Heritage, Culture & Arts

Marlborough’s rich history runs wide and deep, from the earliest Polynesian settlers of the Wairau Bar to the first European pioneers who built our towns and planted our first grapevines.

These people, the way they lived their lives and how they dealt with history’s major events has shaped Marlborough into what it is today. Those stories are all here, waiting to be discovered all over again.

Marlborough has a wealth of arts and culture, from art galleries to museums through to concerts and theatre productions.

Follow the Marlborough Arts and Crafts Trail, enjoy a glass of wine while listening to live music at a vineyard or on stage at Marlborough's new ASB Theatre.

Maud Island Heritage

Pelorus Sound scientific reserve, Maud Island (Te Pakeka), had many uses before it became a haven for native species.

It was once occupied by Māori, who cultivated extensive gardens and built food storage pits.

In 1867, ownership of the island was granted to European farmer John Gibson by the Crown, and a large area of forest was cleared for pasture.

Military installations were built on Maud Island during WW2, including a gun emplacement and range finding equipment, which remain today. A road and jetty to service the island’s equipment was built at the same time.

A single kakapo (native parrot) was the reason Maud Island became a wildlife refuge in 1974. The island’s owner, Jack Shand, agreed to let what was believed to be the last kakapo from Fiordland live on the island and it became known as the first safe haven for the parrots. Kakapo numbers on the island reached 18 in 2000 before they were moved to other islands.

Shand gifted some of the island to the Crown in 1971 and later offered it for sale. Royal Forest and Bird Protection secured it after a public fundraising campaign.

Maud Island is today home to a number of rare and endangered species. It is open only by arrangement with the Department of Conservation, which holds public trips in summer.

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