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NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES

THE LOSS OF THE SCOW KAHU
MARCH 1920
BETWEEN
MOTITI ISLAND (BAY OF PLENTY) AND AUCKLAND



Thanks to Irene Taylor for this.



SCOW KAHU MISSING    (NZ HERALD 7 April 1920 page 6)

 

FEARS FOR HER SAFETY

LAST SIGHTED IN GALE

CREW OF FOUR ON BOARD

(By Telegraph – Own Correspondent)

 

Fears are entertained for the safety of the auxiliary scow, Kahu, which left Motiti Island on March 24, and has not been reported since.  Shortly after the Kahu sailed heavy weather set in.  The steamer Tasman sighted a vessel resembling the Kahu on March 26, eastward of the Alderman Islands.  She was making seawards in the darkness.

 

The Kahu carried a crew of four, comprising Captain J. Leafburg, Mr. E. Sampson, owner and engineer, Mr. L. Taylor, deckhand, and a boy.

 

The Kahu had only four cases of benzine on board for her engines, and carried 592 sacks of maize, on account of Mr. H. Allen, of Tauranga.  Of this it is understood she had 87 sacks on deck.

 

When she left the island it was blowing fresh from the south-east, but veered to the northward.  Later it came on to blow very hard, and the Kahu would therefore get the full effort of a heavy south-easterly gale.  The fact that she had so little benzine and has not been seen or heard of since leaving the island gives rise to the gravest fears for her safety.  Mr. Allen, on whose account the maize was shipped, states that there was no other cargo aboard.  He has no insurance on the maize.  He was at Motiti Island when the Kahu left, and she got away with a favourable wind.  The launch in which he returned to Tauranga watched the Kahu out of sight, and the latter was then making good time and was in good weather.

 

Considerable anxiety is felt by the relatives of the owner of the auxiliary scow Kahu in Auckland.  The latter, Mr. K. Sampson, of Shore Street, Kingsland, is also engineer on the vessel.  His father-in-law, Mr W.C. Berridge, stated yesterday that nothing had been heard of the scow’s movements for some time.  It was known that she had been to Whakatane, and from there to Motiti, off Tauranga, where she had loaded maize for Auckland.

 

The fact that the little vessel was out in the gale of the date named has been established.  At any rate, Mr. Berridge said, a sailing vessel answering her description was seen on the night of March 26 by the Tasman en route from Auckland to Whakatane, heading out to sea.  It is thought that the night was too dirty for the scow to be able to reach Slipper Island for shelter, and that she made for the Aldermans further out.  She had no sextant nor chronometer aboard.

 

Mr. Berridge fears that the scow has either failed to make the Aldermans and been blown out to sea, or that she has gone on the rocks there.  In any case she would soon run short of oil, and there is danger that she may have gone down in the heavy sea.  It was thought that if the weather had been too rough for the Kahu she would have put in to the Barrier, but no word had been received from there up to last evening.

 

The matter was reported by Mr. Berridge to the Superintendent of Marine, Auckland, Captain Fleming, who yesterday telegraphed to the Minister for Marine for instructions as to making a search for the missing vessel.  In the meantime ship-masters are requested to search in the vicinity of the Aldermans in the hope of some trace of the Kahu being discovered.

 

The Kahu is a vessel of 25 tons register and was built at Omaha in 1899.  She is 75 ft overall, with a beam of 19ft 4in, and a draught of 4ft 1in.  She has been employed in the Auckland and Bay of Plenty trade for a number of years, and prior to entering that service she was engaged in the Auckland-Whangarei coal trade.

 

THE MISSING SCOW     (NZ HERALD 8 April 1920 page 4)


FATE STILL IN DOUBT
VESSELS ON THE LOOK-OUT

 

No further news has been received regarding the missing auxiliary scow Kahu, which is now 15 days out from Motiti Island to Auckland.

 

Coastal vessels leaving and arriving at Auckland have been instructed to keep a sharp look-out for her.

 

On Tuesday Captain Fleming, Superintendent of Marine at Auckland, telegraphed to the Minister for Marine for instructions as to making a search for the vessel, but so far no instructions have been received from the Marine Department.

 

The Kahu’s full crew comprised J. Leafburg, master, E. Sampson, engineer and owner, L. Taylor, A.B., and Stevens, cook and ordinary seaman.  All hands belong to Auckland.  Captain Leafburg has been in command of the Kahu for about 12 months, and is a capable seaman.  The owner has sailed in her for four or five years, while Able Seaman Taylor has also been in the vessel for over two years.  Stevens, who joined her a few months ago, resides in Napier Street.

