Diving in the Poor Knights Islands and its Maori history

Poor Knights Islands

For years, every time we go on a trip we like to squeeze the destiny to which we go to the maximum. Therefore, we began to explore other means more thoroughly and we went from snorkeling to sporadic diving and from there, we got the PADI diving license.

Thanks to this permit we can dive up to 20 meters deep and with it, discover the underwater wonders around the world. No wonder then, that as soon as we stepped on New Zealand, we informed ourselves a bit about the best areas to dive to beat the best price.

Sites like Bay of islands, in the North Island or Milford Sound in the south, appear in all the rankings, but soon we discard them because of their popularity and quality-price. However, we could not contain ourselves to one of the best-rated sites in New Zealand and one of the best in the world, the Poor Knights Islands.

Poor Knights Islands

Poor Knights Islands

Located on the northern island of New Zeland at the height of Tutukaka, this nature reserve offers a variety of fish, vegetation and underwater cliffs that few areas match. In addition, it has the “advantage” that it is tapu, or what is the same, sacred in Maori.

But why are they tapu?

Around 1808, after Captain Cook arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand), the different Maori tribes fought over property and land. The tribe or hapu of the Ngatiwai lived in the islands at that time. Neighbors were the Hikutu (Hokigana) who one day paddled to the Poor Knights in search of pigs (Europeans introduced this animal in the country and were very precious). But to their displeasure, the Ngatiwai did not let them or rob them in their lands.

A few years later, all the Poor Knights Islands warriors went to help a friendly tribe in a conflict in the south. The moment in which the Hikutu took their revenge. They reached the beautiful  islands and massacred the entire Ngatiwai tribe. It is said that only 10 people survived of the 400 that are calculated to live there. When Tatua, the chief of the tribe, and his warriors returned, they were so horrified by what they found that they buried their dead and left the Poor Knights. Devastated, they moved to the coast of the northern island, where their descendants still live.

Although the years go by, the Poor Knights Islands will always be tapu for the Maori community as a sign of respect for those killed that day.

Okay and … what does this have to do with diving?

Poor Knights Islands

The story of the Poor Knights explains why every boat or person that wants to access the island has to ask for a special permit, and it costs a lot to get it. Only dive companies that stay on the coast or scientists who will obtain samples from the area usually obtain it. The uniqueness of the area means that there is not even a documentary of these Poor Knights Islands.

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