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Kaipara Shipwrecks

1840-Siren (Refloated -but condemned)
1841-Sophia Pate
1846-Mary Catherine
1853-Posthumus Kaipara Bar/Helena between Manukau & Kaipara
1855-Star of the East
1864-Loss of the Lotus
1871-Wreck of the Midge
1878-The Telegraph
1880-James. A. Stewart
1880-Prarie Flower (Hobart Town Prairie)
1885-Mary Anne Annison
1885-Western Star
1893-Unidentified Vessel (Possibly an earlier wreck)
1900-Lord of the Isles

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NZ Gazette 27th June 1840

....The Schooner Hannah had proceeded to the Kiapara Harbour, to assist in getting off the brig SIREN which was wrecked some short time since.


NZ Gazette & Wellington Spectator 30th May 1840

The "Bee" reports the total wreck of the Aurora at Kiapara (Kaipara)
lately from this port.

The Sophia Pate

NZ Gazette & Wellington Spectator 20th October 1841

The Sophia Pate after visiting Auckland and the Bay of
Islands, proceeded to Kiapara (Kaipara) to load timber.  She unfortunately
got upon a sand bank at the entrance, and become a total wreck.  Melancholy
to relate, out of 24 passengers on board, twenty-one met a watery grave. 
The crew were saved.


New Zealander 23rd May 1846

On the 25th April, the fine barque Mary Catherine, Capt. Howlett, 400 tons, left Auckland for the Port of Kaipara on the western coast, to take in a valuable cargo of spars for England.  It is with regret, we have to announce that advices were received last Sunday, overland, with account of the Mary Catherine having being driven on a sand-bank in the harbour of the Kaipara, after parting from the chain and warps, in that most tremendous gale which occurred during the night of Saturday, the 9th May.  It is most satisfactory to state, that no lives were lost, and that what cargo there was on board of copper, oil, flax, and kauri gum, will be saved.

The Mary Catherine arrived off  the harbour of Kaipara, on the afternoon of the 5th May, when she lay to until the following morning, Wednesday, the 6th; - when she entered the heads, with a north-east breeze, and work in, beautifully, between the shoals. The Tory shoal was weathered at 5 p.m., and she anchored at 7 p.m., in nine fathoms water, off Point Dawson; she remained at this anchorage until Saturday, the 9th, when, at 3 p.m., as the barometer was rapidly falling and the weather bore a very threatening aspect, the barque got underweigh, blowing hard at south-west, under double reefed topsails; but at the first cast of the lead the water shoaled from six to two fathoms, and she immediately struck. However, the stream anchor was immediately got out ahead, with 140 fathoms of good warps, and she was hove off to six fathoms water; but the breeze increasing to a perfect gale, it was found impossible to get her into deep water, and the larboard chain veered out, until her heel was in three fathoms water, and still holding onto the warps.  The gale during the night increased to a prefect hurricane, and continued until the following Wednesday, with increasing violence.  On Monday, the 11th, the ship parted from both warps and chain, and was driven height on the sand-bank.  It then being the full moon, the spring tides,  added to the force of the gale, forced the vessel higher on the bank.  A survey has been held on board the vessel by the captains of other ships in the harbour of the Kaipara, where there are so few facilities as well as inhabitants, will be so great, that it will be more to the interest of the underwriters and all parties concerned, that the vessel should be publicly sold as she now lies.

Mary Catherine Rebuilt -
Renamed the Charles

Nelson Examiner & NZ Chronicle 23rd October 1847

The ship Charles, built from the wreck of the Mary Catherine,
at Kaipara, sailed from Auckland for London on the 16th of September.

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The Barque Helena wrecked between Manukau and Kaipara

The Barque Posthumus wrecked
at Kaipara Heads

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle 26th November 1853

By the Sydney newspapers we have news until the 8th of
October.  the violent gales of wind which were experienced in the early
part of September, noticed by us on the receipt of our last intelligence from
Auckland, proved very disastrous to shipping.  The barque Helena was
wrecked on the West Coast, between Kaipara and Manukau, with the loss of the
captain, mate and four hands. 

The Barque Posthumus has also been wrecked in entering Kaipara
Harbour, but no lives lost.


