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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1 (April 1, 1935)

The Wreck of the Delaware

The Wreck of the Delaware.

Early on the morning of September 4, 1863, the Maoris saw a vessel lying wrecked on the rocks off Whakapuaka. This was the Delaware, an English bri-gantine of 241 tons, a new vessel recently out from London; she had sailed from Nelson the previous day for Napier. A strong gale was blowing, and in endeavouring to beat out against it the vessel was driven on the rocks, about 100 yards from the cliffs, where she lay with the seas sweeping over her. The mate made ready to swim ashore with a line, but a sea caught him and dashed him on a rock, and he was hauled back badly injured. The natives on shore saw the wrecked craft, and several of them hurried along the beach until they reached the nearest point to the Delaware, eager to succour those in distress; some of them lit a fire on the shore and prepared for the reception of the imperilled mariners.

The three who came to the help of the crew were Julia Matenga, her husband and a man named Hohapeta Kahupuku. One of the crew threw a light rope, a lead-line, overboard, and Julia and the two men threw off their clothes and swam out, in spite of the great seas. They had no canoe or boat, but no small craft could have lived in that boiling surf. A terrifying sea was rolling in before the N.E. gale and breaking over the brigantine.

The three Maoris had a desperate struggle; it seemed half-an-hour before they were near enough to get the line which the sailor had thrown out. A rope was bent on to the ship's end of this line, and the Maoris hauled it ashore; the ship's end was made fast to one of the masts and the Maoris secured the other to a boulder on the narrow beach at the foot of the cliffs. Julia was the foremost of the swimmers and was the first to grasp the lead-line which the sailor threw. The swimmers dived under the great rollers that came roaring in