Chatham Islands Anniversary Day

Held annually on the last Monday in November, Chatham Islands Anniversary Day commemorates the arrival of the Moriori people, the original settlers on these remote islands located in the Pacific Ocean. It's an exceptional day that not only acknowledges the rich history and culture but also unites the local community in festivities.

So, why is this day so significant? Well, it's a testament to the resilience and enduring spirit of the Moriori people. Their fascinating history and traditions are the vibrant threads that make up the cultural fabric of the Chatham Islands. Stick around as we delve deeper into this remarkable celebration.

When is Chatham Islands Anniversary Day?

Chatham Islands Anniversary Day falls on November 27th, 2023, marking a significant event in the Chatham Islands' cultural heritage and history.

The History of Chatham Islands Anniversary Day

The Moriori people, descendants of the Polynesian Maori, arrived on the Chatham Islands around 1500 AD. They were a deeply spiritual and peaceful community who lived off the land and sea. Their customs, language, and beliefs thrived for centuries until European settlers arrived in the late 1700s.

Unfortunately, this encounter resulted in devastating consequences for the Moriori people. The European settlers brought with them diseases, violence, and land disputes which decimated the Moriori population. By 1835, only a fraction of the original population remained.

Despite this tragic history, the Moriori people and their culture have persevered. Chatham Islands Anniversary Day is a time to remember and honour their legacy.

The Evolution of Chatham Islands Anniversary Day

The first official Chatham Islands Anniversary Day was celebrated in 1916, marking the 50th anniversary of the arrival of European settlers. It wasn't until 1958 that the day was officially recognized as a public holiday by the New Zealand government.

Since then, Chatham Islands Anniversary Day has evolved into a multi-day celebration featuring traditional ceremonies, cultural performances, and family-friendly events. The highlight of the festivities is the annual hāngi, a traditional feast cooked in an earth oven.

Are There Inhabitants on the Remote Chatham Islands?

Yes, despite its remote location and small population, the Chatham Islands are home to a vibrant community that continues to preserve its unique heritage and traditions.

The islands have a current population of around 730 people, mostly made up of descendants of both Moriori and European settlers. The people of the Chatham Islands are known for their hospitality and friendly nature, making visitors feel welcome and included in the annual celebrations.

How to Celebrate Chatham Islands Anniversary Day?

There are many ways to celebrate Chatham Islands Anniversary Day, whether you're a local or a visitor. One of the best ways to experience this special day is by attending the various cultural events and ceremonies that take place throughout the island. These include traditional dances, storytelling sessions, and displays of arts and crafts.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also take part in activities such as fishing competitions, horse racing, and sheep shearing contests. The annual hāngi feast is not to be missed, where you can taste traditional Maori dishes and learn about the cooking process.

If you're not able to make it to the Chatham Islands, don't worry! The celebration is broadcast live on New Zealand television, and many events are also streamed online. This allows people from all over the world to join in and experience this unique cultural celebration.


Chatham Islands Anniversary Day is a unique celebration that honours the rich history and culture of the Moriori people while bringing together all members of the local community. It's a day to remember, reflect, and celebrate the enduring spirit of the Chatham Islands and its people. So mark your calendars for November 27th, 2023, and come experience this extraordinary event with us!

Join the Celebration of Chatham Islands Anniversary Day

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