LOSS OF THE STAR OF THE EAST                                                                         

Southern Cross 6th Feb 1855

We regret having to record the loss of the ship "Star of the East," Captain A. Ashmore, which occurred off Kaipara, on the morning of the 30th January.

The following are particulars, as far as we have been able to ascertain, of the unfortunate occurrence:-

The "Star of the East" was timber laden, and had been waiting for some days for a fair wind to enable her to proceed to sea; on the morning of the 30th ult. a strong breeze set in from the North, and the Capt. immediately made all sail in order to get to sea, unfortunately before the vessel was clear of the outer shoal, the wind fell light, with puffs from the S.E., there being no hopes of getting the ship through the main channel, the Pilot recommended that an attempt should be made to get to sea by the Fanny Channel.  Owing to the lightness of wind, and the ebb tide, the attempt did not succeed, and the vessel struck in the Fanny Channel.  The boats were cut adrift, the long boat filled, and was washed overboard; one of the gigs was also stove, twenty men got into the remaining boat, while the Captain was stunned, by a blow received from some of the falling rigging; on recovering he round two life buoys, one of which he fastened on, he handed the other to the Chief Officer, who had remained on board, then jumped overboard and swam to the remains of one of the boats which was floating bottom upwards, where they remained until the crew having reached the long boat, and bailed her out, came to their assistance, in about an hour and a half afterwards.  During the time the Captain and Chief Officer were on the bottom of the boat, they saw three sharks swimming around them.  After some time all hands reached the North Head; and eventually Mangawhare, the residence of H. Atkin's, Esq., where they were hospitably received; and intel of the unfortunate catastrophe was immediately forwarded to Auckland.                                                                            

Wreck of the Lotus

Taranaki Herald  3rd September 1864

The Schooner Lotus, Capt. Nelson was wrecked on the Kaipara bar on the 18th ultimo, when bound for Taranaki with 60,000ft of timber.  Vessel a total wreck - no lives lost.

Otago Witness  10th September 1864

....The Schooner Lotus was quite new, this being her second trip only.  She is said to have cost L2200.  The crew suffered greatly from hunger before being rescued from the wreck.

Daily Southern Cross 12th October 1864

From the latest accounts from Kaipara, we learn that the ill-fated schooner Lotus, which was recently wrecked at Kaipara Heads, had been safely beached and had not sustained any serious damage.  The Wild Wave was still attending her for the purpose of rendering what assistance might be required.


The Schooner Midge came to grief at Poutu while crossing the Kaipara Bar on 15th December 1871.  The following is a contemporary account taken from the Daily Southern Cross 18th December 1871:-


News was received in town yesterday of the total wreck of the fine schooner Midge, inside Kaipara Heads on the 15th of December.  To Messrs L.D. Nathan and Co. we are indebted for the following particulars taken from letters just received by them from Captain Stewart.  The Midge left Auckland on the morning of the 9th of December, with a general cargo of merchandise for Ahipara and Aratapu Saw Mills, where she was to load 70,000ft of timber for Dunedin.  The Midge arrived at Ahipara on Wendesday the 13th December, after fine weather passage.  She landed a portion of her cargo, but night coming on had to stand out to sea, arriving at the Kaipara Heads on the 14th.  Took on board the pilot and proceeded over the bar; the weather at the time being fine, with a heavy roll on the bar. At 3 pm on Thursday last the Midge struck at Poutu, inside the Kaipara Heads, and near the mouth of the Wairoa River.  The weather at the time was fine (at all events in the river), though a high sea was running.  The crew were all safely got on shore, and every means used to save the cargo, but without success.  A few hours after the schooner struck it was found that she had six feet of water in her hold, and that her back had been broken.  The crew were then set to work to save the spars, sails etc, the seas all the time making clean breaches over the vessel.  At noon on Friday last all hopes of saving the vessel were given up, the sea still running high and continuing to break over the Midge; to was seen that she was breaking up fast. 

Mr Thomas Peacock and Mr Stewart (of Steward and Anderson) who arrived in Auckland from the scene of the wreck on Saturday night last, report that a great portion of the cargo of the vessel and a quantity of her timbers had been washed ashore before they left on Friday evening.  The Midge was insured in the New Zealand office for one thousand four hundred pounds, and a portion of the cargo was insured in the Pacific, but to what amount we are unable to learn.

