Posted By QEII National Trust | July 13, 2023

A well-known spot in the Kerikeri Inlet, Aroha Island, will not be re-opening for camping and holiday accommodation in 2023.

The Aroha Island Charitable Trust (AICT) operated the island under lease as an eco-centre and holiday accommodation but has decided not to renew its lease. The property is owned by the QEII National Trust, which is now considering its options for the future of the land.

The property will be temporarily leased to local organisation TriOceans to use as a training facility. This will ensure there is a continued presence on the island until a longer-term arrangement is made.

AICT co-chair and treasurer Howard Smith noted a variety of reasons for the trust’s decision not to renew the lease. “There were a number of factors to take into consideration, not least the uncertainty over the long-term future of the island and the difficult trading conditions over the last three seasons due to Covid-19 restrictions, adverse weather events and road closures into Northland.”

“It is sad that our time as kaitiaki of the island has come to an end, but we know that now is the right time to relinquish the role. We would like to express our grateful thanks to the many people who have supported us over the years, including FNDC, DOC and with the constant support of Kaumātua Hugh Rihari and Ngāti Mau,” said Howard.

QEII Chair Bruce Wills acknowledged AICT for their care of the property over many years.

“It’s unfortunate that this period in Aroha Island’s history is coming to an end. The Aroha Island Charitable Trust were fantastic custodians of the land and many people from all over have had a chance to experience the specialness of Aroha Island,” said Bruce.

Aroha Island is traditionally closed to the public during the winter months and this will remain the case, with no public access provided for under the short-term lease with TriOceans.

QEII National Trust is in the process of considering long-term options for the island and will be engaging with community members and Ngāti Rangi ki Ngāwhā and their kaitiaki to the takutai moana, Ngāti Mau. QEII National Trust hopes that in future the island will remain as a community asset, reflecting its important biodiversity and cultural values and its connection with the community and education.

Bruce Wills emphasised the QEII open space covenant registered on the land, which provides very robust permanent legal protection over the biodiversity and cultural values of Aroha Island. “While Aroha Island now moves into a new chapter, the QEII covenant means its biodiversity and cultural values will be preserved for future generations,” said Bruce.

Aroha Island Charitable Trust co-chair Kathryn Pankhurst said the AICT members are saddened to be winding up operations, but proud of what they had achieved.

“Over the past 16 years, the Aroha Island Charitable Trust has been managing Aroha Island with the ongoing support of many local community volunteers, our members and trustees, to ensure the ongoing preservation and enhancement of the area for current and future generations to enjoy. A big thank you to all of them for the years of dedication. We also acknowledge the huge effort in those earlier years of the Trust and those that brought it to fruition,” said Kathryn.

Kathryn Pankhurst was also hopeful for the future of Aroha Island. “We know the island will continue to provide a habitat for our precious species and hope that any future managers will treat the island with the care and respect that we did, including provision of appropriate public access,” said Kathryn.