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The Māori name for Wellington, and for Wellington Harbour, is Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Long ago, as the story goes, it was a lake cut off from the sea. It was abundant in fresh water fish and native bird life. And also home to two taniwha, Ngake and Whātaitai.
Feel the wind in your hair as you ride the East by West Ferry to predator-free Matiu/Somes Island. The scientific reserve is home to the tuatara and little blue penguins. Explore the islands' history as a quarantine station and war-time prison.
Matiu and nearby Makaro islands were named by explorer Kupe in honour of two of his daughters. In 1839, Matiu Island was assumed by the New Zealand Company, along with much of greater Wellington. The island was renamed Somes, after Joseph Somes, the company’s deputy-governor and financier at the time. Somes remained the islands' name for the next 150 years.