TARANAKI, steamer: The vessel left Auckland on the afternoon of November 28, 1878. The weather was very thick, and shortly after 10 p.m., the ship anchored. At daylight the next morning the weather had cleared somewhat, and the steamer proceeded on her voyage. Later the weather became very thick again, and at 9.30 a.m. in dense fog, the Taranaki struck on Karewa Island. The latter is a small island, one-eighth of a mile in circumference, and 350 feet high, situated between Katikati and Tauranga. The boats were lowered, and in less than an hour and a half all hands, 75 passengers and a crew of 32, were safely landed on the island. During the night following the stranding, the steamer broke in two and became a hopeless wreck. She was valued at Â£16,000, was insured for Â£10,000, and when sold at auction realised only Â£38.
The Court of Inquiry concerning the wreck of the Taranaki found that the casualty was due to an error of the compass; misconception of the distance run; and the master neglecting to take soundings, the weather being foggy. The master had his certificate returned, but was ordered to pay the costs of the inquiry.
The Taranaki, No. 52,840, was an iron, screw steamer of 443 tons gross and 327 tons net register, built at Port Glasgow, County Renfrew, in November, 1865, by Messrs. Blackwood and Gordon. Her engines, of 90 h.p. (nominal), were made by the same firm, and her average speed was 10 knots. Her dimensions were : length 186.5 ft., beam 24.8 ft., depth 13.9 ft., and the certificate granted by the Marine Board of New Zealand allowed her to carry at sea 82 saloon passengers, and 98 steerage or fore-cabin passengers. She was under the command of Captain J. Malcolm, and owned by the Union Steam Ship Company.
The Taranaki had been wrecked ten years previously. The vessel left Wellington on August 19, 1868, and at 4.30 p.m. struck on Boat Harbour Rock, in Tory Channel, 12 miles from Picton.
The rock was one of a reef at the entrance to the channel, and for several minutes the steamer continued to pass over and strike the reef. For two hours the spare boats, manned by crew and passengers, were used in an endeavour to tow the ship, then drifting fast up the channel on to the nearest beach, but was abandoned when it wa,, seen that she was sinking fast. On rounding the point of Bowdens Bay, the Taranaki, which then had seven feet of water in the engine-room, touched on a shoal and almost immediately wens down, stern first, in about 12 fathoms of water very near the shore. The passengers, numbering nearly 100, were first landed at the various beaches near the place where the steamer struck, but later embarked in the steamers Airedale and Ladybird; which were despatched from Wellington to render assistance. After being submerged for thirteen and a half months, the Taranaki was successfully raised and towed into Wellington Harbour by the steamer Ladybird, on October 1, 1869. A special interest attached to the circumstances connected with the recovery of the ship was the fact that she was the first vessel of her tonnage that had been raised from such a depth of water in New Zealand.