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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9 (April 1, 1931)

“Convent Bells.”

“Convent Bells.”

Recent mention of the small steamer Taniwha striking a snag and sinking in the Waihou River, near Puriri, in a fog, recalled to one's memory a little incident of goodness knows how long ago. It was on the maiden trip of that Gulf and river packet from Auckland to the Thames and Paeroa. The Taniwha was quite a smart ship, and the owners hired a band for the cruise, and invited various prominent citizens. We were steaming serenely up the Waihou on a beautiful Sunday morning. The peach-trees were all out in blossom as we went round Thorpe's Bend, and opened up a long vista of smooth, shining river, fringed with weeping willows that dipped their trailers in the water. The brass band, on the foredeck, was playing “List to the Convent Bells,” page 26 and like all bands, was doing its level best.

Suddenly there was a tremendous bump, a shiver of the steamer's hull, then another bump. The passengers fell into each other's arms, and slithered about the deck. “Convent Bells” stopped with a horrible discordant jerk; band and instruments went over in a tangled heap. It was not serious; we had only run on a submerged mud-bank. It was within tidal influence, and it was not yet high water. So the skipper set all hands to work running in a body from one side of the deck to the other, to roll her off. There were men of weight and substance there, and soon we were afloat again, and steaming away as smoothly as before. The band did not recover so quickly from the shock. It wasn't used to such startling interruptions of its harmonies, and the ship's steward found it necessary to administer first aid in many long pewters before jangled nerves recovered. “Convent Bells” were not resumed, but by the time Paeroa wharf was reached the band was playing “A Life on the Ocean Wave” as bold as brass.