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WRECKS AT THE CHATHAMS

New Zealand Bound

Tuapeka Times, 21 February 1894, Page 6 (33 wrecks)

The following list of vessels wrecked on and about the Chatham Islands, compiled by an old Chatham Islands resident, Mr J. G. Engst, will be of interest : —

Gloria — Sealing brig, in a little bay on the S.E. shore of Pitt Island, which bay afterwards was named Gloria, in or shortly after 1836. Captain Richerton. Trading schooner at Wangaroa, 1839, by the same captain.

French whaler at Ocean Bay, burned by the Maoris, after the crew had abandoned her in their boats, 1839. That affair has its own story.

Erie — North Bedford whaler, at Waitangi, 1839. Captain Wanton Denis.

James — New Zealand trading schooner, Waitangi, 1841. Captain Bell ; about 50 tons burthen. 

Lookin — Sydney trading schooner, at Waikeri, 1842. Captain Finley ; 50 tons burthen.

Chelcia — New London whaler, at Tupuangi Monau, 1845. Captain Potts ; 600 tons burthen ; about 100 tuns of oil. Considerable part of provision and wreckage was saved. One man drowned.

Launceston brigantine, at Wangaroa, 1846. Captain H. Griffiths; 160 tons burthen. The first vessel which took cattle from the Chathams.

Ocean — New Zealand trading schooner (fore-and-aft), Waitaugi, 1848. Captain Ferguson ; 30 tons burthen. Flora M'Donald.— New Zealand trading schooner, laden with wheat, at Wangaroa and Waitangi, in 1851. She left Wangaroa bound for Wellington, and nothing has been heard of her since. Forty tons burthen. Captain Warren.

Antarctic — New ship from North Bedford; lay in Waitangi three weeks before she was wrecked there in 1852.

Randolf — English trading barque from China via Melbourne. She came for a cargo of potatoes. She struck on Tupuangi reef, 'and beached in Taoroa in 1853. Captain and owner, Mr Horseburgh.

Resolution — New Zealand trader, a ketch rigged cutter, in 1855. She left Turanga under a strong gale from W.S. W., and some months after was found bottom up by a whaler between the Chathams and New Zealand. Captain M'Clatchie. Forty tons register.

St. Peter — North Bedford whaling barque, at Kaingaroa Harbor, 1855. Captain Young. Wilfully wrecked by some of the crew in the absence of the captain.

Marmora — Sydney trading brigantine, at Owenga, 1856. Captain Scoomes ; 150 tons burthen.

Helen — Hobart Town brigautine, in Waikere Bay, on Pitt Island. Captain Clarke, 1875. One hundred and fifty tons burthen. The most destructive wreck of all. All but one lost, the captain, his wife, and daughter included. The survivor, one of the crew, was washed up on a shelf. He came to himself after a while, and was able to tell the awful story.

Panama — A Sydney whaling brigantine, in 1857. She called in at Kaingaroa in a very leaky state, but left again in that condition, against the consent of many. About 150 miles to the north of this island. As many as had room in one boat left her ; the rest were left on her to perish, and those seven or eight men in the boat came back safely to Kaingaroa. Captain Griffis, the navigator, the mates, and some others were among those who came back.

Adelaide Paiked — Melbourne trading brigantine, wrecked at Taupeka, loading wheat and potatoes there. Wrecked with a full cargo and money. Nothing saved except the bare lives. One man drowned. Captain Wetterrolle. Elisabeth. — French whaling barque, struck on the Matarakau reef, 1858. Captain Painblanch. Nothing saved except the lives.

Leveret — Sydney trading brig. Came for a cargo of potatoes, and wrecked at Kaingaroa Harbor in 1858 by a N.E. gale. Captain Treefarthen.

Elieser — Auckland trading schooner t at Waitangi, in 1859. Captain John Blair. About fifty tons register. Terror.— Hobart Town whaling barque, wrecked on Okuwa reef in 1859. Captain M'Grath.

Franklin — North Bedford whaling barque, on Pitt Island (Flower Pot) in 1859. Captain Richmond.

Sebastopol — London ship, in ballast, bound for Valparaiso. Wrecked on the Horomaunga beach in 1860. Captain M'Grath. The same captain of the Terror. He had left some wreckage from the Terror, which he would take away, and was again wrecked almost in the same place.

