Wahine 50 Programme Announced
10 April 2018
The Wahine 50 Trust have planned a number of public events for the commemoration.
The events are designed to remember those who lost their lives and to acknowledge their families, the survivors, and all those who helped respond to the Wahine Disaster.
6.30am Dawn Service at the Wahine Memorial, Eastbourne
49 of the 51 people who died in the Wahine Disaster lost their lives on the Pencarrow Coast near Eastbourne. It is appropriate therefore, to conduct a memorial service on that coastline. The local community responded to the emergency in large measure, and many people will have strong memories of the appalling conditions that day. The survivors of the Wahine wish to pay tribute to the wonderful response they received from Eastbourne and the emergency services.
8.30am Eastbourne Remembers, Muritai School, Eastbourne
A Wahine display is being hosted at Muritai School in Eastbourne. The public are invited to visit the School after 8.30am onwards that day. The display will feature work from the school students along with other material provided from different sources.
10.00am Memories at the Museum, Wellington Museum, Queens Wharf
The Wellington Museum is the principal storyteller of Wahine day in New Zealand. They hold in their collection artifacts, photographs and documentary films of the disaster. A visit to the Museum is a must for all those interested in what happened and how the community responded. The Museum closes at 5.00pm.
11.30am - 4.30pm The Wahine50 ‘P.S. Are You Prepared’ display, Shed 6, Queens Wharf
The public is invited to visit a display of the emergency response organisations we have today. The Wahine disaster gave rise to the formation of several emergency services including the Life Flight Trust and the Wellington Volunteer Coastguard. Volunteers make up 94% of the people providing operational search and rescue response. This is a chance for the public to meet those who might well save their lives in the future, and the opportunity to join these organisations as a volunteer.
11.30am New Zealand Remembers, Wahine Memorial, Frank Kitts Park
Join the Orpheus Choir on the waterfront as we remember those who lost their lives in the Wahine disaster. This is an opportunity also to thank the very many people who, in the face of dangerous conditions, risked their lives to rescue and support the 683 surviving passengers and crew from the Wahine. The Orpheus Choir reminds us that the passengers sang as they waited to abandon ship and as they floated to the coast in their life rafts.
12.00 noon - 12.30pm The Flotilla Review, Wahine Memorial, Frank Kitts Park
At midday a flotilla of smaller craft will participate in a sail-past Review and a formal salute will be offered as the craft pass the Wahine Mast. During the Review, significant vessels and several craft that participated in the 1968 rescue, will be mentioned by a narrator as they move into view. A large crowd is expected on the waterfront for this occasion.
3.30pm – Seatoun Remembers, Seatoun School, Seatoun
Seatoun school is hosting afternoon tea and a display at the School. An invitation is extended to all who wish to attend, particularly those from the Seatoun community, many of whom will either remember participating on the day in 1968 or will know friends of family who were there.
The New Zealand Search and Rescue Council presents the annual NZSAR Awards to give formal and public recognition to those involved in search and rescue (SAR) in New Zealand. Searching for, and rescuing people, is a complex and often difficult task that occurs in all kinds of weather and usually in demanding locations. The Awards acknowledge the outstanding skill and commitment required to perform SAR in New Zealand’s Search and Rescue Region.
On Wahine Day, as it is known, our country was struck by the most ferocious storm in recent maritime history.
Cyclone Giselle, moving down from the Pacific, combined with another storm in Cook Strait and unleashed its fury. It left a trail of destruction across the country.
The Union Steam Ship Company’s ferry Wahine ran aground on Barrett Reef, listed and then sank. 51 lives were lost that day.
Fifty years on, a small group of survivors and rescuers involved in the Wahine disaster formed a trust to commemorate that fateful day. The commemoration events are designed to remember those that lost their lives and to acknowledge their families, the survivors and all those who helped respond to the Wahine Disaster.
As a legacy project The Wahine 50 Charitable Trust has been collecting stories from a wide range of contributors. The Trust’s focus has been on the collection of personal experiences to complement the official record.
Image: Warwick W.G.Pryce