Landsat image of the island, August 2002.
|Archipelago||New Zealand archipelago|
|Area||92 km2 (35.5 sq mi)|
|Length||19.3 km (11.99 mi)|
|Width||0.64–9.65 km (0.40–6.00 mi)|
|Coastline||133.5 km (82.95 mi)|
|Highest elevation||231 m (758 ft)|
|Regional Council||Auckland Region|
|Population||8,730 (as of 2011)|
|Density||94.89 /km2 (245.76 /sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||New Zealanders|
The island is the second-largest in the Hauraki Gulf after Great Barrier Island. It is the most populated, with nearly 8,730 permanent residents plus another estimated 3,400 who have second or holiday homes on the island. It is New Zealand's most densely populated island, with 83.58 people/km², and the third most populated after the North and South Island. It is the most accessible offshore island in the Gulf, due to regular passenger and car ferry services, a Waiheke-based helicopter operator, and some other air links.
Waiheke translates as "the descending waters" or "ebbing water". This refers to an event when Maori explorer Kahumatamomoe landed on the island and urinated. The name originally referred only to the stream at Onetangi, but now is used to refer to the entire island.
Waiheke Island is off the coast of the North Island. The island is 19.3 km (12.0 mi) long from west to east, varies in width from 0.64 to 9.65 km (0.40 to 6.00 mi), and has a surface area of 92 km2 (36 sq mi). The coastline is 133.5 km (83.0 mi), including 40 km (25 mi) of beaches. The port of Matiatia at the western end of the island is 17.7 km (11.0 mi) from Auckland and the eastern end is 21.4 km (13.3 mi) from Coromandel. The much smaller Tarahiki Island lies 3 km (1.9 mi) to the east. Waiheke is very hilly with few flat areas, the highest point being Maunganui at 231 m (758 ft). The climate is slightly warmer than Auckland, with less humidity and rain and more sunshine hours.
Waiheke has several locations of interest to geologists, namely an argillite outcrop in Omiha Bay and a chert stack at the end of Pohutukawa Point, the latter considered as "one of the best exposures of folded chert in Auckland City".
Waiheke Island has many scenic beaches all around the island. They include:
- Oneroa Beach – The main beach, located along the northern side of the town of Oneroa.
- Little Oneroa Beach – A small secluded beach at the east end of Oneroa Beach, separated by a protruding cliff wall.
- Palm Beach – Similar in shape to Oneroa Beach (complete with protruding cliff wall on the east end that separates a small private beach in Boatshed Bay), it gets its name from the mature phoenix palms at the east end.
- Little Palm Beach – A small clothes-optional beach at the west end of Palm Beach.
- Blackpool Beach – The south-facing counterpart of Oneroa Beach, lining Blackpool and popular for kayaking and windsurfing.
- Surfdale Beach – A zoned-in beach on the southern side of Surfdale, separated from Blackpool Beach by a small protruding peninsula, which has a scenic unsealed route called The Esplanade linking the beaches. Popular for kitesurfing.
- Onetangi Beach – A 1.87 km long, north-facing beach lining Onetangi. For many years it has been the site of the Onetangi Beach Races. Its western (and often inaccessible end at high tide) is clothes-optional. It has sandcastle building contests annually; participants have a few hours to build their creations in soft sand which is free of shells and suitable for digging.
- Cactus Bay – Considered by many Waihekeans as the island's most perfect beach and, with nearby Garden Cove, a romantic place for picnicking. The beach is accessible only by boat or kayak, as its land access was blocked off by a private landowner.
Waiheke has a resident population of 8,730 people (2011) with most of the population living close to the western end of the island, or near the isthmus between Huruhi Bay and Oneroa Bay which, at its narrowest, is only 600 metres wide. The settlements of Oneroa and Blackpool are the furthest west, followed by Palm Beach, Surfdale, and Ostend. Further east lies Onetangi, which is located on the northern coast on the wide Onetangi Bay. To the south of this on the opposing coast is Whakanewha Regional Park, Whakanewha and Omiha, or Rocky Bay. Much of the eastern half of the island is privately owned farmland and vineyards.