Edwards — Otago brigantine schooner, at Waitangi, 1861. Captain Weeks. Seabine. — Otago brigantine schooner. She came to ship cattle from here, and was wrecked in Kaingaroa Harbor in 1863. Captain Urquhart. Empire — North Bedford whaler, 600 tons register. Wrecked at +he entrance of Whangaroa Harbor in 1863. Captain M'Cumberth.

Sicilia — New Zealand trader, topsail schooner, about 35 tons burthen, in 1864. She left Kaingaroa Harbor with produce for Auckland, and nothing was heard of her afterwards. Captain John Blair.

Alabama — North Bedford whaler, at Whangaroa, in 1865. Captain Coffin. Wilfully wrecked.

Catharine — Hobart Town whaling barque, at Waitangi, 1866. Captain Lucas. Was got off again and repaired ; but having no proper anchors was wrecked again. Owner's name was Russell. Sea Serpent. — New Zealand trading brigantiae schooner. She left Pitt Island end of June, 1886, with produce and passengers bound for Wellington. Never heard of since. Captain A. Blair.

Wild Wave — Tradingbrigantine schooner. She was abandoned by her crew between Ocean Bay and Waiparoa. No one knows what became of her. Captain Black.

Lizzie Scott — English ship in ballast, bound for Callao. Foggy weather and tide caused her to differ about six miles from free course, and struck on the Totara reef in 1867. Captain West.

Express— New Zealand trading schooner, laden with wool and cattle from Pitt Island. Wrecked in Wangaroa for the sake of damaged anchors in 1867. Captain Twiss.

Hawke's Bay Herald, 2 May 1868, Page 2
The brigantine Express, 150 tons, Capt. Twiss, arrived off the Chatham Islands on February 5, with a cargo of cattle and wool and was for six weeks beating about off Pitt's Island. After landing her cattle she proceeded to Whangaroa to obtain a safe anchorage, having previously lost all her anchors at Pitt Island. Soon after arriving at her anchorage a heavy breeze sprung up from the S.S.W., which caused her to drag her anchor, and before sail could be made upon her, she struck the rocks on the eastern side of the port, at high water, on March 18. The cattle were safely landed, but a severe gale, accompanied by a heavy swell, coming on before a second anchor could be run out to heave her off, on the morning of the 19th, finding a very large quantity of water in the hold, and the ship striking heavily, the captain, after landing what he could, sent all the crew on shore ; shortly after, finding the ship likely to fall on her beam ends, abandoned her, when she broached to, and became a total wreck. A court of inquiry as to the loss of the vessel was held at the Chathams, before Capt. Thomas, R.M., and H. Anderson, Esq., Acting Nautical Assessor, which perfectly exonerated Capt. Twiss, whose certificate was returned. The crew of the Express will shortly arrive at Port Chalmers by the schooner Despatch. Wellington Journal, April 17.

EXPRESS   Brigantine,  of 149 tons, built at Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia in 1849, under Capt Twiss was wrecked at Port Hutt, Chatham Is on March 19th 1868.

Florence — New Zealand fore-and-aft schooner, laden with wool and other produce. She was cut adrift from her anchorage at Waitangi by the Hanhau prisoners when they escaped in the Rifleman in 1868. She was repaired and wrecked again. Captain Priest.

Ocean Mail — English ship, on her voyage from New Zealand to London ; wrecked on Matarakau reef in 1877. She was laden with, wool and. tallow, etc. , to a very high figure. Captain Wardson. What was saved paid not for labor.

The Star Saturday 19 May 1877 pg2
Auckland, May 18
A Russell telegram states that the Ocean Mail struck on a rock at the Chathams, called French Rock, on the north-west side of the island. The passengers and crew, numbering 60 in all, were saved. They are still at the Chathams. Four days after the wreck one bale of wool was washed ashore.

Island Lilie — Trading brigantine schooner, wrecked at Teraki in 1885. Captain Came. She was wrecked in 1876, under the name of the Agnes. She was repaired again, and traded between the Chathams and New Zealand till 1885.

Plegaden — Hamburg barque. She was loaded with copra, and on her voyage from the Fiji Islands to Hamburg she became leaky, and passing by the Chatham Islands the ship's company beached her at Mataraka in 1885 to save their lives. Captain Classen.

Omaha — New Zealand trading brigantine schooner. She traded for many years between Chatham Islands and New Zealand. She was wrecked at Owonga in August, 1887. Captain Donald.

