NEW ZEALAND's FAR NORTH
Wreck of the Aphrasia ...
Paddle-Steamer "Aphrasia", although not strictly a Far Northern
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
Fine weather was experienced on the way up Northlands east coast but did
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
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
continued through the night. Come morning a leak was discovered beneath
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
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
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
from the SS.Aphrasia have been apprehended on warrant by Constable
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
"After lengthy examination by resident Magistrate and the Bench
the decision, that in
the absence of Capt.Stuart, (who had made himself scarce), there
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
wreck and that he believed the Captain had thrown the screw to the pump
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