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Evening Post October 25th 1877

A very painful sensation was created in town this morning by the intelligence, which quickly spread, that there was sickness of a serious nature on board the Zealandia, which arrived off the Heads last evening from London, via Rio, and that some deaths already had occurred, while there still was disease on board. As the Zealandia was known to have some old Wellington families on board, this news caused great excitement, and anxious enquiries were to be heard on all sides. After a time the rumors increased in magnitude and circumstantiality, the final point final point reached being a report that the disease was yellow fever, contracted while the ship was being repaired at Rio after a collision at sea, that it had been raging during the whole subsequent voyage, and that the ship now was a floating pest-house! However, after a while, it was ascertained that the sole origin of the rumour was traced to a telegram received by Captain Holliday, as Harbour Master and Health Officer, from Mr Laman, the signal-man at the Heads. That telegram was as follows: - "Ship standing off and on. Pilot on board. Sent boat ashore. No colors shown except yellow flag. Sickness not known. One of crew dead, and another ill. Passengers all well."

This is so far satisfactory, that it defines the extent of the misfortune, but of course it is much to be regretted that after their previous accident and long detention at Rio, the passengers should meet with this vexatious delay at the very verge of their long journey's end. The hoisting of the yellow flag is imperative under the 102nd section of the Public Health Act, 1876, when a vessel with any disease on board, supposed to be contageous or infectious, is within a league of the shoreThus it does not follow that the present sickness may be of any serious magnitude. The death of one sailor and the illness of another may be due to causes implying no danger at all to the passengers, who, moreover, are expressly stated to be "all well" at present.

Captain Doile, of the ss Stormbird, which arrived this morning, informs us that he passed the Zealandia as he came in, but at too great a distance to speak her, as the steamer kept well under the land for shelter from the strong N W gale then blowing, and the ship was about four miles out from Pencarrow, standingoff and on, the sea being quite smooth. Captain Doile states that he did not see the yellow flag flying, and does not believe it could have escaped his notice if it had been hoisted.

It is expected that the Zealandia will be able to beat in on this evening's tide if the gale abates, when she will be boarded at once by the Health Officer, and the extent of the sickness ascertained.

Evening Post October 26th 1877


The Zealandia was unable to get into harbour last night, but taking advantage of a slant of W S W wind this morning, managed to make the outer anchorage shortly before noon, when she hove to, and the health officers - Dr Johnston and Captain Holliday - went out to her. On arriving alongside a parley was held with Captain Sellars, the commander of the ship, who stated that the passengers, numbering 47 statute adults - none being Government immigrants - were all in excellent health now, and had been throughout the voyage, which had occupied 142 days, including detention at Rio de Janeiro, but there was some sickness among the crew, who numbered 33 all told. There were three cases of an eruptive fever, which apparently was smallpox, showing every symptom of that disease, and one of the crew had died on the 28th ult. from this complaint. There was no contageous or infectious disease prevalent at Rio when the Zealandia left, she had not touched since at any infected port, or communicated with any infected vessel. The disease first made its appearance among the crew on the 29th August, and two more cases were reported on the 20th September