Matiatia Bay is the gateway to Waiheke Island. For centuries it has been the landing place for travellers in the Hauraki Gulf - from waka?to yachts, excursion steamers and commuter ferries.
Now Matiatia finds itself at a crossroads - this beautiful heritage site is also a transport hub for the island. The pressure for development is real, yet the bay's historical significance must be respected. Waiheke residents, urban planners, the Auckland Council, shipping operators and other local industry all have a keen interest in what happens next at Matiatia.
Understanding the past is crucial to the decisions being made today. Waiheke historian Paul Monin tells the story of Matiatia from occupation at the time of the first Maori settlement of Aotearoa to the present day. Here in a fertile bay in the magnificent setting of the Hauraki Gulf is a microcosm of New Zealand's history. Charmingly written, Matiatia: Gateway to Waiheke explores the area's archaeology, politics, ecology and society, illustrated with a rich selection of photographs and maps.
This 144page soft cover book started off as a little intimidating, however within the first chapter "Uncovering the history of the land" I was hooked and didn't move from my chair until I had read this book cover to cover. An absolutely totally engrossing and incredibly well written account of the history of the bay of Matiatia on Waiheke Island going back to the earliest possible known settlement and use of Waiheke by the Maori right up to present day 2012.
Having only visited Waiheke Island once (and I must profess to having known very little about the island prior to my visit) I really wish I had read this book first. Covering not just the historical aspects of the island author Paul Monin gives a very accurate, and incredibly well researched document, of the history of Matiatia Bay and its ownership by various whenua and how over time that ownership passed from the original owners to be subdivided and subdivided until eventually only one small area remained in Maori ownership and the process of subdivision for profit led to increased demand on the island for ferry services. This demand has come not only from those owning property but from the visitors who every year have increased in numbers (a staggering 1.6 million in 2010).
I really enjoyed learning about the history of Waiheke especially as it developed from the early 1800's to the present day and I liked the way Monin was able to weave the social and political issues of the time in with the development of the island. Although very factual it wasn't dry and lifeless like some texts can be and was a very enjoyable and informative read. This book has a well referenced endnote and list of maps and index. It really brought this book alive having so many maps and photos scattered thrrough the text as well as many anecdotes about the use of Matiatia Bay and its surrounds.
Whilst the focus of this book is Matiatia Bay, Monin does explore the impact other areas of the island have on Matiatia Bay. This does appear to be the inspiration for this book and this comes across as a very well written and well formed basis for discussion about "where to next" in the development of Ferry services to the island to meet the ever increasing demand from locals and visitors alike on the two serviced wharves. Matiatia Bay is such an integral part of the history and culture of Waiheke Island that Monin has successfully managed to present the facts, as they are, to form a basis for what is likely to be a very emotive and divisive consultation process in the coming years over Matiatia Bay's future.
I would recommend that every resident ( and house owner) of Waiheke Island reads this. Indeed if Paul Monin's other book Waiheke Island: A History is as good as this they are both invaluable reads. I will certainly be locating and reading this and his other published work Hauraki Contested. A very, very well researched and written book that I hope will be read by all who are involved in any decisions pertaining to Matiatia Bay.
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