By far the smallest region of New Zealand, the Chatham Islands have a total population of about 600, many of whom are local born.
The economy of the Chatham Islands is heavily dependent on fishing, farming and tourism. The fishing industry generates 60% of the islands income. Farming is also economically important, as significant income is derived from breeding lambs and livestock for sale on the mainland.
The tourism industry, which is carefully controlled and monitored has seen positive spin-offs for the various communities on the islands, particularly through the creation of jobs.
There are three preschools for the under five’s on Chatham Island:
- Te Kohanga Reo at Te One,
- Playgroup at Te One and,
- An early childcare centre at Kaingaroa.
There are three primary schools on the islands: two on Chatham Island (Te One and Kaingaroa) and one on Pitt Island.
When it’s time for children to attend secondary school there are only two options: attending a secondary school on the mainland or correspondence school.
Most of the land on the Chatham Islands is privately owned and half of all households live in privately-owned accommodation. Most homes have a telephone and internet access. There is no cell phone coverage on the islands.
As it is in other parts of mainland New Zealand, housing is at a premium here on the Chathams. The shortage is mainly attributable to the availability and cost of land and the cost of freighting the building materials from the mainland. Freight alone can account for as much as an additional 40% on top of normal construction costs.
The costs of freight impacts on the price of groceries, fuel and electricity, compared to mainland NZ.
There are a full range of medical/health services available on the Chathams.
The Canterbury District Health Board runs the Chatham Islands Hospital (medical centre) in Waitangi and this is staffed by a GP and Registered Nurses. In addition, there is the Maori Community Health Service (Kokiri Centre).
A voluntary ambulance service is provided by St Johns. Emergency / Life flights are chartered as required. Specialist medical services are provided by the Canterbury District Health Board.
Sport and Recreation
There are a variety of sporting and recreational clubs on the Chatham Islands including netball, rugby, touch rugby, darts, golf and the gunclub.
In addition to regular club-based activities the islanders get together and celebrate on most public holidays.
The must-attend events on the Chatham Island social calendar are the;
- Chatham Islands Jockey Club Annual Race meetings (27 & 31 December plus one picnic day),
- Chatham Islands Yacht Club Fishing Competition 1st & 2nd January,
- Chatham Islands Festival (held each March), and the;
- Chatham Islands Pighunting and Eeling Competition which is held annually on the second weekend of the third term of school holidays (October).