Fort Jervois

Ripapa Island, RIPAPA ISLAND


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DESCRIPTION: The earliest known occupants of Ripapa Island were the Ngati Mamoe who were supplanted by the Ngai Tahu within Lyttelton Harbour in the late eighteenth century. The warrior chief Taununu subsequently built a refuge pa on the island which has been described as the first pa in the South Island "specifically designed for the musket warfare era" [Brailsford, 1981, p.160]. The pa was sacked, however, during the Kai huanga [eat relations] feud in the mid 1820s and when Frederick Strouts surveyed the island in 1872 all that remained of the pa were remnants of its defensive earthworks. Strouts was the designer of the quarantine station that was erected on Ripapa in 1872 and officially opened in June of the following year. This station replaced an earlier one at Camp Bay and it served the province until 1885 when most of the barracks were re-erected on Quail Island. Five years earlier the quarantine station had been used as a temporary prison for over one hundred and fifty of Te Whiti's followers from Taranaki. Following the 'Russian Scare' of 1885 the decision was made to include Ripapa Island in a nationwide coastal defence scheme. Construction of the fort began in 1886 and at the same time a submarine mining depot was erected on the island. At first 'unemployed' and military labour was used to build the fort but in April 1888 convicts from Lyttelton Gaol replaced the original labour force. Initially the convicts were transported to and from Ripapa every day but in 1889 the mining depot buildings were altered to provide living accommodation for the men, who were then quartered on the island for six days each week. The fort was not rendered fully operational until 1895 but the four 'disappearing' guns ordered from England ten years earlier had been mounted by early 1889. Two quick-firing Nordenfaldt guns were also mounted on the island which was occupied during the First and Second World Wars in spite of its defects as a defensive batter. In the early years of this century the island was also used again as a prison for ninety-seven defaulters of Compulsory Military Training in 1913, and for Lieutenant Commander Count Graf Felix von Luckner and Lieutenant Kircheiss, from the German raider 'Seeadler', between January and May of 1918. The army finally abandoned Fort Jervois in 1945 and the island was then taken over by the Lyttelton Harbour Board. It was held in trust by the board until 1958 when the Navy League of New Zealand was appointed to control and manage it. Since then Sea Cadet training camps have been held regularly on the island and more recently guided tours for the public has renewed interest in Ripapa's history.

Fort Jervois. Image courtesy of | Megan Hieatt | 04/02/2009 | Megan Hieatt - Wikimedia Commons
Fort Jervois. Ripapa Island. Image courtesy of | Schwede66 | 22/04/2011 | Schwede66 - Wikimedia Commons



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

8th August 1991

Date of Effect

8th August 1991

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Gaz 46-1241 Res 109 Blk I Pigeon Bay SD

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