Significance and Future

Motutapu mirrors much of New Zealand's history, from its geological origins to human settlement (Maori and European) of the Island.

The Island is a natural recreation reserve managed by Department of Conservation (DoC). The MRT has a formal partnership with DoC and has been working to a comprehensive working plan for restoration and interpretation of the Island's natural, cultural and historic values that is consistent with the Hauraki Gulf Conservation Management Strategy (CMS)


Motutapu's natural landscape includes geology, which is Jurassic in origin. It has an ecological history, which has evolved since the Rangitoto eruption some 600 years ago. Its natural landscape reflects the impact of both Maori and early European occupation. It is the home of more than 300 significant Maori archaeological sites and is rich in Maori culture and heritage, as well as early European farming settlement overlapping with more recent military occupational history. In addition, a working pastoral farm, practising sustainable farming techniques, operates alongside DoC and MRT.

Motutapu's physical connection with the iconic Rangitoto Island enhances its significance in the Hauraki Gulf. While Motutapu represents one of the oldest landforms in New Zealand, Rangitoto represents the youngest. Together they will create a wildlife sanctuary landmass about twenty times the size of Tiri Tiri Matangi, twice the size of Kapiti Island and significantly larger than Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), New Zealand's other major island wildlife sanctuaries. This sanctuary, which will be restocked with indigenous birds and wildlife, will have major benefits for biodiversity, tourism, education and Aucklander's quality of life.

The restoration effort on Motutapu is without parallel in New Zealand. Located on Auckland's doorstep, it provides sponsors and all New Zealanders an opportunity to leave a true legacy by creating the largest island sanctuary of its type in New Zealand.