colonization to present-day history, there’s a lot to find out! It’s always good to know your facts so you can share them with friends and family on social media.
Fishing is one of the primary industries in the Chatham Islands. Celebrate the anniversary by treating yourself to your favorite seafood. To make this holiday more fun, you can also go fishing! Catch and cook your own seafood.
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Why Chatham Islands Anniversary Day is Important
Reminder to preserve nature
A large part of the Chatham Islands is unable to preserve flora and fauna as they are not offshore islands. The anniversary day is a good day to be inspired by the islands and do our bit to conserve mother nature.
Celebrates the indigenous people of the island
The Morioris are the primary inhabitants of the Chatham Islands. Chatham Islands Anniversary Day celebrates the perseverance and the many contributions of the community to the island’s history.
An important part of Kiwi history
The colonization of the Chatham Islands is an important part of New Zealand’s history. It shows us the country’s strong will in overcoming colonization. Therefore, the observation is also a celebration of New Zealand.
Chatham Islands Anniversary Day dates