Stewart Island/Rakiura has a special place in the nation’s history, not only as the southernmost permanently settled corner of Polynesia but also as a foothold for early European occupation.
‘ . . . an island renowned for its natural beauty, named for its glowing skies, and now recognised for its radiant place in New Zealand history. Its heritage values are out of all proportion to its size and population.’
This history of the island and its people serves also as a guide to an intriguing array of historic sites. Maori occupation dates back more than 700 years, and the island featured in the first few decades of European settlement and industry in New Zealand.
Neville Peat first visited Stewart Island/Rakiura in 1968, when he arrived aboard the 30-m MacLeod family vessel Heather George to explore Paterson Inlet, Port Adventure and Lords River with the help of veteran ranger Roy Traill and seasoned local fisherman Archie Johnson. Peat has returned to the island numerous times on holiday or to research book projects. He is the author of Stewart Island – The Last Refuge, featuring the photographs of Erwin Brinkman (Random House New Zealand 1992), and Stewart Island – A Rakiura Ramble (Otago University Press 2000 and 2004), a popular guidebook to the island.