 

ARRANGING FOR A SEARCH

(By telegraph – Own Correspondent)

WHAKATANE – Wednesday

 

Captain Berridge, brother-in-law of the owner and engineer of the scow Kahu, left Whakatane this morning with a view to arranging for a steamer to be sent out to search for the missing vessel.  If he is unable to secure a suitable steamer at Tauranga he will proceed to Auckland.

 

THE MISSING SCOW   (NZ Herald 9 April 1920 page 4)

 

SEARCH TO BE MADE

PARTY LEAVES TAURANGA

GOVERNMENT SENDING LAUNCH

 

A search for the missing auxiliary scow, Kahu, which has not been heard of since the night of the gale on March 26, when she was en route for Auckland with a cargo of maize from Motiti Island, is being instituted by the Marine Department.  This step has been taken at the request of Mr W.C. Berridge, whose son-in-law, Mr E. Sampson, is owner and engineer of the scow and among those on board her.

 

The Government launch, Nora, in charge of Mr. J.P. Bennett, inspector of fisheries, is to leave Auckland as soon as she can be provisioned and got ready for the trip, and proceed upon a search in the vicinity of where the Kahu was last seen apparently heading for the Alderman Islands.  These and adjacent islands will be visited and the searchers will go further afield if necessary.  The Nora is an oil launch, 36ft long and 9ft beam, fitted with a three-cylinder engine.  She is ordinarily used for patrolling the fishing grounds.  Mr. Bennett has an intimate knowledge of the coast and the islands in the locality where the scow was last seen, and therefore a thorough search of likely areas will be made.

 

In shipping circles it is thought that the Kahu is probably drifting out to sea, and that she may be in a dismasted and disabled condition.  Had she gone on the rocks during the gale, it is considered that by now some news of wreckage from the craft would have been received.  It is known that her stock of oil fuel was scanty, so that she would soon be without the means of making port by her engines.

 

Our Tauranga correspondent telegraphs that Captain Arthur Berridge, brother-in-law of Mr. Sampson, owner and engineer of the Kahu arrived from Whakatane on Wednesday night, and with four other men, left at 1.35 p.m. yesterday, to make a search of the Alderman and Mercury Islands.  Captain Berridge, who has had a very long experience on the coast, is of the opinion that the Kahu may have come to grief on one of the Mercury Islands.  This group consists of about fifty islands, which run out from the mainland, north of Mercury Bay, in a northerly direction, for about ten miles.

 

 

THE MISSING SCOW  (NZ HERALD 10 April 1920 page 6)

 

TWO SEARCH PARTIES OUT

 

A search for the missing auxiliary scow, Kahu, which has not been heard of since the night of the gale on March 26, when she was en route for Auckland with a cargo of maize from Motiti Island, is being made by the Government launch Nora.  The Nora, which is in charge of Mr J.P. Bennett, inspector of fisheries, left Auckland on Thursday evening and was to search in the vicinity of the spot where the Kahu was last seen, apparently heading for the Alderman islands.  The searchers intended to visit these and adjacent islands and to go further afield if necessary.

 

A telegram from Tauranga states that no word has been received from Captain Arthur Berridge and party, who left in the launch Hilda on Thursday to search the Alderman and Mercury Islands.

 

THE MISSING SCOW   (NZ HERALD 12 April 1920 page 4)

 

NO TRACE DISCOVERED

SEARCH BEING CONTINUED

 

(By telegraph – Own Correspondent)

Tauranga, Saturday

 

The launch party comprising Captain Arthur Berridge and four others, who left Tauranga at thirty-five minutes past one o’clock on Thursday afternoon in the launch Hilda to search for the missing scow Kahu, returned at four o’clock this afternoon.  The Hilda reached Opito Bay in the Whitianga district at midnight on Thursday.  She proceeded to the Mercury group on Friday, and cruised round all the islands and rocks in the neighbour-hood.  She then ran into Mercury Harbour, and met Mr. J.P. Bennett in charge of the launch Nora.  Captain Berridge also met the manager of Mercury Island Estate, who had already searched Mercury Island, but had found no trace of the Kahu or any wreckage.  Mr. Bennet, up till 3 p.m. on Friday, had not seen anything of the missing scow.

