Kia Ora 1908

Kia Ora 1908

KIA ORA, schooner : Stranded and became a total wreck on Nelson Rock, Kawau Island, on December 14, 1908, three of her crew of four being drowned. The only survivor was a seaman who reached safety after a desperate struggle for life in the face of appalling difficulties. The Kia Ora was bound from Ngunguru to Auckland with a cargo of kauri logs. The mishap occurred about midnight, during a gale which raged along the coast, the schooner going ashore on a jutting reef on the outer side of Kawau Island. She struck in intense darkness, with a heavy sea running, and at the time it was impossible to see the bow of the vessel. The master, thinking the Kia Ora was well clear of Kawau Island, and wishing to keep clear of Canoe Rock, altered his course two points to starboard. Almost immediately afterwards the Kia Ora struck a submerged rock and was immediately swept by a heavy sea. A sea smashed her against the rocks, carrying her spars overboard. The cook was swept away by the same sea and was never seen again. The scow commenced to break up, and the master, his son, who was one of the crew, and the survivor, found themselves clinging to a rock which was swept by occasional seas. At length, when daylight broke, the survivor said he would not stay there to be drowned by the incoming tide. He struck out for the shore, and landed at the foot of a steep cliff. He could see nothing of the captain and his son, and it was surmised that they followed the survivor’s example and tried to swim ashore, or were washed from their hold on the rock. The Kia Ora broke into several pieces, one part of the hull being upside down.

The finding of the Court of Inquiry was that the loss of the vessel was caused by the negligent navigation of the master in hugging the land and attempting to pass between Flat Rock and Kawau Island whilst a strong wind, almost a gale, was blowing from the north-east, with a heavy sea and very thick weather.

The Kia Ora, No. 115,205, was a wooden, schooner-rigged scow of 69 tons register, built at Auckland in 1903, and her dimensions were length 87.2 ft., beam 24.5 ft., depth 4.6 ft. She was owned by Messrs. W. J. and W. C. Macklow, of Auckland, and commanded by Captain Edward Piercy.

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