The Matai Bay hut was originally built out of concern for the native bush being destroyed by noxious animals, mainly deer and opossums.
The local Reserves Board early in their inception in 1962 began lobbing the NZ forest service to undertake eradication measures and two years later the NZ Forest Service applied to the Reserves Board to construct a noxious animal control base here on the Reserve in Duncan which was met by objections from the local section holders.
Then in 1968, the Croisilles/French Pass/D’Urville Island Reserves Board undertook to erect a hut in Matai Bay “for use by hunters and opossum trappers” with monies coming from a Government Grant.
Members were: Chairman Keith Aries Commissioner of Crown Lands Nelson and a bach owner in Duncan Bay, Roy Archer local farmer, Norm Andrews, bach owner in Penzance and local sounds resident Harold Leov. Records show Ian Thorn and partner Mr Hart built the hut for $610.00 with materials being punted out of Havelock by Eric Johnson and Sons for the sum of $18.00.
Interest in the preservation of this area had really begun much earlier when in 1879 Joshua Rutland was appointed as the first ranger by the Department of Crown Lands for the Marlborough Province with a salary of £100 a year. It is believed it was Rutland who first discovered the number of pit dwellings in Matai Bay. He believed them to be many hundreds of years old as one pit had a beech tree measuring three feet in diameter growing in the middle of it. It was after this that the area was gazetted as a Scenic Reserve.
Despite the above, in the early 1900s George and David Godsiff together with their teenage brother Claude as cook, contracted to mill sleepers for the Southern Railway Line. They camped in tents at Matai Bay for over two years working the bays around the area to get the best trees which they milled on site then shipped to Lyttleton .
Apparently there were surveyors working in the area to whom the Godsiff boys gave a helping hand to clear tracks; it was them who named the Bay after the Godsiff men.
One may assume the trees the Godsiffs were cutting would be matai however most of the railway sleepers that were cut in New Zealand at that time were either Silver Pine or birch/beech as the Government had built a Creosote plant in Invercargill to treat them.
Evidence suggests that the hut today is not the original one, one person remembered it as “ a scungy hunter’s tin hut with a smelly smoky open fire”, and when they went to the bay they preferred to sleep in their small boat, but he does remember some good whitebait catches out of the creek nearby.
Over the years the usage has become mostly recreational, especially after the hut was rebuilt/upgraded by the Maritime Parks Board in the mid 1970’s in response to the demand by the public for more access to the parks.
In 2011 DOC had intended to relocate this hut to Nydia Bay for a wardens hut, however a group of enthusiastic people negotiated an agreement to take over the funding and management to retain this gem because this is the only beachfront hut remaining in the Marlborough Sounds area. Initial managed under the umbrella of the Tenyson Inlet Boat Club, this hut is now managed by the Matai Bay Hut Trust.