Doing business on Chatham Islands

Chatham Islanders are a very resourceful and entrepreneurial group of people. With a limited customer base and their main markets located on the mainland, doing business requires significant skills in relationship building and partnerships. It also requires business partners to commit to long term outcomes.


The Chatham Islands Council operates as both a district and regional council. This means that the council is not only responsible for roads and waste management, but also for resource management and bio-security.


The Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust was established in 1991 with the aid of an $8 million government grant and the transfer of central assets such as the ports, airport and electricity generation.  The Trust’s main objective is to promote the economic development and well-being of the community.

The Trust exists to provide essential commercial enterprises that would not otherwise be provided in such a small and remote community.

Economy and Industry

The Chatham Islanders are economically dependent on fishing, farming and more recently; tourism.


Over two thirds of the Chatham Island’s population has a school or post-school qualification. The median age is 37 years.

Internet and Communications

Most Chatham Islands households have telephones and fax capabilities and dial-up or satellite broadband internet access.

There is no cell phone coverage on the Chatham Islands.

TVNZ can be viewed on the islands along with commercial TV networks. There is also a locally owned and volunteer operated Chatham Islands Television which has its own distinctive must-view characteristics.

The “Chatham Islander” is a monthly newspaper which keeps islanders up to date with local news and shipping activities.  Most islanders utilise the internet for weather forecasts and news updates.

Visitors can access the internet through WiFi at most of the Chatham Islands accommodation providers.