H.M.S Osprey 1846

H.M.S Osprey 1846

H.M.S. OSPREY, brig: At about 3 p.m. on March 11, 1846, the brig was totally wrecked about 18 miles north of Hokianga. On Monday, March 9, the Osprey, left Whangaroa for Hokianga, calling at Mangonui, which she left the same day, and rounded the North Cape at 6.30 p.m. On the 10th the vessel made the western coast and the captain was able to take an observation, which showed that his command was in the latitude of Hokianga, but the weather coming on thick and hazy, the brig was kept off the land until the evening, when it cleared. She then stood in, fired two guns to announce to the pilot at Hokianga that she was off the harbour, and again stood out to sea for the night. On the following morning a high southern headland, similar to Hokianga, was seen, with what was presumed to be the pilot’s house, but which subsequently proved to be a white spot on the cliff. Soon afterwards, perceiving a red flag run up, it was confidently anticipated that it was the entrance to Hokianga, and the brig stood on over the surf, bringing the northern and southern heads in line.

After crossing the breakers the vessel touched ground, but it was thought she was merely on the bar. Almost immediately she struck with increasing violence, and a succession of shocks brought the alarming conviction that the vessel was ashore, and that it was not the entrance to Hokianga, but of Herekino or False Hokianga. The guns were instantly thrown overboard, the masts cut away, which in falling with the sails set towards the shore, dragged the Osprey still higher upon the beach. On the tide receding, the officers and crew were able to land about 2 o’clock next morning with their small arms and some dry ammunition which had been saved from the wreck. All the stores were landed by the crew, assisted by some 150 friendly Maoris. There was no hope of refloating the brig, as the shore on this part of the coast is extremely shallow for a long distance seawards, with heavy surf and breakers even when the wind is off shore.

The Osprey was a brig mounting 12 guns, under the command of Captain Patten. The commander, officers, and part of the crew arrived at Gravesend on December 6, 1846, in the Posthumus, and were ordered on to Portsmouth, where a court martial was to be held concerning the loss of the brig.

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