It will be in the remembrance of our readers that the Midge, (then a screw steamer) came out from London about
five years ago, under the command of Captain Loutitt, Captain Stewart (her owner) and his family being passengers by her.  Shortly after her arrival, the Thames gold fields were thrown open, and the Midge's machinery was at once put in order, and she was placed on the Thames trade, in which she continued until faster vehicles were placed in opposition.  She was then taken off the trade, and after her machinery had been taken out, she was transformed into a schooner, and since then until the time of the unfortunate mishap that has occurred to her, has been successfully engaged in the South Sea Island trade.  The Midge was originally built for, and employed as one of the pilot boats in the English Channel. 


(Daily Southern Cross - 1st January 1872)

An official enquiry was held at the Custom-House on Wednesday last, before H.S. McKellar, Esq., Collector of
Customs, and Captain Clayton, Nautical Assessor, into the cause of the wreck of the schooner Midge, at Kaipara.  The following evidence was given:

David Arthur Stewart Master of the Midge:
I was master of the schooner Midge.  I hold a New Zealand certificate as master of steamers, and a mate's certificate from the Board of Trade.  The Midge sailed from Auckland on the 9th December, and arrived at Kaipara on the 14th.  I took the vessel over the bar myself at about 2 a.m. and came to anchor off the Pilot station in 3.5 fathoms. I was boarded shortly afterwards by the pilot (Mr. Chapman), who took charge of the vessel.  We started about 1 p.m. When off Poutu Point, a strong ebb tide at the time (a three quarter ebb), the pilot anxious to stem the tide, kept close to the bank.  The pilot was paying every attention to his duty -attending to the lead himself.  When at 3.5 fathoms the helm was put hard to port, but it was too late, her heel
touched the sand, and she fell broadside on to the bank.  The weather at the time was fine and not much sea.  At the first of the flood, the wind freshened, and a heavy sea set in, which drove the vessel hard up on the bank.  The waves came broadside onto the rocks, and striking hard, knocked the schooner's bottom in and broke her back.  The vessel now lies a total wreck, full of water, sanded up outside and in.  All hands, at daylight, the next morning, were employed in saving cargo, spars and sails etc.  The exact position is between a quarter and half a mile south of Poutu Point.  There is no buoy marking the outline of the bank.  The wind was S.W.  I consider the value of the vessel to be one thousand eight hundred pounds.  It was insured for One thousand four hundred pounds.  The value of the cargo was about one hundred and sixty pounds, which I believe was partly insured.  The pilot was in a perfectly fit state to his duty.  - Martin Henry Burrell, mate of the Midge, and holding a master's certificate from the Board of trade No. 5,880, also gave evidence.

George Prowse Chapman Harbour Master of the Kaipara Station: I am a master mariner, holding a master's certificate from the Royal Navy.  I am Harbour-master and pilot at the Kaipara station.  I boarded the Midge about north of the Otamatea channel, near Tapora spit channel.  I got under way, as she was not in a safe position, and steered for the Wairoa.  I ported the helm when I sounded at 7 fathoms, she did not answer her helm at all.  I then got 3.5 fathoms.  She then touched the ground.  I think the tide took her on the starboard bow and swept her round the edge of the bank.  It is very steep there.  I was about half a mile from the shore.  She struck about 2.50 p.m.  The officers and the crew tried to save the vessel.  The nature of the bottom is soft sandy rock. (The rest of the witness's evidence was corroborative of Captain Stewart's and his officer's).

