PHOTOGRAPHY by donhammondimage



     The Wreck of the Aphrasia ...
     The Paddle-Steamer "Aphrasia", although not strictly a Far Northern wreck is
   worthy of mention. While not the first steamship to be wrecked in New Zealand it
     is the oldest and the circumstances surrounding her loss somewhat contentious.
     On 8th November 1864 Capt.Stuarts account of the Aphrasia's demise appeared in
       the "Southern Cross" Newspaper .....
  " The Paddle-steamer left Auckland 30th October on passage to Newcastle, Australia.
  Fine weather was experienced on the way up Northlands east coast but did not last.
  With Mangonui on the beam the breeze faded to nothing, only to back suddenly to the
  NW and strengthen. Capt.Stuart decided to stand in to the coast with the intention of
  obtaining shelter at Flat Is. and the Cavalli group. It was then found that the vessel
  had taken on a large quantity of water, the pump was put into operation and pumping
  continued through the night. Come morning a leak was discovered beneath the boiler
  and with the flow stemmed pumping continued for a further three and a half hours until
  the steamer was dry. At 7:00pm the Aphrasia got underway in an attempt to make
  the port of Russell, it was found impossible, however, to keep her free of water. At
  midnight the vessel was in a sinking condition and the Captain ordered the lifeboats to
  be lowered. Capt.Stuart's intent was to the beach the paddle-steamer but being
  unmanageable she went on to the rocks and sank immediately."

        But on the 16th Novenber 1864 the newspaper, "Lyttleton Times" carried a
  much different story, stating that, " The vessel Aphrasia, if not purposely lost then
  certainly no attempt was made to save her
  This was followed on the 17th November when the newspaper reported, "Four Seamen
  from the SS.Aphrasia have been apprehended on warrant by Constable Hammond and
  charged with scuttling the vessel. Others are "wanted" ..."
It would appear that the whole affair came to an unsatisfactory conclusion when
  on the 19th December 1864. a further article appeared in the "Otago Daily Times" ...
   "After lengthy examination by resident Magistrate and the Bench the decision, that in
   the absence of Capt.Stuart, (who had made himself scarce), there was insufficient
   evidence to proceed to trial and the crew were discharged." 
Later one of the crew
  members said that he knew Capt.Stuart had destroyed the ships Log Book after the
  wreck and that he believed the Captain had thrown the screw to the pump overboard.

         So ended the incident, the truth of the matter long lost near a century
         and a half ago. All that now remains are the slowly decaying remnants
           of the Paddle-Steamer "Aphrasia".