Underwater Heritage Group New Zealand
Historic Wrecks Fasing Away PDF Print E-mail

Article as appeared Friday 13th June 2014

Outdoors: Historic wrecks fading away

Dave Moran measures a ship's anchor while surveying an early 18 century wreck
site in Tonga. Photo / Darren Rice

 

New Zealand has 2800 known shipwrecks but not many are sitting upright and in good condition, like sunken pirate ships portrayed in children's comics and cartoons.

Wave action and corrosion transform shipwrecks into ugly piles of metal faster than most people would imagine.

Kiwi wrecks usually rust away in murky anonymity, though where it's economic to do so dive operators may purchase the salvage rights.

That's in order to winkle out the cargo, recycle scrap metal and other materials of interest. But wrecks have more than scrap value.

As an abrupt full stop in the affairs of men and woman, and sometimes their final resting places, shipwrecks capture our imagination. Older ones are revered by historians and archaeologists seeking time capsules from a bygone era. A shipwreck may recall heroic struggles to survive, heart breaking tragedies and ruinous financial losses.

Some Kiwi wrecks conceal dark secrets, or - as with ships destroyed here by German mines - events of historical importance.

A few contain valuable artifacts, or even hidden treasure.

 

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New Zealand Shipwrecks (Supplement 2) PDF Print E-mail

New Zealand Shipwrecks suppement 2

This, the second edition of the Companion to New Zealand Shipwrecks builds on the original 1936 book, New Zealand Shipwrecks by Ingram & Wheatley and seven further editions, the 8th edition being published in 2007.

Shipwrecks of New Zealand is lavishly illustrated with colour, plus many previously unpublished images of wrecks. It also lists the whereabouts of bells from our shipwrecks including many images, the first such list.

The first edition of the Companion, Shipwrecks of New Zealand, published in 2009 corrected errors in the 8th edition and added more unrecorded wrecks. This second edition adds another 30 pages and again adds previously unrecorded wrecks as letters and diaries surfaced with more details and more information discovered in our National Archives. However mysteries still remain such as the story of an ancient wreck in Aotea Harbour and identification of the wreckage recently excavated at Carters Beach in Westport.

 

While this book is essentially maritime history it also gives many insights into our early social history, such as the entry for the Volunteer wrecked at the Fox River, where ‘A sailor, dead for seven summer days was placed on the bar room floor of Kelly’s hotel awaiting the coroner. The patrons kept drinking, one even astride the body …’

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Brass Patu

 

 

Joseph Banks’s Brass Patu in New Zealand

Joseph Banks had 40 brass patu made in Eleanor Gyles’s brass foundry at 9 Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, London, in March 1772 in anticipation of taking them and other gift and trade items on Captain Cook’s second voyage of exploration to the Pacific. They were 14.43 inches (36.5 cm) long and were engraved by Thomas Orpin with Banks’s name, general family crest and the date 1772. When Banks did not go he “ordered everything belonging to [him] to be removed from the ship.” [Beaglehole, 1961: 937.] Charles Clerke, his protegé and friend, had been master’s mate in the Endeavour and was second lieutenant in the Resolution. He thanked Banks for his assistance on 31 May 1772, and added “Wish you’d send a Venture by me, of one of your small Cags [casks] of large nails, for by what I hear, they are much better than any of my freights.” Banks had ordered eight casks as nails were highly prized in the Pacific. They were flat spikes, usually four or five inches long, which Maori would grind to a fine edge to make chisels or to a point for drilling holes or use as spear points. While nails provided by the government would carry its broad arrow symbol, those taken privately by officers would not. Banks met the request and Clerke wrote from Sheerness on 17 June: “am very much oblig’d for the Cagg of Nails - think I am now set out completely freighted for the South Sea Marts, hope to make a good trading voyage of it ... and show away in a curious Cabinet of Miti curiosities at my return.” [Chambers, 2008: 121, 128.] He is the only officer, apart from Cook, whose correspondence with Banks has been published. There is nothing in his log of the voyage, or letters after it, to show that he (or anyone else) had any of the brass patu on this voyage.

 

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Unknown Object

We are after information about the pictured item that is made of brass and was found while diving at Niue Island.
Although I have found no similar items on the internet we thought it may be for placing an imprint on a wax seal?
The item is around 13 cm tall, 5 cm across the base and heavy for its size. Any indication you could give would be most welcome."

 

Unkown Object

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Remains of the Boyd DVD

Remains of the Boyd DVDThe DVD about our project looking at what remains of the Boyd is now finished and available to buy. We look at why the Boyd was here, what the Boyd may have looked like, and briefly cover the massacre but don't go into any detail as that is already covered in the DVD "The Tragedy of the Boyd" as our goal is to look at the remains as they are today. This is an on going project and during the process of making this one we created a few more questions that will need to be researched in the future. On this DVD we show the first video shot of the Boyd as it is today.

The DVD has a running time of 36 minutes. Copies can be purchased by filling in an order form which can be downloaded, order form here and posted in with a cheque. If paying by cheque, the DVD won't be posted until the cheque has cleared.

 
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