Île Matthew & Île Hunter
disputed islands between New Caledonia and Vanatu

Summary of the German article by Wolfgang Schippke, DC3MF


Both islands, Île Hunter and Île Matthew are located far offshore New Caledonia, about 300 Kilometers east of Noumea. Île Matthew is the western most of both, consisting of two hills, the western 177 m high, the eastern, 134 meters. Both parts are connected by a low small isthmus. Île Hunter, located about 70 km further east is dome shaped, 242 m high and of oval base.
The islands are of volcanic origin, till active today and surrounded by high basaltic-cliffs.Matthew is a quite young island, errected through volcanism about 1500 to 2000 years ago, while Hunter seams to be some older.
Île Matthew was discovered in 1788 by K.Gilber with the HMS 'Charlotte', but not annexed by Great Britain. Île Hunter was discovered about 10 years later by Commander F.Fearn with the whaler 'Hunter', and named by the ship's name. Because both isands did not have natural water, the islands were uninterested. In 1834 a France war-ship visited the islands and found the volcano on Matthew's East-Island as active. In 1840 the British Wilkens observed strong erruptions on Matthew, and it is sayed that during this time the isthmus was formed. In France annexed the both islands in 1929. In 1965 Great Britain occupated the islands for New Hebrides, followed in 1975 again by the France. In 1980 the new formed Nation of Vanatu annexed the both islands again, and one year later the France errected a maned station on Matthew Island. Till this time both nations annexed and re-annexed the islands once a year, and several times military ships of both nations are visiting the islands. Till today there was no open dispute over the islands and let us hope for further peace on it.