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Passengers, crew, and a rescuer caught up in New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster tell their stories 50 years later.
Photos from Wahine Day – 10 April 2018
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Wahine 50 Programme
10 April 2018
The Wahine 50 Trust planned a number of public events for the commemoration.
The events were 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.
7.30am – 8.30am Songs They Sang, Wellington Railway Station
Catching the train on Wahine Day? Look out for the Wellington Community Choir, directed by Julian Raphael singing songs reminiscent of those sung by passengers on the stricken Wahine ferry and in lifeboats to keep their spirits up. Wellington Railway Station was the official reporting centre for survivors brought in by buses from the coastlines of Seatoun and Eastbourne on 10 April 1968.
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 will stay open until 9.00pm on this day.
11.30am - 4.30pm The Wahine50 ‘P.S. Are You Prepared’ display, Shed 6, Queens Wharf
Find out from today’s search and rescue experts how best to prepare for disaster on land and sea … and how to join them as a volunteer – over a cuppa served by the Salvation Army, who with others in the community provided the Wahine survivors with dry clothing, warm drinks and food, and where needed, a bed for the night.
11.30am New Zealand Remembers, Wahine Memorial, Frank Kitts Park
Join us at the Wahine mast memorial in Frank Kitts Park to remember the 53 who died and thank the many involved in the rescue and support of the survivors. The Orpheus Choir will perform a choral tribute – in recognition of the songs passengers sang on the stricken Wahine and in lifeboats in Wellington harbour on 10 April 1968. A flotilla steam-past of 40+ boats, including some used in the rescue, will follow.
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