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Island Bay, New Zealand


Island Bay, New Zealand

Island Bay
Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand
Island Bay
Island Bay (New Zealand Wellington)
Basic information
Local authority Wellington City
Date established 1879
Population 6,951 (2006 [1])
North Berhampore
Northeast Melrose
East Southgate
Southeast Houghton Bay
South Cook Strait
Southwest Ōwhiro Bay
West Kingston
Northwest Mornington

Island Bay is a coastal suburb of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, situated 5 km south of the city centre.

Island Bay lies on the bay which shares its name, one of numerous small bays west of Lyall Bay. 500m offshore in Island Bay lies Tapu Te Ranga Island, which forms a natural breakwater and provides a sheltered anchorage for local fishing boats.

Noted current Island Bay residents include Bruce Stewart, writer and dramatist at Tapu Te Ranga Marae, and Wellington's Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown.[2] Former residents include Middlesbrough F.C. and All Whites striker Chris Killen, artist John Drawbridge, poet Alan Brunton and writer Robin Hyde.


  • History 1
  • Notable features 2
  • Island Bay Festival 3
  • Arts and Culture 4
  • Schools 5
  • Gallery 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Tapu te Ranga Island is said to be Patawa, a point from which the legendary Maori chief Kupe sighted the giant octopus Te Wheke-a-Muturangi, which he pursued across Cook Strait.[3] In pre-European times, Island Bay was home to several pa, including Te Mupunga Kainga, today represented with a pou in Shorland Park.[4] A succession of iwi occupied Island Bay, including Ngai Tara, Ngati Ira. During a battle in which Ngati Mutunga drove Ngati Ira from Wellington in 1827, Tamairangi, the wife of the Ngati Ira chief, is said to have sought refuge on Tapu te Ranga Island with her children, fleeing by canoe when Tapu te Ranga Island was besieged.[5] In Treaty of Waitangi settlements, both Te Atiawa and Ngati Toa have claimed tangata whenua status over Tapu te Ranga Island. Ngati Toas case was proven in the Maori Land Court[6]

In the early days of European settlement

  • Empire Cinema, Island Bay
  • Island Bay Festival & Community information
  • Island Bay School
  • Island Bay Marine Education Centre
  • Photos tagged "Island Bay" at Flickr
  • SinkF69 - Information and pictures about the wreck diving attraction
  • South Coast Gallery Website
  • Taputeranga Marine Reserve
  • Victoria University Coastal Ecology Lab
  • Wellington City Libraries Island Bay page

External links

  1. ^ The population is the sum of the figures for the census areas of Island Bay West (Quickstats about Island Bay West) and Island Bay East (Quickstats about Island Bay East)
  2. ^ Nichols, Lane (14 October 2010). "Capital goes green and cuddly".  
  3. ^ "The jewel that is Rat Island". 2009-01-28. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  4. ^ [6]
  5. ^ Robinson, J (2006), "The Battles of Tapu te Ranga" in "Southern Bays" No. 2, 2006, The Wellington Southern Bays Historical Society Inc, Wellington
  6. ^ [7]
  7. ^ Irvine-Smith, F.L (1948), The Streets of My City: Wellington New Zealand, AH & AW Reed, Wellington, pp.261
  8. ^ a b c Chapman, Katie (7 January 2010). "Story of a suburb: Island Bay".  
  9. ^ "Erskine College (Former)". Register of Historic Places.  
  10. ^ [8]
  11. ^ [9]
  12. ^ "Home - Wellington South Baptist Church". 2014-02-07. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  13. ^ "Welcome to St Francis de Sales Catholic Parish". Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  14. ^ [10]
  15. ^ "Island Bay snorkel trail a first for Wellington". 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  16. ^ Sims, Rowan (April 2010). "Village by the Sea" FishHead, Wellington, p50-55.
  17. ^ "Boats, Island Bay - Rita Angus: Life and Vision - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa". Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  18. ^ "To my fellow cinephiles, gelato lovers... - Empire Cinema & Cafe". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  19. ^ "Jacket 18 - Murray Edmond: Alan Brunton, 1946–2002: A Memoir". Retrieved 2014-02-18. 



Island Bay School is a zoned decile 10 state primary school, teaching boys and girls from years 1 to 6. St Frances de Sales School is a Catholic decile 9 state primary school, teaching boys and girls from years 1 to 8.


  • Freya Elkink, artist, resides in Island Bay. Her art form mostly composes of artistic impressionism, placing popular Wellington faces into less than likely situations.
  • Chris Visser-Fee, comedian, was raised, and continues to live in Island bay, where he regularly performs comedic routines, many known for their slapstick appeal.
Alan Brunton and Sally Rodwell of the Red Mole experimental theatre group, were based in Island Bay from 1988 until Brunton's death in 2002.[19]
  • Red Mole, theatre
Rock frontmen Andrew Fagan of the Mockers and Jon Toogood of Shihad grew up in Island Bay. Samuel Flynn Scott, Conrad Wedde and Richie Singleton of New Zealand group The Phoenix Foundation also live in the suburb.
  • Music
Michael McCormack is an Irish-born painter who works from his studio and gallery in Island Bay, painting vivid streetscapes and coastal scenes around Wellington.
  • Michael McCormack, artist
Laura Garland lives in Island Bay, and paints colourful Wellington and New Zealand scenes.
  • Laura Garland, artist
The art deco Empire Theatre screened films between 1925 and 1964. It was reopened as the Empire Cinema in 2005, but has since shutdown again in October 2013. It may reopen in the future [18]
  • Empire Cinema, film
While living in Wellington in the 1960s, Rita Angus painted a number of scenes in Island Bay. Boats, Island Bay is one of her best-loved paintings.[17]
  • Rita Angus, artist

