Sunday, April 3, 2011



Just over twenty-one years ago the disaster to the Ventnor attracted considerable attention not only in these waters, but overseas. The reason was that,. besides a cargo of coal, this Illfated steamer had almost 500 Chinese bodies (or the remains of bodies) on board which were consigned to China for re-burial.

On October 26, 1902, the Ventnor left Wellington for Hong Kong, but on the following day she struck a rock to the south qf Cape Egmont. The ship started to leak, but nothing could be done to cope with the inrush of water, so she was headed towards Auckland. However, at 9 a.m. on October 28 a bulkhead gave way and the ship had to be abandoned suddenly when about ten miles from the Hokianga Light.. A lifeboat with the master, Captain -H. 6. Ferry, and twelve others aboard was dragged down as the Ventnor sank, but the remainder of the ship's company was saved. In, all there were 40 men on board, nine of them being Chinese body attendants.

The Ventnor, a vessel of .6500 tons gross, belonged to Gow, Harrison, and Company, Glasgow, and had been built in 1899, so she was a comparatively new ship. Her cargo on this trip consisted of -5347 tons of coal consigned to the Admiralty at Hong Kong and valued at £4500, 499 Chinese coffins, and 144 sacks and 22 bales of fungus. The coffins were insured for £5400 and the fungus was insured for £320. It was her first visit to New Zealand. Where she went down the water was particularly deep and salvage was out of the question, so many of the coffins must lie there to this day. ,

A considerable number of the remains of the dead Chinese on board were disinterred at the Karori cemetery arid shipped at Wellington 'for Hong Kong. The Chinese who had been concerned in the shipment here were reported to be very greatly affected at the fate which had overwhelmed the remains of their friends. Evening Post, Volume CXVI, Issue 115, 11 November 1933, Page 22

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