The Kermadec Islands /kərˈmædɛk/ are a subtropical island arc in the South Pacific Ocean 800–1,000 km northeast of New Zealand's North Island, and a similar distance southwest of Tonga. The islands are part of New Zealand, 33.6 km2 in total area and uninhabited, except for the permanently manned Raoul Island Station, the northernmost outpost of New Zealand. The islands are listed with the New Zealand outlying islands. The islands are an immediate part of New Zealand, but not part of...
The islands were named after the Breton captain Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec, who visited the islands as part of the d'Entrecasteaux expedition in the 1790s. The topographic particle "Kermadec" is of Breton origin and is a lieu-dit in Pencran in Finistère where ker means village, residence and madec a proper name derived from mad with the suffix -ec, used to form adjectives indicating a property. The Māori name is Rangitāhua which is also used for Raoul island.
As indicated by their name for the Islands, Rangitahua – the Stopping-off Place, Polynesian people "stopped off" on the Kermadec Islands in around the 14th century. The first Europeans to reach the area – the Lady Penrhyn in May 1788 – found no inhabitants. British, American and Australian whaling vessels cruised offshore in the 19th century and often visited the islands in search of water, wood and food. The first such vessel on record was the whaler Fanny that visited Raoul Island ...
The islands lie within 29° to 31.5° south latitude and 178° to 179° west longitude, 800–1,000 km northeast of New Zealand's North Island, and a similar distance southwest of Tonga. The total area of the islands is 33.6 km2.
The islands are recognised by ecologists as a distinct ecoregion, the Kermadec Islands subtropical moist forests. It is a tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests ecoregion, part of the Oceanian realm. The forests are dominated by the red-flowering Kermadec ...
The islands have no native land mammals. An endemic bird subspecies is the Kermadec red-crowned parakeet. The group has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because of its significance as a breeding site for several species of seabirds, including wh
The introduction of cats, rats, and goats devastated the forests and seabirds. Overgrazing by goats eliminated the forests of Macauley Island, leaving open grasslands, and altered the understory of Raoul Island. Predation by rats and cats reduced the seabird colonies on the main
- 33.6 km² (13.0 sq mi)
- about 6
- 516 m (1693 ft)
- around 16
Kermadec Islands, volcanic island group in the South Pacific Ocean, 600 mi (1,000 km) northeast of Auckland, New Zealand; they are a dependency of New Zealand. They include Raoul (Sunday), Macauley, and Curtis islands and l’Esperance Rock and have a total land area of 13 sq mi (34 sq km).
Kermadec Islands Located in the Northland region View saved (0) The Kermadec Islands Nature Reserve and Marine Reserve, located about 1,000 km northeast of New Zealand, is the most remote area managed by DOC and can only be visited with a special permit.
- Geology and Climate
- Plants and Animals
- Human Impact
- Raoul Island
- Southern Islands
The Kermadecs are part of a chain of huge undersea volcanoes – the islands are the only part above water. Some of these volcanoes are still active. The climate is mild and subtropical.
Distinctive plants and animals – many of them related to New Zealand species – have developed on the Kermadecs. Raoul Island is the only forested island. Species include the Kermadec pōhutukawa, Kermadec nīkau and māpou. There are large colonies of seabirds, including the red-tailed tropic bird, masked booby and Kermadec parakeet. Plants and animals introduced by humans have become pests and affected native species. However, goats, cats and rats have been eradicated on Raoul and Macauley islands, and the bird life is increasing.
Polynesians visited from the 1300s. In Māori tradition, the Aotea and Kurahaupōcanoes visited the Kermadecs, which Māori call Rangitāhua. In 1793 French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux charted the islands. European whalers landed from the 1790s, leaving live goats to provide meat. New Zealand annexed the islands in 1887.
Raoul Island is the largest island at 29 square kilometres. It is part of an underwater volcano, and its calderas have erupted several times since the early 1800s – most recently in 2006. A few families settled there from the 1830s, but left after an eruption in 1870. Thomas Bell and his family lived on the island for 35 years from 1878. From the 1930s attempts were made to grow fruit for export, but they failed because the island lacks a safe harbour.
Macauley and Curtis islands are south-west of Raoul Island. Their small size, difficult access and lack of fresh water has deterred human settlement. The New Zealand government set up castaway depots in the late 19th century.
