Raoul & the Kermadecs

Steven Gentry


Raoul Island & the Kermadecs are a little-known part of New Zealand — their full and fascinating story is told here for the first time.

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‘In the midst of a prodigious ocean’, as one European explorer described them, the Kermadec Islands lie 1000 kilometres north of New Zealand and form our northern bastion. They are the result of the collision between two of the earth’s major tectonic plates, being the tips of volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor by these massive geological forces.

This is the story of the islands: their unique flora and fauna; the attempts at settlement (both Polynesian and European); their uses both in war and peace; and the restoration of their ecosystems which is proceeding today.

It is a dramatic story of storms, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other events that have beset efforts to make use of the islands, but through all of these the human spirit has shone through.

Review from NZ Forest and Bird magazine (November 2013)
“In the midst of a prodigious ocean” half way between the Bay of Plenty and Tonga, lie the Kermadec islands, the visible portion of remnant volcanic cones that form part of the Kermadec arm of sub-marine volcanoes. All of the islands are nature reserves and surrounded by a 12 nautical-mile marine reserve. The largest of these sub-tropical islands is Raoul (Rangitahua), our largest pōhutukawa-clad island and, as the only island with a permanent water supply, the only to have been inhabited by humans. These are the stories of these islands and the people, from early voyagers, slavers, whalers, remarkable settlers to scientific expeditions, courageous conservationists and adventurers, the pioneers who have impacted upon and in turn been affected by the islands. They are engaging stories richly told, cohesively drawn together from disparate sources, archives and personal letters and anecdotes. The author, in his non-judgemental way, allows us to connect with the personalities, their hopes and aspirations, with a sense of wonder that generates an enthusiasm for the flora and fauna and this enigmatic volcanic landscape that is both a serene paradise and volatile foe. The encyclopaedic and chronological text is richly enhanced with numerous photos, maps and illustrations. It’s a fascinating journey through history that excites our appetite for discovery and highlights the vitality and importance of these islands and their surrounding seas.

About the author

Steven Gentry trained as a civil engineer, but has always had an interest in the natural world. His career in consulting engineering led him into the far corners of the developing world and particularly the South Pacific. His experiences led to directorships in the wider corporate scene, but all the while his interest in the history and the flora and fauna of the Pacific continued unabated.

Steve’s curiosity about the Kermadecs was whetted when Heritage Expeditions announced their first visit to the islands in the Spirit of Enderby in 2005. He was an enthusiastic participant, and in preparing for the visit realised how much disparate information was available about the islands that had never been drawn together in any form. Five years ago his thoughts turned to writing a history of the Kermadecs, and as he will tell you, it has been a fascinating journey.


Additional information

Dimensions 210 × 260 mm