WRECK OF THE SS TARANAKI
KAREWA ISLAND, OFF TAURANGA
TUESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1878
Bay of Plenty Times 30 November 1878 p3
TOTAL WRECK OF THE S.S. TARANAKI.
ALL HANDS SAVED.
Great excitement was caused in Tauranga yesterday afternoon by the news that the S.S. Taranaki, from Auckland, due early in the morning, had been wrecked in a fog on the Karewa, a small island five miles, outside the harbour. The news was brought by part of the crew, headed by the mate and the purser, who rowed up in a ship's boat. The following is a verbatim account of THE DISASTER.
I am a fireman on board the S.S. Taranaki. We left Auckland soon after 4 p.m., on Thursday afternoon, with about eighty passengers. The weather was very thick, and at midnight the ship came to anchor somewhere near the Hole In The Wall. About 4 a.m. the weather cleared, and we proceeded, but later on it thickened again. I was on duty from 4pm, at which time I turned in. I had been asleep about an hour and a half, when I heard some one shout " Stop her ! " and then " Full speed astern ! " Almost immediately afterwards the steamer struck. There was no great shock. The engines were then turned on ahead for a minute or two. When I went on deck there seemed to be no confusion. Everyone kept quiet, the passengers behaving remarkably well. Captain (James) Malcolm told us to lower the boats directly. In a few minutes this was done, and we then, proceeded to land passengers on the Island. At eleven o'clock all the passengers were landed, and a portion of the port watch under the mate despatched to Tauranga for assistance. The Taranaki lies on her beam ends, only a small portion of her nose being out of the water.
Another Account(BY ONE OF THE PASSENGERS.)
Mr E. T. GILLON, late Editor of the New Zealander, who was a passenger, kindly furnishes us with the following account
LEAVING AUCKLAND. The Taranaki left Auckland about half past four last evening. It was beautifully calm, but towards night a heavy fog set in, and soon after ten o'clock Captain MALCOLM anchored, and remained until a little after three o'clock, when, as daylight set in, the fog lifted a little. We had about 75 passengers on board, including a very large number of women and children, twenty five of the passengers were in the fore cabin. The ship's hands numbered about 34, so that altogether we had about 110 souls onboard. Most of the passengers were astir early. The morning was calm, but very foggy, and we were under easy steam. Breakfast was rather late, and the bell did not ring till about nine o'clock. The passengers on deck trooped down, and only a few had taken their seats when we felt the engines reversed, and almost instantly THE SHIP STRUCK heavily, and bumped four times. Rushing on deck, we found ourselves in a little rocky inlet, a precipice rising in front of us, some 300 feet sheer. There were rocks on either side, and the bowsprit almost touched the cliff ahead. The sea was calm, but there was a good deal of swell on. The ship bumped heavily, and the water seemed shallow, so that there was no danger of slipping off into deep water. The engines were also kept full speed ahead as long as possible. Most of the passengers were up and dressed, and on the whole excellent order prevailed. Captain Malcolm was quite cool. Mr HOLM, the chief officer, was most active. After a good deal of delay, and with no slight amount of trouble, the four ship's boats were got out safely, but it was three-quarters of an hour after we struck before the first boat, with the women and children, got off from the ship, quickly followed by the second boat with the remainder of the women. SOME FEW MEN SHOWED THE THE WHITE FEATHER, and also a disposition to rush the boats, but the determined attitude of two or three gentlemen who were shipping the women and ohildren, at the Captain's request, stopped this. One gentleman threatened to throw overboard the first man that entered a boat till every women and child was off. To find a safe place to land, we had to pull round a point, which hid the ship from us. We got all the women and children ashore without any accident, and then all the men followed safely. THE ISLAND on which we struck was Tarawera (here known as Karewa) or Lizard Island, a high bare rock of perhaps a couple of acres in extent, and partly covered with karaka trees of stunted growth. Captain Malcolm stuck bravely to his ship, and the crews of the various boats worked with a will to load as much of the passengers luggage as possible. About half -past ten the chief officer was despatched with one of the boats to Tauranga, about 7 or 8 miles off, we supposed. In the meantime the other boats continued to ply to the ship, which had now careened over on her port side, with the sea washing into the saloon, forecabin, hold, and engine-room. Amongst those conspicuous by their untiring energy in saving property were the second and third stewards, twin brothers of the name of WARREN, also a little boy from the training ship on his first voyage, who behaved very gallantly. A good stock of bread, butter, Jam, lemonade etc, was got ashore as well as some cases of fruit, and the best was done to render the women and children comfortable. The sun was very hot, and the whole encampment looked rather like a big picnic. About one o'clock the cutter Lancashire Lass hove in sight and soon afterwards the-Waretai. It took them some time to make the island, and the Waretai came in, first, sending in her boat with a keg of water, which was most acceptable. CAPTAIN MALCOLM came round from the wreck, and being afraid of a change of wind which would render embarkation, difficult, ordered the woman and children to get on board the cutters at once. The first boat load had just left when the smoke of a steamer was seen approaching. It was now about half-past four o'clock. The boats were stopped, and in about half-an-hour the steamer Staffa was close by, and to her all the passengers and luggage were quickly taken and put on board. Just as this was done THE ROWENA came across also. Capt. Malcolm after seeing the passengers safe, determined to remain by the wreck all night and he, Mr Holm, and a portion of the crew went on board the cutters. As Captain Malcolm left the Staffa, the passengers gave him three hearty cheers. The greatest sympathy is felt for him. It was the second mate's watch when we struck, but the captain was on the bridge, and there was a good look out. It was, however, impossible to see fifty yards on any side when we struck, and the first cry of land was little more than half a minute before we struck. We were, it seems, some three miles out of our course, and it is thought the error occurred through our having drifted while at anchor in the night. The WOMEN BEHAVED ADMIRABLY all through. We left the wreck at seven o'clock, the fog still being very dense, and it commenced to rain when we got inside the Heads. We STUCK THREE TIMES on mudbanks in the harbour before reaching the wharf, where at last we arrived at 9.30 p.m. THE TARANAKI is a total wreck, lying on her port side, which is all stoved in. Her back is also said to be broken. Certainly she can never be got off, but if calm, weather continues, a good deal of the cargo will be saved. We have had a miraoulous escape, and we are deeply thankful.