The Kermadec Islands are an uninhabited group of 13 small islands formed by active and recently extinct volcanoes along the boundary of the Australian Plate between 29º to 31.5oS latitude and 178º to 179oW longitude (Sykes & West 1996). Raoul (29 km2) and Macauley Islands (3.1 km2) comprise more than 95 percent of the islands’ land area.
The Kermadec Islands are the tiny emergent part of a chain of submarine volcanoes that define the Kermadec ridge. In political terms the Kermadecs are important for New Zealand as they define the northern extent of both the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS).
- Raoul Island
- Macauley Island
- The Smaller Islands
- Discovery and Early Settlement
- Restoration and Conservation
Raoul Island is the largest at 2943ha and the only island in the group covered in forest, with rugged hillsides clad in endemic Kermadec pohutukawa and nikau. At the centre of the anvil-shaped island is a huge caldera with three lakes – evidence of the island’s explosive nature. The most recent eruptions occurred in 1814, 1870, 1964 and 2006. Video created by Sian Potier and Toby Shanley showing life for staff on Raoul Island in 2011.
Macauley Island – the second largest island of the group at 323ha – has a simple cake-like topography with an open flattish top, called the Plateau, with several deep canyons cut into the soft rock. New Zealand established a castaway depot on the island in 1889 serviced regularly by government steamers through to the end of the First World War. Polynesian rats, pigs and goats were established on the island. Pigs died out naturally, goats were shot out by 1970, and the last invaders, the rats, were eradicated in 2006. Virtually tree-less, the island’s flora is now dominated by sedge Cyperus and a species of giant fern Hypolepis. Despite the previous trampling of goats, the island is home to over 6 million seabirds. This includes the world’s largest colony of black-winged petrel, the only population of the near endemic white-naped petrel, Kermadec petrel, Kermadec little shearwater and, most likely now that rats are gone, the tiny Kermadec storm petrel.
Curtis Island is 52ha and is an active volcano, with steaming vents and fissures. Vegetation consists entirely of coastal herbs dominated by ice plant. Early visits before the 1900s accessed a sheltered cove but subsequent volcanic activity has eliminated this cove entirely. Always rat free, it supports a large colony of the endemic Kermadec little shearwater. Cheeseman (8ha), L’Esperance (4.8ha), Haszard (6ha) and the 7 islands in the Herald group (total 51ha) also support important seabird populations and have always been rat free. The Herald Group has been particularly important in re-establishing native birds on Raoul, once decimated by predators.
The archaeological and historic landscape of the Kermadec Islands, especially Raoul, is extensive and extremely important. As the only islands between Polynesia and New Zealand, they were periodically occupied by Polynesians on their great ocean voyages. Evidence of their presence includes plants they would have brought with them such as taro, flax, candlenut, ti and kumera. The islands were uninhabited when Europeans first arrived. Whalers from the 1820s used the islands to source wood, water and fresh provisions such as seabirds and their eggs. They were followed by a series of attempts at settlement by people dreaming of an idyllic tropical lifestyle maintained by supplying whaling ships with fresh produce. Read in 1836 was the first settler. The Bell family settled for the longest (from 1878 until 1914). They grew an impressive array of vegetables and fruit including “edible arum, 14 varieties of banana, six varieties of taro, kumara, oranges, lemons, citrons, shaddocks, limes,...
The Kermadecs are a seabird refuge of major international importance. Over six million seabirds breed on the islands. For eleven of the 14 seabird taxa, the Kermadecs are the only New Zealand breeding location. This abundance of birdlife is a far cry from the decimated populations recorded by the Ornithological Society of New Zealand on its visit to the island in 1967. At this time, the ravages of Norwegian or brown rats (likely to have arrived when the ‘Columbia River’ was wrecked here in 1921) and other pests were having a serious effect on native fauna and flora. When WRB Oliver visited on a scientific expedition for 10 months in 1908 he found vast numbers of seabirds present. By 1967 they were all but gone, as were the Kermadec parakeets. Concerted efforts to rid the island of pests have been hugely successful. Goats were eradicated during the 1970s and rats and cats from 2002-2003. Land birds are once again dominated by tui and Kermadec parakeet. Also present are kingfisher, sp...
SMITH, S.P. 1887. The Kermadec Islands, their capabilities and extent. Government Printer, Wellington.
Kermadec Islands The Kermadec Islands are a subtropical island arc in the South Pacific Ocean 800–1,000 km northeast of New Zealand's North Island, and a similar distance southwest of Tonga.
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