PHOTOGRAPHY by donhammondimage









          The "Elingamite" ...    
       On the 5th November 1902 the Huddart Parker Steamer "Elingamite" slipped away
  from Sydney wharf to begin a passage across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. On board a
  crew of 58 and 136 passengers. There was a full compliment of general cargo in the holds
  and stowed in the aft turret
17300 of currency destined for the Bank of New Zealand.
  It could not have been foreseen that four days later the "Elingamite" would steam into the
  West Island of the Three Kings group, 30 kilometres to the west of Cape Reinga. She
  would sink in 20 minutes and in all 45 lives would be lost. While the loss of the steamer will
  rank as one of New Zealand's worst maritime disasters, the attempts in following years
  to recover the fabled "bullion" would claim even further lives. Following the sinking, a series
  of three expeditions to the wreck-site took place to both locate the "Elingamite" and to
  recover the coin on behalf of the Insurance Company. On all occasions the principals and
  divers were driven off by the wild and extreme conditions that prevailed at the West King.
  Following a third failure the Underwriters abandoned all hope of recovery and the
  Elingamite treasure was now open to all comers ......
    September 7. 1905 - Principal Mr Gow on board the "Emma Simms" and Diver E. Harper set sail to recover
      the bullion only to return to Wellington 5 weeks later, a failure apportioned to bad weather and heavy
    February 8. 1906 - Mr Gow charters the tug "Pelican" and with Diver Percy Leigh sailed for the Three Kings.
     Diver Leigh was to make 5 descents and proclaim that "the gold had gone".
    March 1906 - An Australian Syndicate charter "Pelican" and arrive at the wrecksite, the diver was to get 
     into severe trouble on the wreck and near perished.

    January 1907 - The auxiliary Schooner "Huia" with Diver Mr.E Harper aboard head for the "Elingamite" and
     at last, a recovery of
1500. The expedition returned to Mangonui to re-stock the provisions, arriving
back at the site January 22. Harper immediately resumed diving. Disaster was to strike with Diver Harper
     dying from the "bends". The "Huia" returned to Mangonui on the January 23rd with Mr. Harper's body.


    December 1907 - Divers Clarke & Leigh aboard the "Claymore" raised a further
700 from the wreck before
      being chased off the site by bad weather. They returned on January 1st. 1908 and dived the wreck
      heavily for a day and a half before weather again, forced them to abandon the salvage and return to
      Mangonui with Diver Clarke dying from the "bends" on the way down the coast.

The wreck of the "Elingamite" was then abandoned for over 50 years until March 1957,
  when a diver, Les Subritzky made an exploratory descent on the wreck. This intrusion came
  very close to ending in disaster with Subritzky being swept away in the tide-race, only just
  being rescued in time by his boat crew. It would not be until 1966 when Kelly Tarlton &
  Wade Doak rediscover the wreck that any real salvage was to take place.
     Although much of the "bullion" and cargo have been recovered from the wreck of the
  "Elingamite" it will still provide "treasure" for many years to come as the remote location
  and hostile nature of the Three Kings Islands help guard its'secrets well.