KAPONGA, steamer : The steamer was outward bound from Greymouth to Auckland with a full cargo of coal, when, on the afternoon of May 27, 1932, she stranded near the entrance of the Grey River and became a total wreck. The depth of water on the bar was 22 feet, and when the Kaponga sailed she was drawing 18 feet 6 inches. She was preceded to sea at a short interval by the Union Company’s Kalingo, which was not fully loaded. The Kaponga struck opposite the Signal Station, and subsequently moved out about twice her length. The sea was moderate, but the vessel’s bow was gradually veered to the northward by the swell until she lay across the inner bar.
Four feet of water was reported in the fore and aft compartments shortly after she struck. The stranded steamer’s position remained unaltered until the afternoon of May 28. The steamer Komata, from inside the harbour, and the steamer Kaimai, from the outside, made an effort with hawsers to bring the Kaponga’s bow upstream, with the intention of towing her into the river. The Kaponga was moved until she faced upstream, but the hull remained fast amidships. The sea rose with the tide, and southerly rollers moved the stranded vessel towards the northern breakwater. It then became evident that there was little chance of saving the steamer. At about 2.30 a.m. on May 29 the crew commenced to leave the ship, and all hands had abandoned her by 4.20 a.m., using a breeches buoy connected with the north breakwater to come ashore. At daybreak the same day seas were washing over the Kaponga, which had developed a considerable list. The engineroom was flooded fore and aft, and the bulkheads were stove in.
The Kaponga, No. 151,508, was a steel, screw steamer of 2,346 tons gross and 1,167 tons net register, built at West Hartlepool in 1925 by W. Gray and Company Ltd., and her dimensions were : length 280 ft., beam 44.35 ft., depth 18.95 ft. Her engine was of 274 h.p. nominal and 1,249 h.p. indicated. She was owned by the Union Steam Ship Company. (See plate 105.)