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.
|GRANT||Gordon||Sergeant AC Force||Passenger|
|HUTTON||Gilbert||Civil servant of Wellington||Passenger|
|McQUARTIER||William Henry (Also referred to as John)||AC Force||Passenger|
|BROWN||M A (Female)||Stewardess ?||Crew|
|FITZGERALD||Mrs||Wife of editor of Timaru Herald||Passenger|
|MONKMAN||Robert Boyle||Chief Officer||Crew|
|VALLANCE||Robert Hugh||From Canada||Passenger|
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.
The Marlborough Express – April 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 1886
New Zealand Shipwrecks 1795-1975 By C W N Ingram
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