Peter Jackson's hi-tech plans for Wellington's Matiu Island tourism

Matiu/Somes Island, with Wellington City behind.

Matiu/Somes Island, with Wellington City behind.

An island in Wellington Harbour is set to be turned into a hi-tech tourist attraction by Sir Peter Jackson.

Matiu/Somes Island, which is now a predator-free scientific reserve, was New Zealand's first inner harbour lighthouse and has been a human quarantine station, an internment camp, military defence position, and an animal quarantine station.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) chairman Neville Baker said he met with Jackson to discuss how his Wellington-based production companies could create a world-class tourism offering on the island.

Sir Peter Jackson looks set to work on a joint tourism project with the  Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust to ...

Sir Peter Jackson looks set to work on a joint tourism project with the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust to digitally tell the Maori history of Wellington on Somes Island.

The movie mogul had committed to investigate a joint project with the Weta Group using digital storytelling and the latest in virtual and augmented reality technology.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust closing on Shelly Bay sale
Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust fails to sell Shelly Bay to Wellington Company

The project would examine what life was like for the island's first Maori inhabitants and encompass the stories and history of the Taranaki Whanui tikanga through digital storytelling and augmented reality.

Octane a southern giant petrel is coaxed out of a box byJo Webby a vet nurse at Wellington Zoo at his release on Matiu ...

Octane a southern giant petrel is coaxed out of a box byJo Webby a vet nurse at Wellington Zoo at his release on Matiu island.

The trust, which helps manage the island. would seek support from the Government's Maori ICT Fund for the project. Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori (Maori Language Commission) would be approached to help develop the story telling.

Matiu/Somes Island, which is connected by a 20-minute ferry ride from downtown Wellington, as well as Petone, Days Bay and Seatoun, was already growing in popularity as a tourism destination and educational resource with more than 15,000 visitors a year, Baker said.

"Through a project like this we can demonstrate Taranaki Whanui's collective identity and build pride and kotahitanga through our whole community."

The tourism proposal would complement the partnership between the work of the The Matiu/Somes Island Charitable Trust which worked closely with DOC and groups like the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, to the island's environment and maintain its pest-free status since 1989, he said.

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DOC Kapiti and Wellington area office operations manager Carl Baker said they did not feel the project would compromise the values of the island.

"In fact, it will only enhance the visitor experience and understanding of the island's rich human and ecological history.

"More importantly, it is a fantastic opportunity for iwi who own the island to tell their story."

Wingnut Films Productions general manager Dominic Sheehan said the current agreement with PNBST was to investigate ways forward ahead of a full feasibility study.

"The idea potentially involves using various media, including digital storytelling and the latest in virtual and augmented reality technology, to tell stories about the Maori history of Wellington and Taranaki Whanui."

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) destination and marketing general manager Adele Fitzpatrick said the fledgling project was an "exciting proposal" which would "have significant international tourism appeal and be a boost to Wellington's economy".

Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace said the council supported the project for the Island, which came under its responsibility.

Extra tourists could mean it would need it's own ferry, he said

The island was transferred to Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika under its Treaty of Waitangi Settlement in 2009.

The management of the island remains shared between local government, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and PNBST as the operational body for Taranaki Whanui.


All sorts of ideas are cooking away as city leaders and businesses work to cement Wellington's position as a world-class destination.

  • Mountain biking: New group Wellington Trails Trust launched this year with plans to develop the city's mountain biking trails into family friendly tracks and rough terrain rides. Pre-election, the Council was eyeing mountain-biking and trail-running as likely future targets of its recreation funding, following a spend-up on the city's pools.
  • Seaside Ride: A seaside cycleway connecting Wellington's inner-city bays from the Miramar cutting to Waitangi Park already has a green light. The Great Harbour Way programme will include more work on cycleways for the eastern suburbs, including a Kilbirnie to Newtown connection, with construction expected in 2018/19, costing $37.2 million over four years.
  • Movie museum: Wellington City Councillors voted in favour of a fish design for the planned $150 million dollar movie museum and convention centre. The Movie Museum would include Hobbit and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson's extensive collection of film memorabilia. It's expected to open in 2018.
  • Hot-pools: Oriental Bay could become home to outdoor hot pools, if the Better Te Aro Collective can make its dreams a reality. The collective of business movers and shakers wants a hot-pool complex to be installed in between Freyberg Pool and the harbour, where the old open-air saltwater Te Aro Baths used to be. The idea has been put to the council, which would have to agree to the proposal as the suggested site is on publicly-owned waterfront land.
  • Runway extension: Wellington International Airport's $300 million runway extension isn't taking flight just yet. The airport wants permission to extend the runway so that it can host more direct long-haul flights between Wellington and Asia. The controversial proposal is at the resource consent application stage, but has been paused as the airport wanted time to review the public submissions.
  • Laneways: The city's back alleys ave been getting a makeover, attracting comparisons to Melbourne. Wine and dining spots Hannah's Laneway, Egmont St, Bond St and Edward St are notable developments. Cable Car Lane is also in the midst of getting a $1.5 million facelift among the 72 city laneways being revitalised by the Council and local businesses.
  • Retail: The only David Jones in the country came to the capital this year, in what was seen as a major coup for the city's retail sector. The Australian import took over the old Kirkcaldie and Stains buildings and opened to Wellingtonians this July, and has also been touted as a destination for the cruise ship visitor dollar, as "Kirks" once was.



 - Stuff


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