Wahine Disaster – 53 Years Later

Wahine sinking in Wellington Harbour

Wahine sinking in Wellington Harbour. Dominion Post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1968/1647/14-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22327912

On the morning of 10 April 1968 one of New Zealand’s worst recorded storms hit Wellington. This storm produced freak winds of up to 230 km per hour around Cook Strait. The Christchurch–Wellington ferry Wahine was driven onto Barrett Reef, at the entrance to Wellington Harbour.

When the ship hit the reef, one of its propellors was knocked off and an engine was damaged. The Wahine could no longer be steered properly so it drifted into the harbour before leaning to starboard (nautical term for the right side of a ship). Because of the heavy list (another nautical term for a ship leaning dangerously in the water), only four of the eight lifeboats could be launched, and most of the inflatable life rafts flipped in the savage seas.

The Wahine finally capsized at 2.30 p.m. Most deaths occurred on the Eastbourne side of the harbour, where people were driven against sharp rocks by the waves. Of the 734 passengers and crew, 51 died that day, another died several weeks later and a 53rd victim died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck.

It remains one of New Zealand’s worst maritime disasters, after the wreck of SS Penguin in 1905.


Want to know more?

Wellington City Libraries Heritage pages have got loads of info, photos and footage from that fateful day: https://wcl.govt.nz/heritage/wahine

Other useful sites are:

Many Answers

Museums Wellington

Christchurch City Libraries


Want to read all about it?

No safe harbour / Hill, David
“Stuart and his twin sister Sandra are coming home to Wellington on the ferry. Stuart knows he’ll enjoy the trip – he’s a good sailor. But it’s April 1968 and the ship is the Wahine. As the tragic events unwind Stuart and Sandra must battle to stay alive. A vivid and compelling picture of the Wahine’s last hours.” (Catalogue)

 

Continue reading

Kids’ Club Review by Ollie: No safe harbour

No safe harbourNo safe harbour, by David Hill (1942-)

No safe harbour is a story based on the true event of the Wahine disaster.
The main characters are Stuart and his twin sister Sandra. The captain sailed in to the harbour 201 times in the past and the 201st time was the time that disaster struck during a horrific storm that hit Wellington. The 15 year old twins were sailing back from Christchurch . They fought, like twins can do – but when it came to survival they stuck together. It was amazing story of how strangers and family support each other. READ IT.

5 stars

Reviewed by Ollie from Island Bay and Owhiro Bay School , 10 years old

New Non Fiction: Horrible Histories, Lost and Found and Shipping Disasters.

Story of the Titanic illustrated by Steve Noon.

Interested in boats and ships, especially history of famous shipping disasters? Then this is the book for you. This is the tragic story of the Titanic, the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner the world had ever seen, which sank on her maiden voyage on April 13th 1912. Find out all you need to know about the Titanic from when the Titanic was built on 10th March 1911 to its untimely end. You will also find out what happened on the night it sank, why the Titanic sunk so quickly? and how many people were saved and how many lives were lost.

 Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders: Egyptians.

Tony Robinson has written a lot of books about Ancient History. He has now done it again with his latest book on Ancient Egypt. Why did the gods look so strange? Why tomb raiding was a bad idea? Why they loved cats? How to make a mummy in eight easy steps?You will find out all the answers to these questions and more in this action packed read.

   
From the Lost and Found  series:

Tutankhamun and other Lost Tombs by John Malam.

Interested in History and archaeology? Want to read about tombs that to be lost but now found, for example the tombs of Tutankhamun, King Phillip II and Liu Sheng? Then this is the book for you. You will read and uncover the secrets behind the world’s lost towns, tombs, shipwrecks and treasures, and find out how archaeologists discovered them.

 The Titanic and other Lost Ships by John Malam.

If you enjoyed Story of the Titanic, then you will love this book! You will find out all you need to know about ships lost and found around the world. Read all about the sinking of the Titanic to the discovery of its resting place, the recovery of a treasure filled Spanish galleon and much, much more. Great if you are interested in boats and ships.

 The Terracotta Army and other Lost Treasuresby John Malam.A fantastic read that describes the historical circumstances that led to treasures such as the Terracotta Army, Trojan treasure, the Dead Sea scrolls and the gold of El Dorado being lost or hidden and the archaeological discoveries that found evidence of these treasures.
From the Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary:

 Dark Knights and Dingy Castles. Ever wanted to know why one nutty knight chopped off his own finger? The revolting truth about a gong-farmers job? What went on in gruesome castle garden robes? Then this is the book to read. Discover all the answers to these questions and foul facts that make the history of knights and castles so horrible.

 Cruel Kings and Mean Queens. 

Ever wanted to know which king died after falling off the toilet? Why people thought King John was a werewolf? Why Queen Anne’s feet were covered in garlic? Then this is the book to read. Discover all the answers to these questions and details of some of the more obscure facts and habits of British monarchs and much, much more.