List of Passengers per Taranaki.
|HILL||Rev & Mrs|
|JENKINS||Mr & Mrs & child|
|KIRK||Mrs & 2 children|
|FOR THE SOUTH)|
|DENT||Mrs & son|
|EVANS||Mrs & children|
|GOODFELLOW||Mr (William Rev.)|
|KING||A Mr & 4 children|
Total number of passengers is 65; the crew number 28. All the passengers MET WITH A HEARTY RECEPTION, Messrs McKellar, Gair, Buddle, and others keeping open house. A number of the single men were accomodated at the Temperance Hall, and rooms were found for the ladies at the different hotels. So great was the crush that beds were fitted up in the Banks themselves, some lying on the counters, others under them, and others again, who seemed of trustworthy appearance, in the strong rooms. Great credit is due to CAPTAIN BAKER, of the Staffa, who carried out a very difficult job in a most unexceptionable manner.
Incidents of the Wreck.
SECOND SIGHT OP A NATIVE CHIEF.
Paroti Taiwaiwai, one of the leading chiefs at Maungatapu, was waiting the arrival of the Taranaki, to visit his sister, who was ill at Gisborne. About nine o'clock yesterday morning, in Asher's store, he remarked in the presence of several persons, that the vessel had struck upon a rock, and that was delaying her. Surely he must have the gift of second sight.
The two men, belonging to the ill-fated Taranaki, who missed the return boat to the wreck, were, during yesterday afternoon, the centre of many an anxious crowd, to whom they repeated their oft told tale with marked good temper. THE ( KAREWA (or Tarewera) is an island about ten miles from Tauranga, and six from the entrance to the harbour, and is of a singularly rocky nature. The whole of the eastern, side is one sheer cliff, while on the south and southwest the coast is but little better. Strange to say the Taranaki struck at one of the few accessible points. for landing the passengers.
DEPARTURE OF THE STAFFA.
The first news of the wreck was gathered by many persons from the whistling of the S.S. Staffa prior to her departure to the scene of the catastrophe. A rush was immediately made to the Victoria Wharf, and not a few anxiously enquired, Do you take passengers ? Can I go with you ? Owing to the number of passengers on board the Taranaki it was, however, wisely decided that none except officials should be taken.
A CURIOUS COINCIDENCE.
It may not be generally known that the Taranaki has been wrecked before. She struck on a rock in. Tory Channel, and was nearly two years under water before being raised by a company, formed for the purpose. This happened on September 27, 1866, which was also a Friday. Superstitious sailors will make something out of the fact.
Bay Of Plenty Times 3 December 1878, Page 3
Slips announcing that a subscription was to be raised were immediately struck off gratis at this office, and several gentlemen, notably Mr E. M. Edgcumbe, Chairman of the Town Board, who worked very energetically, were busily engaged collecting money. Before night was over £57 was raised, which the Committee duly 'presented on Sunday moniing with the following address :
THE ADDRESS Tauranga, November 30, 1878.
"To Captain Malcolm, "Late S.S. Taranaki.
"Dear Sir— We, the undersigned passengers from Auckland by the S.S. Taranaki, now unhappily lost, desire to express to you our heartiest sympathy under the distressing circumstances in which you are placed. Most especially we desire to express our thankful appreciation of the care and watchfulness which you displayed in the performance of your duty during the night previous to and up to the moment of the disaster; while to your coolness and energy after the steamer struck, as well as to the similar qualities displayed by your officers, especially Mr. Holm, we feel, that under Providence, is mainly due the fortunate escape of us all from death or serious accident. The accompanying sum of money we place in your hands with the request that you will distribute it amongst the men lately under your command according to merit. We would particularly draw your attention to the exertions of the officers of the Steward's department and the little trainingship boy in saving property. Assuring you once more of our undiminished confidence in your ability as a commander, and that in any future voyage we should only be too pleased to sail under your charge, — we are dear sir, yours most sincerely, E. T, Gillon (Chairman); Alfred King; C. H. McLean, A. Leathes, B. T Chaytor, W. Benjamin, and 43 others."
See also - SHIPWRECK RELIC SALVAGED.
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