Waiheke Island is a popular holiday spot, and during the main summer season, especially around Christmas and Easter, the population on the island increases substantially due to the number of holiday homes being rented out, corporate functions and dance parties at vineyards and restaurants, the Wine Festival and the Jazz Festival and weekend trippers from around the country and the world. It is safe to say the population increases significantly, rents go up, almost all homes and baches are full and a festive atmosphere exists.
Social composition 
Waiheke Island demographic composition is 82% European, 12% Maori, 4% Pacific Islander and 2% Asian. 27% of residents were born outside New Zealand.
Socially the island is highly diverse, with the creative sector (artists, musicians, scientists, writers, poets and actors) and eccentrics strongly represented. The island has 1,206 businesses but around two thousand people commute daily to Auckland for work as career opportunities on the island are limited. 63% of the residents are in employment. The main employment sectors are hospitality (23%) and retail (15%) followed by education, agriculture/horticulture and healthcare (10% each). Gentrification and land speculation is having an impact, with high rates and mortgage interest rates forcing some people on fixed incomes to relocate off the island. New Zealand council rates are based on land and building valuations, which take into account potential value for redevelopment even if the owners live on the property and have no intention to sell or redevelop. The cost of living on the island is higher compared to the mainland, due to the shipping freight costs of most foodstuffs, fuel and amenities.
The income distribution (2001 Census) shows a higher proportion of lower income groups and a lower proportion of higher income groups, compared to the whole of Auckland City. This is partially due to a higher number of pensioners and single parent families who are usually on fixed incomes and poorer. In 2001, the median income for those older than 15 was $15,600 compared to $23,500 in 2006. In 2011 the median household income was $38,725, considerably lower than the Auckland median at $63,387 due to a larger number of pensioners over 65 in the demographic pyramid. The increase in wealth on Waiheke is also reflected in the number of families earning more than $100,000 per year, which has more than doubled in 2007 since 2001.
Māori relations 
Race relations are supportive, by New Zealand standards. The local marae was not ancestral Māori land held in Māori title but belonged to the Waiheke County Council. Its citizens, both Pākehā and Māori, got together, arranged for a long-term lease of council-owned land and built the marae. One of the earliest Māori land claims was driven by Waiheke citizens, who at the time did not know who the tangata whenua Māori were for the island.
Waiheke Island is part of the territorial authority of Auckland City. From 1970 until its amalgamation with Auckland City in 1989, it was administered by the Waiheke County Council. Since 1989 there is a locally elected community board with limited, mainly representational powers, in line with other neighbourhoods in Auckland City. One member on the City Council represents all the inhabited Hauraki Gulf Islands (i.e. Waiheke, Great Barrier and Rakino) plus the downtown area in the central business district.
Amalgamation with Auckland City 
In 1989, the former Waiheke County Council was forcibly amalgamated with Auckland City Council as part of Local Government restructuring of that year. Pundits predicted a stormy relationship.
In 1990 the Waiheke Community Board formally requested the right to de-amalgamate from the City. A 'De-amalgamation Committee' was established by Council to facilitate the Board's wish. However, this proved not to be to the liking of most of the new Auckland citizenry. In 1991, the city responded to a campaign run by a pro-union group, the Waiheke Island Residents & Ratepayers Association (Inc) by holding a democratic referendum. The de-amalgamation proposal sponsored by the Community Board was defeated.
The subject of amalgamation is still a hot topic on the island. In 2008, the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance received 3,537 submissions, 615 of which were made by Waihekeans, over 1/6 of all submissions. A public meeting of 150 residents on 29 March 2008 found a majority in favour of breaking away from Auckland City.
The Royal Commission recommended that Waiheke Island retain its community board with enhanced powers. The Waiheke Local Board was elected in the October 2010 Auckland local elections as part of the Auckland Council.
The 2010 local elections resulted in Waiheke resident Mike Lee becoming the Councillor for the Waitemata and Gulf Ward. Denise Roche, Faye Storer, Jo Holmes, Don McKenzie and Jim Hannan were elected to the new Local Board. After Roche's resignation after becoming a member of parliament for the Green Party of New Zealand in 2011, Paul Walden was elected in a by-election.
A number of scheduled ferry services (passenger and freight) sail to and from Waiheke. Fullers runs the main passenger ferry between Matiatia and downtown Auckland, with trips taking about 40 minutes. Sea Link provides passenger, car and freight services between Half Moon Bay in East Auckland and Kennedy Point. Trips take about 50 minutes.
