Underwater Heritage Group New Zealand
The Socabaya, the Sack of Russell and a curious case of Copper Bolts.
(This article originally published in the book 'Chasing the White Whale' by Lindsay Alexander)
While snuffling around dusty, tattered edges of forgotten nooks and crannies of Russell’s old history I recognised bits of a story worth the telling. Using a combination of luck and intuition, threads that tantalisingly appeared over an expanse of time and place were followed. A story has emerged that solves 170 year old mysteries and also encompasses a powerful Morality Tale.
Let’s begin with the ‘Sourabaya’, purportedly the ship that brought the cannon on the waterfront to Russell. But can we? The ‘Sourabaya’ is a fiction. She never existed, despite being mentioned in books, learned writings and worthy rambles about the Bay of Island’s past.
Here is the real story. And what a story!
Adventure's Cutter 1773
Queen Charlotte Sounds, 17th December 1773. Captain Tobias Furneaux of the Adventure had become separated from Cook in the Resolution and so entered Queen Charlotte Sound, the agreed rendezvous, which Cook had in fact, left just six days earlier. Relations with local Maori appeared hostile from the start, with thefts and confrontations. Furneaux sent the large cutter ashore in charge of John Rowe, with ten men, including the captain's black servant, to gather greens preparatory to leaving. When they did not return a search was mounted the next day, led by Lieutenant James Burney. He was of the opinion the cutter may have been stove in and the carpenter sent him with sheets of tin. Next to Grass Cove (Wharehunga Bay) they saw a large double canoe hauled up on the beach.
New Zealand Shipwrecks (Supplement 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Shipwrecks of New Zealand is lavishly illustrated with colour, plus many previously unpublished images of wrecks.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 …’