John Edwards Able Seaman on the Midge: 
I was engaged as an able seaman on board the schooner Midge, and was on board on the 14th December last.  I was at the wheel at the time of the casualty, about 2.30 p.m.  The pilot was in charge of the vessel.  I was steering by signals from him and not by compass.  He was at the lead himself.  The first sounding I heard was 6 fathoms, next 5.5 fathoms, and last 3.5 fathoms.  He sang out to me to port the helm.  I did so.  There was a strong ebb tide running down, about half-ebb - I should think over five knots; very strong.  I noticed the vessel did not appear to answer her helm very well, scarcely at all.  The helm was a-port 5 or 6 minutes before she struck.  the pilot cam aft twice, and asked if the helm was hard a-port.  I said Yes.  As soon as we struck, we got a kedge anchor out with the intention of heaving her out.  When she floated again as soon as the tide began to make, a heavy sea set in, and as soon as she began to float she labour very heavily.  Her anchor was let go, but it seemed to be of no good.  I thought she would go to pieces.  The place where she struck is hard sand, and it appears to me to be about twice the vessel's length from the Wairoa Channel.  The boat was smashed to pieces alongside.  We go to shore at low water about 6.30 a.m. of the 15th; the vessel was then about half embedded in the sand.  We saved all the cargo that was in her, and the sails, spars etc.  In my opinion the vessel is a total wreck without any possibility of recovery. The pilot appeared to be perfectly sober, and capable of doing his duty.

This was all the evidence taken, and the depositions will be forwarded to Wellington. 




Evening Post 28th March 1874

The Brigantine 'Hercules" bound to Sydney with a
full cargo of timber from Aratapu Mills, when ashore at Kaipara Heads. No
probability of getting the vessel off. The cargo will probably be saved.


Evening Post 26th January 1876

Mr Pearce's three-masted schooner Melaine unfortunately has
been stranded at Kaipara, but it is hoped she will be got off without serious
injury. It appears that she missed stays beating in against a fresh easterly
breeze, although plenty of room was given her to stay. The starboard anchor was
let go, but the cable parted and before the port anchor, which let go as quickly
as possible, could be brought back to bear, she made a stern board, and struck
heavily astern, then coming  broadside on, with the chain across her bows,
carrying away her cutwater. As she was bumping very severely, and there
appearing great danger of the stern-post carrying away, more chain was let go
and she was beached. Captain Creagh then finding nothing more could be done for
the time, ordered the crew ashore, everything valuable being taken out of the
schooner, as well as a supply of provisions, and so much cargo as could be got
at.  A sail tent was rigged up and the crew camped out on the beach. 
The New Zealand Herald, however says - "There is very little chance of her being
saved, as the weather is so very rough and squally, and a westerly wind would
probably cause her to become a wreck.  The Captain arrived at the Kopuru in
a small cutter on Sunday afternoon, and announced the disaster.  Captain
Bowton of the schooner Marmion, now lying at the Kopuru, returned with him to
hold a survey conjointly with Captain Lowry the Kaipara Pilot. As the vessel
drifted astern out to the Spit, some sheets of copper were displaced at that
part, but the vessel was sound.  It seems unlikely she can be got off,
there being no steam tug available at this port; but doubtless all that can be
done will be tried." The Melaine was partly insured in an English office.

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The Cutter Telegraph

West Coast Times 1st March 1878

Auckland, 28th February 1878

The cutter Telegraph is ashore at Kaipara Heads.  The
cargo will probably be saved.  The vessel and cargo all uninsured.


Evening Post 9th October 1880

A telegram received by Messrs. McKenzie and Ross from Captain Colin McDonald of the Magellan Cloud states that the James A. Stewart had been stranded on the North Spit last night and abandoned by the crew. There were no signs of men on the vessel. The message also stated that the brigantine did not appear to be much damaged. A later telegram from the harbourmaster at Kaipara states that there were no signs of the crew.

The James A Stewart is a brigantine of 170 tons register, and is owned by Messrs McKenzie & Ross of Auckland. She was built at Novia Soctia four years ago, and arrived here from New York two years ago last April. She was insured in the New Zealand Company for 1500. The vessel left Auckland some time ago for Kaipara, where she was to load timber for Adelaide. She was under the command of Captain John McLellan for some considerable time. The pilot crew from the Kaipara Pilot Station went to her this morning, and found her high and dry on the beach abandoned, and none of the crew were to be seen. The vessel did not appear to be injured. She lies about three miles outside the North Head, Kaipara.
The owners have subsequently received the following telegram from Dargaville;-
"Messrs McKenzie and Ross.-James A Stewart got inside North Spit yesterday with masts gone. Hull came on beach last night. No tidings of crew at 8 this morning. Will send particulars from Heads. - J. CHRISTY SMITH, Harbourmaster."
News from Helensville states that the steamer Minnie Casey arrived there, bringing news that the James A Stewrt left Kaipara Heads last night with a fair wind. It is supposed the wind fell light, and the vessel drifted ashore with part of her sails set. A party left the Heads for the vessel, but found no trace of the crew. They boarded the vessel which was high and dry, and found the compass and chronometer intact, one boat smashed on deck, and one boat ahsore uninjured. The deck load was undisturbed.
THIS DAY, No intelligence has been received of the crew wrecked in the brigantine James A Stewart.


