Pitt Island, just like the larger Chatham Island, has had a chequered past and it has played host to the boom and bust cycles that the Chathams is famous for. Residents make their incomes through either farming, fishing and more recently, tourism.
Early settlers supplemented their income by providing provisions to the sealers and whalers that worked these waters back in the 1800s. One entrepreneurial character, the patriarch of the Island; Frederick Hunt also used the island as a smuggling base, trading goods (potatoes, vegetables and fresh meat) for Rum and Brandy directly off the American whalers avoiding the Kings duty. Read more…..
Moriori consider Pitt Island (Rangihaute / Rangiaote / Rangiauria ) to be the location of the original settlement of Moriori. Archaeological and scientific evidence seems to support this and there are still today plenty of evidence of old occupation of the island. Moriori contend that they settled the islands at roughly the same time as the ancestors of today’s Maori were settling mainland New Zealand.
When Maori took the island back in 1835, those Moriori that were living there were either killed, eaten, or taken into slavery. There is one story of ‘survival against the odds’ with the tale of Kochi “King of Pitt Island”. Read more……
The island was settled by Mr Frederick Hunt and his family around 1841. There are plenty of stories of how he purchased the island from a Maori Chief at Owenga. There are also stories around of how he was avoiding on-going bad blood between him and a man named McClutchie.
There is an informative site here>> that covers quite a bit about the Hunt and Gregory-Hunt family of Pitt Island, although we will look at that soon.
When North Island Maori: Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga ‘invaded” the Chatham Islands in 1835, Pitt Island was also taken. Those Moriori that were living there were either killed, eaten or taken as slaves.