Living in isolation on the Chatham Islands

Posted by Ed 18 mths ago

Helen Bint is content. She lives a pioneering lifestyle 1075 kilometres from Auckland, 50 kilometres from Waitangi – Waitangi, Chatham Islands, that is – and a final few kilometres across a paddock.

She lives alone in a Category 1-listed historic stone cottage where she spent part of her childhood, in the shadow of a massive rocky outcrop almost 200 metres high.

There is no electricity and few home comforts. Her nearest neighbour, Nick Zimmerman, originally from Switzerland, lives 10 kilometres away on a farm that 100 years ago spread over 8000 hectares and was owned by Helen's grandparents.


For a long time Helen had yearned to go back to her pioneering roots, living like the old people had lived. After raising five children and spending years in horticultural pursuits as diverse as working on hop farms, picking raspberries and the occasional gardening job, she eventually found that food and general living costs were too expensive in the city.

That and her husband's religious beliefs plus a mortgage weighing her down led to her making the life-changing decision to return to the Chathams. Her children had left home but encouraged her, saying, "Good on you, Mum – go off and have adventures". 

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