West Coast Times 7th January 1880

The brig Prarie Flower is reported ashore at Kaipara Heads. She is believed to be the Hobart Town Prairie, a regular trader to Kaipara.

Wreck of a Barque at Kaipara

Evening Post 23rd February 1885

A Kaipara telegram states that the barque Mary
Anne Annison is reported ashore on the North Spit Head. She was bound out for
Sydney, having loaded logs at Tuhua. The steamer Kina sighted her in perilous
position, but it being ebb-tide she could do nothing towards her rescue. 
There was no intelligence concerning her at the pilot station when the Kina
passed. The wind is light southerly.  The crew will reach the shore safely,
but there is no hope for the vessel. The Mary Anne Annison is owned by
McClutchie & McIntosh Christchurch, and was insured for
125 in the South British, and also in the New
Zealand.  Her cargo consisted of 180,000 feet of baulk and sawmill timber,
the shippers of which were Stone Bros., Auckland, and the consignees Stone &
Co., Sydney. It was insured for 500 in the New Zealand office.

Wreck At Kaipara

Evening Post 26th August 1885

The brigantine Western Star with a cargo of timber from
Kaipara for Lyttleton, has gone ashore at South Head.  She is expected to
float off.

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Evening Post 28th March 1885

Auckland, this day.

A telegram from Kaipara announces that the
barque Matthew, 367 tons, owned by J.C. Ellis of Newcastle, New South Wales, is
wrecked at Kaipara Heads, a mile from the lighthouse, and will soon break up. 
All hands are saved. She was bound for Sydney with 18,300 feet of baulk timber,
and 20,000 flitches on owner's account.


Evening Post 21st February 1890
Auckland 20th February. News received from Kaipara states that the barque Splendid which went ashore at Port Albert last week is a total wreck, the vessel being hopelessley damaged. The whole starboard side of the barque has given way and caved in.

Unidentified Wreck

The Wreck at Kaipara

Evening Post 18th March 1893



The brands of the logs which came ashore from the wreck on
the Kaipara Bar are dissimilar to any used on the Wairoa River, and they
correspond with the Hokianga brands.

It is now conjectured that the wreck is that of one of the
timber vessels which sailed from Hokianga some time ago and have never been
heard of.

Loss of the Cuthona

(By Telegraph - Press Association)

Evening Post 8th April 1899


The Nautical Court of Enquiry as to the wreck of the
barquentine Cuthona at Kaipara exonerated Captain Pearson and the officers from
blame and returned their certificates.

Evening Post 3rd October 1900

Auckland this day. The barquentine Lord of the Islaes, from Sydney, went ashore north of the North Sandspit end (?at Kaipara) at 11 o'clock last night and became a total wreck. The crew was saved. The vessel had a cargo of bonedust.

Wanganui Herald 27th February 1905
The barque Kinclune, stranded at Kaipara some months ago was floated on Saturday. She was driven ashore today and will become a total wreck



Taranaki Herald 15th May 1905

Auckland, May 15 - A Kaipara Heads telegram states that the barquentine Neptune, from Wellington, went ashore on the North spit at 6.30 a.m. today. It is feared she will become a total loss. The sea is very heavy, and is driving the vessel up to the beach. The crew of the vessel landed safely in their own boat, and expect to save their effects when the tide ebbs.

A telegram to the Collector of Customs at Auckland states that the Neptune is a total wreck.

Later:- The Neptune broke up during the night. The captain and crew lost all their effects.

Grey River Argus 3rd September 1906
Auckland Sept 1. The Auckland based barque Defiance, went ashore at Kaipara Heads on Tuesday last, has been abandoned as a wreck.

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