Air Service 
There are two companies permanently based on Waiheke Island. Flight Hauraki operates a fixed wing service and HeliScene is the helicopter operator. Both provide transfers, scenic flights and tours from the island.
The island has less infrastructure than mainland Auckland. The roads are mainly narrow and in many places unsealed and unlit, especially on the eastern half of the island. The Waiheke Bus Company (owned by Fullers) services most inhabited parts of the island, linking to the ferry sailings from Matiatia.
Waiheke is connected to the national electricity network by twin 33 kV undersea cables from Maraetai on the mainland (which is ultimately connected to Transpower's national grid at Takanini). Each house must maintain its own water supply, most collecting rainwater in cisterns, and must install a septic tank and septic field to handle sewage. This is a requirement in every building consent.
The community established a charitable trust which bid on Auckland City's contract for solid waste disposal. After winning the bid, it was implemented with such success that the recycling centre soon had to be expanded to handle the volumes.
The island has a lively press, with two weekly newspapers vying for attention: the long-established independently-owned Waiheke Gulf News and the Fairfax Media owned Waiheke Marketplace. A community radio station, Waiheke Radio, is broadcasting on 88.3 FM and 107.4 FM after Beach FM lost its licence in a commercial bid in 2008.
Waiheke Island has two primary schools: Waiheke Primary School in Ostend serves Years 1 to 8 and has around 210 students, and Te Huruhi School in Surfdale serves Years 1 to 6 and has around 390 students. The island also has a secondary school, Waiheke High School, located in Surfdale adjacent to Te Huruhi School which serves Years 7 to 13 and has around 470 students.
Significant events 
Stony Batter WWII fortifications 
During World War II, three gun emplacements were built on the eastern edge of Waiheke to protect Allied shipping in Waitemata Harbour, in the fear that Japanese ships might reach all the way to New Zealand. This mirrored developments at North Head and Rangitoto Island. The guns were never fired in anger. The empty emplacements and the extensive tunnels below them can be visited seven days a week.
Nuclear and GE free zone 
Waiheke Island was the first community in New Zealand to vote for a nuclear free zone and this action is said to have contributed to the national decision to become nuclear-free under David Lange's government.
In 1999 Waiheke's community board voted Waiheke as a "genetic engineering free zone", but this is a matter of principle rather than fact, as only national government controls exist over genetically engineered foods and grains.
Matiatia redevelopment 
The Gateway to Waiheke Island where the primary pedestrian ferry lands over 1 million passengers per year is a valley and harbour called Matiatia. In 2000 it was purchased by three investors in a company called Waitemata Infrastructure Ltd (WIL). In 2002 WIL proposed to change the Operative District Plan rules for their land to build a major shopping and hotel complex with 29,000 m² of gross floor area on buildable land of approximately 3 hectares. This united the residents of the island in opposition. Over 1,500 adult residents of the island (out of perhaps 3,000) joined together in an incorporated society, the Community and People of Waiheke Island (CAPOW), to oppose the private plan change in court.
In 2004, they won an interlocutory judgement in which the environment court ruled that Auckland City Council had erred in the rules, and the current rules limited controlled development to 5,000 m² in what was called the Visitor Facility Precinct. In 2005, CAPOW won an interim judgement by the court which reduced the proposed redevelopment to about 1/3 of what the investors had originally sought.
This set the stage for confidential negotiations between Auckland's mayor Dick Hubbard and the investors, who on 31 August 2005 (now known as 'Matiatia Day' on the island) sold 100% of the stock in WIL to the city for $12.5 million. The unanimous vote on 30 June 2005 of the City Council to approve the purchase was said to have come about because of the unity of the people of Waiheke Island. The court case finally was concluded with permitted development set at 10,000 m2 of mixed use gross floor development. The Court also found Auckland City Council and WIL liable for costs in relationship to the interlocutory judgement. Since WIL was now owned by Council, it had to write a cheque for to CAPOW for $18,000, representing 75% of CAPOW's costs on that matter. This final cheque allowed CAPOW to pay all its debts and balance its books.
