The Kermadec Islands are located between the North Island and Tonga. The region is unique as it has both tropical and temperate climates, making it home to a huge range of underwater life, cetaceans, birds, turtles, and plant life. It's underwater volcanoes and deep-sea trench (Kermadec Trench) contribute to its unique features. The National Geographic Society and Census of Marine Life declared the Kermadecs one of the “last pristine sites in our oceans” in 2010.
Seismic activity such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and weather events such as cyclones and droughts, have shaped the composition of wildlife at the Kermadecs. An introduction of domestic species presented a challenge to both the flora and fauna of the islands.
Currently the island is managed by the small group of resident Department of Conservation staff and volunteers. They work hard to reduce the effects of weeds, exotic fruit, and other pest species. Recently, the plant fungus myrtle rust, was found on Raoul Island prompting DOC and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to take action to ensure it doesn’t spread to New Zealand. Myrtle rust has affected the pohutukawa plants and seedlings on Raoul Island, and could affect other iconic plants such as kanuka, manuka, and rata.
To learn more about the Kermadec Region, please visit the following:
DOC's website about visiting the Kermadec Islands here.
Myrtle Rust on Raoul Island here.
New Zealand Geographic's article Blue Water Islands here.
The Kermadec Marine Reserve
The no take Kermadec marine reserve covers 12 nautical miles around each island. This reserve is home to at least 35 species of whales and dolphins. A resident population of bottlenose dolphins frolic around the coast of Raoul Island, and regularly can be seen with the migrating humpback whales during the spring months. The Kermadecs were a prominent whaling area, with sperm whales, humpbacks, and southern right whales being hunted almost to the point of extinction.
Endangered turtles- the leatherback and green turtles, can be seen at these islands, which reflect the complex and diverse ecosystem that lies beneath the water’s surface.
To learn more about the Kermadecs Ocean Legacy, please visit the following:
PEW Kermadec Global Ocean Legacy here.
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary
The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will span 620,000 kilometres, making it the largest marine reserve in the world. The remote location of the islands presents the reserve with minimal impact on the fishing industry. There is low potential for oil and gas reserves. The sanctuary would protect the region from fishing and mining, exploration and prospect of mining activities.
The establishment of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is complex and ongoing. All stakeholders must be consulted before any Marine Protected Area (MPA) is established. An area of ocean or coastline has both economic and cultural significance. Therefore it has not been a straight forward to gain momentum in establishing this reserve.
To learn more about the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, please visit the following:
Ministry for the Environment Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary proposal here.
New Zealand Geographic's The Kermadec conundrum here.