 

The Hilda then worked along the coast to Slipper Island, of Tairua, and made an exhaustive search of the Alderman Islands to-day, but failed to come across any sign of the Kahu.  The Nora was to search the northern and eastern coasts of the Great Barrier.

 

 

STEAMER ON THE LOOKOUT

EFFORTS UNSUCCESSFUL

 

The Steamer Chelmsford made an unsuccessful search for the Kahu in the vicinity of the Mercury Islands on Saturday.

The Kahu carried a crew of four, comprising of J. Leafburg, master, E. Sampson, engineer and owner, L. Taylor, A.B. and A. Stevens, cook and ordinary seaman.  All hands belong to Auckland.

 

 

MISSING SCOW KAHU   (NZ HERALD 13 April 1920 page 4)

 

SEARCH PROVES FRUITLESS

(By telegraph – Press Association)

Tauranga, Monday

 

The Marine Department reports that the launch Nora returned last evening after a fruitless search for the missing scow Kahu.  Mr J.P. Bennett, who was in charge of the launch, states that he made a thorough inspection of the Mercuries, Whitianga, Cuvier Island, the east coast of the Great Barrier, Mokohinu, and the east coast of the Little Barrier, but there was no trace whatever of the missing vessel.

 

The Northern Company’s steamers are still keeping a look-out.  The Chelmsford made a search on Saturday in the vicinity of the Mercury islands, but without success.

 

THE MISSING SCOW    (NZ HERALD 14 April 1920 page 6)

 

A SIGNIFICANT DISCOVERY

 

(By Telegraph – Own Correspondent)

Tauranga. Tuesday

 

A native of Motiti Island, named Rakatau August, was in Tauranga to-day.  He states that he formed one of a party of Maoris who were engaged on Sunday last in fishing about a mile northward of Motiti Island.  The party caught about two dozen schnapper, and every one of the fish contained maize varying in quantity from about two dozen to fifty grains.  The opinion is offered that the maize consumed by the fish may be from the missing scow Kahu, which was loaded with the grain.  Some of this may have been washed overboard or jettisoned.  Practically no grain was lost during the loading of the Kahu at Motiti, nor do the Maoris know of any being dumped or lost off the beach.

 

 

WRECKAGE REPORTED   (NZ HERALD 23 April 1920 page 4)

 

FOUND NEAR WHITIANGA

 

News was received in Auckland yesterday by relatives of the owner of the missing scow, Kahu, Mr E. Sampson, that wreckage had been thrown up on the Hot Water Beach, between Opito Bay and Kuotunu, near Whitianga.  The communication described the wreckage as being like a deck-house, and it is thought it may be part of the missing vessel.  No information in confirmation of the report had been received up to last evening by the Marine authorities in Auckland, though they had a report that some wreckage had gone ashore in Tairua Bay.  This was not believed to have any connection with the Kahu, however.

 

 

LOCAL AND GENERAL NEWS  (NZ HERALD 24 April 1920 page 6)

 

 

The wreckage found on Hotwater Beach, Whitianga, on Thursday, has been identified as part of the steamer Waiora, which was wrecked at Tairua over 12 months ago.  It was first thought that the wreckage belonged to the scow Kahu, now long overdue from Whakatane to Auckland with a cargo of maize.

 

 

MISSING SCOW KAHU  (NZ HERALD 22 May 1920 Page 6)

 

ALL HOPE ABANDONED

DISCOVERY OF LIFEBOAT

 

All hope of the safety of the auxiliary scow Kahu, which has been missing since March 24, has been abandoned.  A ship’s lifeboat, which was recently found on the south-east of the Little Barrier, was brought to Auckland by the steamer Kawau, and identified yesterday morning as belonging to the missing vessel.

 

The Kahu left Motiti Island on March 24 for Auckland with a cargo of maize, and has not since been heard of.  Shortly after the scow left the island, a south-easterly gale set in, and it is presumed that the vessel foundered.

 

Several vessels were sent out to search for her, but the finding of the lifeboat on the Little Barrier this week is the only trace discovered.

 

Her full crew comprised; J. Leafburg, master:  E. Sampson, engineer and owner;

L. Taylor, A.B.; seaman and A. Stevens, cook and ordinary seaman.  All belonged to Auckland.  The Kahu, 25 tons register, was built at Omaha in 1899.  She was engaged in the Auckland – Whangarei coal trade for many years before entering the AucklandBay of Plenty trade.


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