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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Mystery Solved

Mystery Solved

Mystery attached to the disappearance of the cutter Wave from Wairoa in 1856. She had been built by some natives for Thaddeus Lewis. In official quarters it was feared that she had been lost on her way to Auckland. Some people believed that Lewis had made off to Valparaiso. An old man, who was known by the name Parker at Samoa, told Mormon missionaries in 1926 that he was the half-caste lad Smith whom Lewis had taken away. They had, he added, settled down there as father and son.

When s.s. Star of the Evening was wrecked at Pouawa in February, 1867, one of the crew swam ashore with a line, but it parted. A sailor, the cook, and a steward failed to reach the shore. The captain and four other members of the crew got ashore. Two passengers, who followed them, were drowned, and another fell off the forestay and also perished. Five sailors, who remained on the wreck, were saved next day. Divers failed to recover £10,000 worth of worn coinage that was on board. In December, 1918, a lad found a worn George III halfcrown dated 1817 on Tatapouri Beach.

Much excitement was caused at Gisborne on 1 November, 1885, when s.s. Wairarapa raced into the roadstead with volumes of smoke issuing from amidships. She had gold worth £50,000 on board. Fire had been discovered in a linen locker when she was 20 miles off Gisborne. All the cushions and movable fittings had been thrown overboard. Hastily, her passengers were landed on Kaiti Beach. The Gisborne Fire Brigade took its manual pump out on a punt and assisted to quell the outbreak. (The Wairarapa was lost, with 121 lives, on Great Barrier Island, on 29/10/1894.)

Flying a signal for a doctor, s.s. Manapouri entered Poverty Bay hurriedly on 26 February, 1886. One of the holds was filled with fumes arising from broken jars of nitric acid. Those who had gone down to investigate had been overcome and had had to be drawn up again. Chief Officer Morris carried out his night watch as usual, but he died after the arrival of the tender at the wharf in the morning. Seven of the crew had also to be brought ashore. R. Lloyd (a seaman) died at midnight, and Third Officer Laker on the following day.

S.s. Tasmania was southward-bound when she was wrecked off Mahia on 29 July, 1897. In dirty, thick weather she had entered Poverty Bay, but had been unable to communicate with the shore, and had left for Napier at full speed. Just before 11 p.m., the captain was informed that land was in sight, but she struck before the wheel could be put over, and sank at 2.15 next morning. Boats 2 and 4 landed safely at Mahia, and boats 1 and 3 came on to Gisborne. A small boat (in charge of the carpenter) got on to Kawakawa Beach, near Muriwai, after capsizing and losing a sailor and a passenger. The smallest boat (which was under the quartermaster) overturned in the surf, and her nine occupants were all drowned.

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A narrow escape from foundering was experienced by the ship Grace Harwar on 25 December, 1900. En route from Delagoa Bay to Gisborne in ballast, she shipped a big sea off Cape Kidnappers, and lost her bridge and three of her four boats. Her master (Captain Brisco) was washed overboard, but another wave landed him against the rigging and he saved himself. Nothing more was seen of a young sailor who was also carried overboard. It took a week to get the vessel on an even keel again. She was picked up by the Fanny (16/1/1901) and towed into Poverty Bay.

With a broken tailshaft, s.s. Taviuni (engaged in the Islands fruit trade) was adrift off the Ariel Reef on 29 August, 1902. One of her boats brought the news to Gisborne. S.s. Mimiro found her by means of rockets. Twice the tow lines parted. When the second hitch occurred the vessels were off Pakarae. As the weather began to thicken, the Mimiro had to put out to sea. The Taviuni dropped anchor for the night five miles from Gable End Foreland. Next morning s.s. Omapere brought her into Poverty Bay.

Stripped of her main set of sails by fire a fortnight before off Hicks Bay, the ship Samuel Plimsoll was discovered on 30 September, 1902, near the Ariel Reef with only a small sail on the foremast. She was pursuing a southerly course. The trawler Beatrice failed to catch up on her, and the dredger John Townley, which was also sent out, followed the trawler back into port. Next day s.s. Hawea towed the disabled vessel into Poverty Bay.

The yacht Kia Ora (2½ tons), which left Gisborne for London, via Cape Horn, on 26 November, 1903, was under the command of Captain Horace Buckeridge. He had been with Scott to the Antarctic, and, for a time, had served as mate and cook on the much-travelled four-ton Tilikum whilst she was in New Zealand waters. He had confirmed his reputation for derring-do by rowing across the basin of Waimangu Geyser when, at any moment, he and his craft might have been hurled hundreds of feet amid flying rocks and scalding steam. When the Kia Ora was 300 miles south-east of the Chathams, he fell from the rigging and was fatally injured. His companion (G. H. Sowden) brought the craft back to Gisborne.

A violent gale was raging at midnight on 23 June, 1912, when the Star of Canada dragged her anchors in Gisborne roadstead and was driven on to Kaiti Beach. Captain Hart had decided at 10 p.m. to put to sea, but, as the fires had been drawn to enable the boilers to be cleaned, steam could not at once be got up. Another anchor was about to be dropped when the vessel struck. Many of the residents were aroused by the booming of her distress signals, but it was not until H. Amos (of the Post and Telegraph Department) went round and read her morse messages that it became known that she was aground. Daylight revealed that she was well down by the head. The salvage tug Terawhiti, from Wellington, was unable to release her. On 3 July she broke her back and was abandoned to the underwriters. The bridge was bought by W. Good and placed alongside his home in Childers Road, where it attracts the attention of all visitors.

When the s.s. Arahura and the Home liner Waimate collided in Gisborne roadstead at 11 p.m. on 1 March, 1917, both were under way. The Arahura had a large number of passengers for Auckland, and most of them had retired. Some of them, wearing lifebelts, hastily appeared on deck. As a precautionary measure, the boats were swung out. With several feet of water in her engineroom, the Arahura was edged close to the groyne. The Waimate's stem was twisted, and she was holed in her bow above the waterline. Both vessels went on to Auckland after temporary repairs had been made.