Aroha Island is an important archaeological site. Middens, stone alignments and heaps, terraces and two burial grounds have been discovered. A wahi tapu was registered on the title in 2005.
When Dr Colin Little and Margaret Little purchased the island in 1971, they set about restoring it, removing sheep and goats, replanting many varieties of native and exotic ornamental trees and slowly removing exotic weeds.
In 1984 a QEII open space covenant was registered on the title, ensuring the natural and historic values were protected in perpetuity and in 1991 the island was sold to QEII. It was the Little’s intention that the Trust would preserve Aroha and maintain it as ‘open space’ available for public use and education. The latter is provided through information and education programmes run at Aroha’s Eco Centre.
In 2005, QEII National Trust reviewed the management of the island and announced its intention to manage it on a commercial lease basis. A community committee was set up and successfully tendered for the management of Aroha.
Aroha Island Charitable Trust was formed in October 2007 to preserve and enhance the Open Space Covenant and social values of Aroha Island and retain public access for present and future generations.
This would be achieved through the following objectives:
• Provide a centre of excellence for the preservation & advocacy of North Island Brown Kiwi.
• Encourage the appropriate public use of Aroha Island.
• Preserve & enhance the fauna, flora & habitats in accordance with the open space covenant.
• Preserve the natural vista.
• Respect wahi tapu and protect sites of archaeological significance.
• Provide an exemplary visitors centre.
• Protect the land from subdivision (upholding Dr Little’s original request).
• Ensure democratic community participation.
In December 2007, Aroha Island was re-opened and by July 2009, a 5-year lease with three 5-year rights of renewal was finally signed with QEII. Aroha Island Charitable Trust continues to manage Aroha Island, with the ongoing support of many local community volunteers and trustees who work for the ongoing preservation and enhancement of this open space for current and future generations to enjoy.