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THE SINKING OF THE TAIAROA
SUNDAY 11 APRIL 1886
AFTER RUNNING AGROUND AT THE MOUTH OF THE CLARENCE RIVER, MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND

The steamer Taiaroa, bound from Wellington to Lyttelton, Akaroa and Dunedin went ashore near the Clarence River on Sunday 11 April 1886 during sudden heavy weather.

The Taiaroa carried 48 persons – 20 passengers (4 women and 16 men including a child) and 28 crew (including a stewardess). The four lifeboats were launched but only one made it to shore safely. All 11 persons onboard the Captain’s lifeboat made it safely ashore after sailing up the Wairau Rover and landing at Blenheim. This group consisted of the Captain, seven crew and 3 passengers. Three other passengers made it ashore including GRANT, McQUIRTER and HUTTON.

One aspect of this tragedy is that of the 34 who were drowned, only nine bodies were ever recovered. Five are buried at the Kekerengu Cemetery, three at Woodbank and one at Flaxbourne. Passenger lists did not exist and the following lists are taken from newspaper reports of the day.

SURVIVORS
CAMPBELL Duncan Chief Steward Crew
DALRYMPLE Samuel Engineer Crew
GRANT Gordon Sergeant AC Force Passenger
HARPER John - Passenger
HENDERSON Robert - Passenger
HUTTON Gilbert Civil servant of Wellington Passenger
MACKAY John AB Crew
McQUARTIER William Henry (Also referred to as John) AC Force Passenger
MORRISON Robert - Crew
OLLIVER Thomas - Crew
QUIN William Ships Boy Crew
TAIN William Fireman Crew
THOMSON George Urquhart Captain Crew
WEBB James Ships carpenter Crew
THOSE WHO PERISHED AS FAR AS CAN BE ASCERTAINED
ANDERSON Mrs - Passenger
BROWN M A (Female) Stewardess ? Crew
FERGUSON James of Taranaki Passenger
FIELDER Joseph Chief Steward Crew
FITZGERALD Mrs Wife of editor of Timaru Herald Passenger
GALBRATH Erskine Mr - Passenger
GAME Jessie Mrs - Passenger
GIBBS Mrs - Passenger
HANSEN Peter AB Crew
HARBORD Mr - Passenger
HAWKINS/HAWKINSON Mr Bootmaker Passenger
HILL D Lamp trimmer Crew
IRVINE Robert Fireman Crew
KANE J Fireman Crew
MARTIN Alexander - Passenger
McDONOUGH George Fireman Crew
McMILLAN P AB Crew
McPHEE John AB Crew
MONKMAN Robert Boyle Chief Officer Crew
MURRAY - Passenger
POWELL James 2nd Officer Crew
SMITH Mr - Passenger
SPOONER R Purser Crew
STRATFORD George 2nd Engineer Crew
UNWIN R Fireman Crew
VALLANCE Robert Hugh From Canada Passenger
WARD Mr AC Forces Passenger
WEST Carpenter Crew
WILLIAMS/WILLIAMSON* Richard/D AB Crew

The crew list also included two un-nanmed stewards and passengers were said to include an un-named young boy, an un-named Chinaman and possibly Mr PENTENGELL, a well-known boxer.

*Reports give crew member Richard WILLIAMSON at the wheel, but crew lists give a D WILLIAMS. Is this the same person?

Also see TAIAROA - for further information and newspaper reports.

Sources
The Marlborough Express – April 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 1886
New Zealand Shipwrecks 1795-1975 By C W N Ingram


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