Past Projects

Since the  Community took over the lease of Quarantine Island in 1958, initially as the St Martin Island Community,  a huge amount of work has gone into making the island accessible and habitable! Early community members describe:

“The climb from the jetty was difficult and overgrown”

“… a deep layer of solidified goat dropping had to be dug out of the milking shed.”

“… the main house (the enlarged Keeper’s Cottage) …the only building still in fair condition.”

A number of works have been undertaken, the jetty has been extended, the community have built the Chapel, the Lodge has been added to, composting toilets have been installed and a very valuable and essential rainwater collection and storage system has been extended.


The WW1 soldiers recreation rooms have been added to and transformed into the current Resident Keepers Cottage.  Extensive fencing has been erected to protect the regenerating native bush and provide a space for farm animals. Huge amounts of volunteer work have gone into creating the beautiful, interesting and refreshing sanctuary that Quarantine Island Kamau Taurua is to so many people.

Saving the ‘Married Quarters,’  New Zealand’s only two-storied wooden quarantine building, which remains on its original site. This is the last remaining building of the 1870′s quarantine station, a prominent two-storied building which once housed families in quarantine.

The building had become very dilapidated, when a massive effort was put in to save and restore it, led by former keeper, Kathy Morrison. The building is now weatherproof and structurally sound. In fact, we are delighted to have won an award in 2019 for our collective work to save and preserve this special building!

We gratefully acknowledge major financial contributions to the Married Quarters project from Lotteries Environment and Heritage, the Otago Community Trust, Perpetual Trustees Charitable Trust, Dunedin Heritage Fund, Alexander Mc Millan Trust, and Sargood Trust and the many others giving generously in both cash and kind. Our former and current Keepers, especially Kathy Morrison, but also Graeme Furness, Francine Vella, Don Hunter, Phil Perrow and Dries van den Broeck; the Department of Conservation; Heritage NZ; Phil Ballard (Fire Engineer); Graeme Innes (electrician); Chubb; Thankyou Charitable Trust; Otago Peninsula Community Board; Chalmers Community Board; West Harbour Lions;  Dunedin Casino; Tracey (T.C.) Elliott; Zena Bracey; Kristen Bracey & Chris Brown; Port Otago; Southern Clams; John McLachlan; Resenes; Bramwells; South Bar; and the Dunedin Zen group.

Our builder/painter/project manager since 2015, Paul Clements, has been so resourceful and generous, enabling us to complete this ambitious project. Finally, we would like to thank the many volunteers who cheerfully helped at working bees, and our special Heritage Open Days, and who have made the whole daunting undertaking, do-able and enjoyable! Hard Work Restoring History of Quarantine

Thanks to Alexander McMillan Trust and Otago Community Trust for funds to repaint the exterior in March- April 2019, and Paul Clements and Moana House for doing this work.

To find out more about what was found during the archaeological monitoring of the excavation, read Shar Briden’s report.

Access to the Buildings from the Jetty

When the community first arrived on the island they had to scramble their way through the bush up a steep hill to the historic buildings.  In the early years, the community cleared a path from the jetty up the side of the hill to the ‘Lodge’ (old Keepers cottage from quarantine days). 

This track still exists and is the most used access way.  It does get very muddy in the winter and is very vulnerable to slipping being steep with patchy ground cover.

It was decided that another access was needed making the route to the historic buildings a little easier.  Steps were cut and built from the jetty up to the current Keepers Cottage (originally the WW1 soldiers recreation rooms). Thanks to the Bendigo Valley Sports and Charity Foundation, Dunedin Amenities Society and the Bracey-Brown family for generous financial help with this. We have also recently improved access ladders onto the Jetty. Thanks to John McLachlan for this.

Water Storage

We are dependent on catching and storing rainwater on the island. Until recently we were reliant on storing all our water in the original concrete tanks, which have cracks and leaks. Thanks to the Speights Fund in 2018 we were able to purchase a new 3,500 litre tank, pipes and fittings, to replace the aging concrete tanks,  and fit in with our new water filter system (funded through a DCC Services Grant in 2017).

This complements the 30,000 litre tank, funded by the Sargood Bequest in 2010, which was transported to the Island by helicopter, thanks to a grant from the Bendigo Valley Sport & Charitable Foundation. Thanks also to our volunteers, who carried over all the gravel and built the pad.

Lodge and Cottage Maintenance

A lot of work has taken place to improve the Lodge over the years, but as funds and energy allow, we continue to work on this. In 2017- 2018 volunteer electricians Roman Solomatenko and Graham Innes donated more than 100 hours to replace and upgrade most of the electrical system in the Lodge. Thanks to a DCC Services Grant for covering materials.

Thanks also to this fund for enabling us to purchase a UV water filter so we can treat the drinking water.

In December 2016, a Panasonic heatpump was installed in the Dining Room, thanks to a generous $3000 grant from Foodstuffs/Gardens New World, and a $600 discount from Panasonic.

In February 2013 the Community Council installed underfloor insulation in the Keeper’s Cottage, repaired the rotting southern wall of the cottage, and replaced a rotten window.  A big thank you to Kristen Bracey and Chris Brown and Peter Matheson for generous donations.

Survey of the Island and Cemetery

In August 2016, Dr Pascal Sirguey and Craig McDonnell from the University of Otago School of Surveying conducted a survey of the Island using a combination of photos captured by a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS, a.k.a., drone or UAV) and ground survey. 

This gives us up to date topographical data and aerial imagery of the island at unprecedented resolution and will add to the understanding of the ecology and heritage features on the Island. A further ground survey of the cemetery took place in early 2017 and we are eagerly awaiting the results.