Jessie Readman — London wool ship, on her voyage from New Zealand to London. Foggy weather and tide hove her about six miles from her free course in passing this island, and caused her to land on the Tuapeka Beach, 23rd December, 1893. She is the only vessel of all the wrecks which have occurred here from which all the cargo has been saved. Captain Thomas Burton.

I have been a great deal (in my own vessel) round this island, and by experience I can speak about the tide. It is not a general ocean tide, but a tide which is caused round the shores by flood and ebb, which influence extends from ten to fifteen miles either way. The flood tide splits on the south side, and runs on the east and west shore till it joins again on the north side. The ebb tide splits on the north side, and runs reverse on the two shores till it joins again on the south side. Any sailing ship which comes into these limits, by foggy weather, or calm, or by night, most surely comes to grief. In this way the flood tide sets a vessel northwards, and the ebb tide southwards, as is to be seen by the Lizza Scott, Ocean Mail, and Jessie ' Readman. The Lizza Scott, by flood tide, came some miles to the north, and the Ocean Mail and Jessie Readman by ebb tide came some miles to the south. This is not my opinion alone, but the masters I had on my vessel many years ago fully agreed to what I state here. It should be made known to masters of ships that when leaving New Zealand and taking the route towards Cape Horn they should give these islands a wide berth.

N.B. — I can state instances when on my own vessel falling in with a calm on the south-east side between Owenga and 44deg in the evening, by daylight we found ourselves up by the Sisters — that means from thirty to forty miles.


Timaru Herald Friday 12 October 1900
Christchurch. Details of the accident at the Chathams on September 26th. Three boats left the main island at the Chathams to go to the Sisters, a group of rocks on the northern side of the island, in order to procure young albatrosses. Shortly before the date of departure the weather was unsettled, and experienced boat steerers went home thinking that the expedition would be postponed. During the absence of the boat steerers several young men decided to start out in the three boats. They reached the Sisters and loaded all boats heavily. At about 3 p.m. a start was made for home, but the sea and wind had risen and all three boats were in distress. Two of them, named Parru and Waihika, were capsized and nine men drowned. Their names are Eruera, Hira, Hikoreriti, Fred Manuera, Pene, Ropu, Simeon, John walker and Teoka. Only one body, that of Hikoreriti, was washed ashore. An inquest was held. A prolonged tangi was held by the natives, extending over a fortnight. It was decided that someone had to be punished, and a choice was made of Richmond, who successfully brought his boat to land, and he had to submit to several castigations the widows of three of those who drowned. The above news was brought by Captain Romeril, of the s.s. Toroa, which arrived from the island today, Oct. 11.

The Star Monday 3 March 1902 pg3
The Chatham Islands. Discovery of Wreckage. All doubt as to the fate of the four men, Messrs Rapley, Pepper, Fougere and Murphy, who left Pitt's for Manakau, in the Main Island, in a whaleboat, on Jan. 29, has been removed by discovery of portions of the boat washed up at Mongonui, on the western side of the Main Island.

West Coast Times, 12 October 1903, Page 2
WRECK AT THE CHATHAMS
Oct 11 Lyttelton,
Captain McAlister, of the steamer Toroa, which arrived from the Chatham Islands on Saturday night, reports that between August 23rd and 26th wreckage was found at Te Whagru and Kaingoroa on the main island and on Pitt island. It comprised a life buoy and boat . tiller, both bearing the name Loch Long, the stern sheet of a life boat, boat mast and oar, ship's boom, cabin fittings, and door of teak, and a quantity of deck planking. The weather when the wreckage came ashore was thick, with strong northeast winds. Two Misses Shand residing at Te Whagru state they heard guns fired at sea on August 23rd. The Loch Long was an iron ship, 1203 tons, commanded by Captain J. Strachan. She left New Caledonia for Clyde with ore on April 29 th last.

Hawera & Normanby Star, 6 November 1903, Page 2
A MARINE INQUIRY. There is every indication that the Loch Long struck the North-west Reef, and was lost with all hands. There was not a sign of survivors. Fragmentary - portions of the main and poop decks, cabin, and boat fittings were ashore on the north side of .the Chathams and on the Pitt; also lifebouy, boat tiller, and oar branded with the ship's name. By the appearance of the wreckage the vessel must have struck about the end of May
.


Campbell, John 1942- Historic Shipwrecks at the Chatham Islands / John Campbell. Anthropology Dept., University of Otago 1977.