The Wawata Story
The special story of this unprecedented parcel of northeast-facing land positioned on the coastal hills of Waiheke Island begins with a step back into time.
The ancient Maori name for Waiheke Island was Te Motu-arai-roa (the long sheltering island), reflecting that its profile, stretched out low across the horizon, could be seen from the far distance; and the role the island played in sheltering passing canoes from the sometimes-rugged weather.
It did not take too long before these early people discovered the wealth of the island’s virgin forests and its deep estuaries. They moved in, building some 46 pa on headlands and high hills to protect their taonga – the sandy beaches, rocky headlands and the surrounding waters teeming with kai moana..fish, crayfish, crabs, mussels, kina.
In these modern times, what remains is the Maori earthworks softened by time and visible to those in the know, as well as midden, including those located at Wawata where great care has been taken to protect them.
Ngati Paoa claimed the island as tāngata whenua from about 1700.
When the first European visitors started arriving in the early 1800s, this place was known by Maori as Motu-Wai-Heke. Quickly the new arrivals also saw that the island had many treasures, including that it was a ready journey under sail from the settlement of Auckland that was growing in importance.
Stepping forward a century or so to the 1980s, Waiheke was already a haven for independent thinkers, and proud of being the first community in the country to vote for a nuclear-free New Zealand.
The rolling land that is today Wawata Estate was, in fact, very likely a hub for this then alternative approach.
It was part of a thriving hippie colony, albeit far-flung from the likes of like-thinkers in more well-known peace and love locales such as Haight Ashbury, San Francisco – ‘be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’.
After a period of meditation, these free spirits cashed up, selling their piece of paradise to Colin and Jillian Devine, who then farmed cattle on the land, and raised five daughters there.
Following Environment Court consent, the Devines two years ago sold a 38-hectare parcel, about one third of their Thompson’s Point property, to Chris Jacobs.
Chris saw the opportunity for a magnificent coastal residential estate here on the land. The steep terrain, rather than being daunting, provided the opportunity for 25 lots, all with stunning views and north facing.
This attuned man’s ethos is to ‘do it well, be the best’ – a philosophy formed in his early years, and nourished through owning and operating successful travel and tourism businesses, initially in the Bay of Islands, and then in Fiji and the Whitsunday Islands off Australia’s Queensland coast.
“This special land that we have named Wawata – meaning to desire earnestly, to long for – provided a magnificent raw canvas. Quite simply, it demanded that it be well done – and so we have.”