The Council organised a design competition in 2006 to find a suitable development plan and project for the Matiatia gateway. The competition winner's design (scheme 201) is available for comment on the Council website. It has already attracted much criticism for the lack of car parking close to the ferry terminal, the transport hub function used by all islanders regularly and almost daily by around 850 commuters to Auckland.
Foot and mouth disease 
In May 2005, in a suspected capping stunt, a letter was sent to the New Zealand Prime Minister claiming that foot and mouth disease had been released on Waiheke Island and would be released elsewhere unless money was paid and tax reforms made. A full agricultural exotic disease response was initiated. No livestock were allowed to enter or leave the island. Stock on Waiheke Island was tested every 48 hours for symptoms of the virus, which would devastate New Zealand's agricultural exports. After three weeks of testing, no infected animals were detected and the response staff were stood down.
Headland: Sculpture on the Gulf 
Waiheke has become internationally known for its biannual event Headland: Sculpture on the Gulf, an “outdoor sculpture exhibition set on a spectacular coastal walkway on Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf”. It takes place towards the end of January until approximately mid February every other year. It was listed by the New York Times as no. 35 in its list of 46 must see places and events for 2013. The sculpture walk attracts thousands of visitors to Waiheke, for example, more than 30,000 people walked the sculpture walk in 2013.
Waiheke Island has become known as New Zealand's "island of wine," home to a dedicated group of winegrowers who have successfully matched the maritime climate and ancient soil structures to the selection of classical grape varieties to produce red and white wines with distinctive varietal character.
Waiheke's climate are well suited to growing Bordeaux wine-type grapes, though some Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc varieties are also considered to be good. Waiheke winegrowers regularly win awards for Syrah, proving the island's terroir suits it well.
- Awaroa Vineyard – The organic Awaroa vineyards lie on west-facing slopes among native bush in the middle of Waiheke Island. Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are the main varieties planted.
- Cable Bay Vineyards – Cable Bay Vineyards makes wines from grapes grown on Waiheke Island and in Marlborough. Varieties grown include Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Five Hills Merlot/Malbec/Cabernet and Rosé.
- Destiny Bay Vineyards – Destiny Bay is Waiheke Island's only Cabernet blend specialist and first fully certified sustainable winery. The 2007 Magna Praemia is New Zealand's highest rated wine by an international critic, and received 98/100 points by Anthony Dias Blue.
- Edbrooke Vineyard – Jeremy Edbrooke has over 7 acres (28,000 m2) planted in Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Pinot gris grapes which are supplied to Waiheke Island's Passage Rock Wines.
- Fenton Estate – First planted in 1989, Fenton Twin Bays Vineyard is a north-facing property that spans two small bays separated by a peninsula.
- Goldwater Estate – Begun by pioneering Waiheke winemakers Kim and Jeanette Goldwater, Goldwater Estate was among the first wine making operations on Waiheke. Its awards include being named winery of the year by Wines and Spirits Magazine in 2001.
- Isola Estate – Isola Estate has its vineyard in the Onetangi area.
- Jurassic Ridge – Jurassic Ridge is a small, family-owned vineyard and winery, named for the surrounding geology. It produces hand-crafted Syrah, Montepulciano, Pinot gris and Cabernet Franc. Jurassic greywacke is a major feature of the terroir.
- Kennedy Point Vineyard – Kennedy Point Vineyard is on the southwestern side and was established in 1996. It specializes in growing and producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah wines.
- Man o'War – Situated at the northern end of Waiheke Island, the Man o'War vineyards are planted on numerous small sites on the 5,000-acre (20 km2) Man o'War farm.
- Miro Vineyard – Miro Vineyard produces two wines, both red Bordeaux blends. The vineyard overlooks the ocean at Onetangi Beach.
- Mudbrick Vineyard – Mudbrick is one of the Waiheke's best known wineries and has a Provence-style restaurant made of mudbrick. The vineyard produces Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah grapes.
- Obsidian Vineyard – Obsidian Vineyard in Onetangi. It is a 17-hectare property established in 1993. Obsidian, its flagship wine, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Its label is "Weeping Sands" (the translation of "Onetangi"). In 2007 Obsidian won a trophy and gold medal at the Romeo Bragato National Wine Competition for its first release of the Montepulciano variety.