Arts and Culture

On the final Sunday of the festival the younger members of the community bring their Teddy Bears for a special picnic in Shorland Park!
  • The Teddy Bears Picnic
Proceeding down The Parade to Shorland Park, the Festival Parade features a colourful 'dressing of the bicycles' competition.
  • The Festival Parade
Participants are ferried by boat to the Island, and swim the few hundred metres back to shore.
  • The swim from the Island
A Soapbox derby down the steep Ribble Street attracts budding racecar drivers with Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Expert categories, the latter often reaching 65 km/h.
  • The Ribble Street Races
The Blessing of the Boats is a southern Italian tradition where boats are decorated with flags and blessed by a priest to protect the crew from the sea and to bring good fortune. The ceremony has been adopted in Island Bay since 1933, when the fishing boat Santina foundered in Cook Strait, with the loss of four crew including three Italians. A chair was unveiled on 13 February 2011, during the Island Bay Festival for the crew of the Santina, presented by friends and family of the four casualties.[16]
  • The Blessing of the Boats

The annual Island Bay Festival takes place over eight days each February. Festival highlights include:

Shorland Park band rotunda during the 2012 Island Bay Festival
Blessing of the Boats ceremony during the 2012 Island Bay Festival

Island Bay Festival

Island Bay is the starting point for two recreational walkways that cross the city. The City to Sea Walkway runs 12km between Parliament and Island Bay through the Botanic Gardens and Aro Valley. The 11km Southern Walkway follows the Town Belt between Island Bay and Oriental Bay.
  • Walkways
Victoria University of Wellington maintains an active research and teaching presence on Wellington's south coast at the Victoria University Coastal Ecology Laboratory, which overlooks the spectacular exposed rocky reef systems typical of Cook Strait.
Tapu Te Ranga Motu, the island in the middle of the bay, once served as a refuge of local Maori. Tamairanga, the wife of the Ngati Ira chief Whanake, escaped to the island with her children during a battle that forced the tribe from Wellington Harbour.[8]
  • Tapu Te Ranga Motu (the Island)
The waters surrounding Island Bay are under the protection of the Department of Conservation since the creation of the 854 hectare Taputeranga Marine Reserve in 2006. The reserve is home to kelp forests, octopuses, blue cod and banded wrasse. Dolphins and whales also frequent the area. A 200m 'snorkel trail' within the reserve starts and finishes in Island Bay.[15]
  • Taputeranga Marine Reserve
Situated in 50 acres of replanted native forest on a hill near Rhine Street, Tapu Te Ranga Marae is a living Marae and the home of Bruce Stewart. The 2500 square metre wooden house extends over 10 levels, and was built with recycled materials.
Shorland Park is a small public park at Island Bay Beach. The playground includes a mock wooden ship and is a favourite for children's birthday parties.
  • Shorland Park
Two diving companies operate in Island Bay, and offer trips within the local Taputeranga Marine Reserve and to the wreck of HMNZS Wellington, a decommissioned Royal New Zealand Navy frigate which was sunk off the coast of Island Bay in November 2005 to create an artificial reef.
  • Scuba diving
The Band Rotunda in Shorland Park near the waterfront was built in 1930. Plaques record the 152 local soldiers who died in World War I and World war II, and the loss of American submarines and their crew in the Pacific. In the 1930s, local brass bands and the Salvation Army frequently played in the rotunda. The rotunda is now used for occasional concerts, notably during the annual Island Bay Festival.
  • Rotunda
  • Roads, many named after rivers, mainly in Great Britain.
There are four churches in Island Bay. The oldest is the Anglican church,[11] which is over 100 years old. It has a traditional brick front design, and some stained glass windows honouring the early settlers. It is named after St Hilda of Whitby, as the early settlers felt the coastline resembled Northumbria. The Baptist,[12] Catholic [13] and Presbyterian [14] churches are younger. The churches have facilities that are used for a range of community groups. Church activities include a full range of programmes for all ages, including the annual Teddy Bear's picnic for children which forms part of the Island Bay festival.
  • Churches
The Island Bay Marine Education Centre on the foreshore has a small aquarium and touch tank, and is open to the public on alternate Sundays.
  • Island Bay Marine Education Centre
Designed by John Sydney Swan and built in 1904-6, The Convent of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic girls' boarding school, was renamed Erskine College in the late 1960s after the former Superior General Mother Janet Erskine Stuart. The adjacent Erskine Chapel of the Sacred Heart, also designed by John Sydney Swan, was built in 1930 in the French Gothic style. Erskine Chapel is considered to have one of the finest chapel interiors in New Zealand, and is listed as Category I in New Zealand's Historic Places Trust.[9] The school closed in 1985 and today the complex is privately owned.[8] Erskine College was used as a location in Peter Jackson's 1996 film The Frighteners. The chapel was refurbished in 2003, and is now a popular venue for weddings and concerts.[10]
  • Erskine College and Chapel
Panorama of view across most of residential Island Bay
Panorama of City To Sea Walkway, showing Island Bay on the right

Notable features

This included the subdivision of the Island Bay Racecourse which was once bounded by Clyde Street on the East and Ribble Street on the West. Many streets in Island Bay were named after British and European rivers. [8] In the late 19th century, Island Bay was settled by Italian and Shetlander fishermen. In 1905, Wellington's tramline was extended to Island Bay, increasing the area's popularity, and steadily transforming it into a seaside suburb. Many Island Bay villas, bungalows and shops date from the 1920s, a period of rapid development for the area.[7]

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