- Passage Rock Wines – Passage Rock Vineyard is at the eastern end of Waiheke Island at the head of Te Matuku Bay. Its first vines were planted in 1994.
- Peacock Sky – Peacock Sky Vineyard is located in the centre of Waiheke Island with views across the Hauraki Gulf to Auckland.
- Peninsula Estate on Hakaimango Point was planted in 1986/87. These original plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, also now include Chardonnay and Syrah.
- Poderi Crisci Estate
- Ridgeview Estate
- Saratoga Estate
- Stony Batter Estate – Stony Batter Estate, the island's largest vineyard, is at the north-eastern corner of the island
- Stonyridge Vineyard – Stonyridge was founded in 1981 in the Onetangi Valley. Specializing in Bordeaux-style reds, the vineyard's most famous wine is its Stonyridge Larose.
- Te Motu Vineyard – Te Motu Vineyard was established in the Onetangi Valley in 1989. The first vintage was produced in 1993.
- Te Whau Vineyard
- The Hay Paddock – This 12-acre (49,000 m2), stone-walled vineyard on Seaview Road is planted in Syrah vines sourced from the Hermitage AOC region of the Rhone Valley. Cellar-aged collector wines are released under the Harvest Man and Hay Paddock labels.
- Topknot Hill Vineyard
- View East Vineyard – A boutique vineyard on the south eastern corner of Waiheke Island specializing in Syrah.
- Woodside Hill
See also 
- "Waiheke Island information". Tourism Auckland. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
- Waiheke Demographic Report Card 2011
- The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names, Reed Books, 2002
- Illustrated Maori Place Names, Reed Books, 2001
- Waiheke & adjacent islands (map information from the DOC, via Craig Potton Publishing website)
- Appendix 3 – Character statements for conservation areas (from the Auckland City District Plan – Hauraki Gulf Islands Section – Proposed 2006). Accessed 2008-02-12.
- Stony Batter Historic Reserve, Waiheke Island. Department of Conservation.
- "Community". Tourism Auckland. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
- "Seniors advocate rate revolt island-wide and beyond". Waiheke Gulf News. May 2006.
- "Board reiterates valuation concerns Board reiterates valuation concerns". Waiheke Gulf News. March 2006.
- "Editorial: Better educated and better off". Waiheke Gulf News. 5 July 2007.
- Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Waiheke Island Claim. Waitangi Tribunal. Accessed 2008-08-22.
- "NZ Herald 6 December 1991"
- "Royal Commission allocates one day to Waiheke". Waiheke Gulf News. 5 June 2008.
- "A show of hands says it all". Waiheke Gulf News. 3 April 2008.
- Royal Commission Executive Summary report
- "Waiheke local board". Auckland Council. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Electricity Asset Management Plan 2011 – 2021". Vector Limited. 24 March 2011. p. 100. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
- Waiheke Island Bylaw: Part 29 – Waiheke Wastewater. Auckland City Council.
- About the Trust. Waste Resource Trust Waiheke. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
- "Waiheke Primary School – Te Kete Ipurangi". Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Te Huruhi School – Te Kete Ipurangi". Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Waiheke High School – Te Kete Ipurangi". Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Stony Batter". Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- "GE Free NZ Newsletter, December 1999 – Rage Inc.". pp. Page 2.
- Community and People of Waiheke Island (the organisation's official website)
- "Matiatia land development". Auckland City Council.
- 4.1 Parking Near Ferry Terminal At Matiatia (minutes of the Urban Strategy and Governance Committee of Thursday 1 March 2007, Auckland City Council)
- "Ministry believes Waiheke foot & mouth threat a hoax". New Zealand Herald. 10 May 2005.
- "Last vets to leave Waiheke after foot and mouth hoax". New Zealand Herald. 23 May 2005.
- Headland: Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island http://sculptureonthegulf.co.nz/
- The 46 Places to Go in 2013, New York Times, 11th Jan 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/01/10/travel/2013-places-to-go.html?_r=0
- Scoop Media, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1302/S00332/record-numbers-at-sculpture-exhibition.htm
- "From Santa Cruz to Waiheke". wineoftheweek.com. 7 May 2005. Accessed 2008-02-12.
- "Blues Reviews, Tasting Panel" (PDF). June 2011.
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