Elements expose wrecked steamer

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 06:00 31/12/2010
RUSTY PLAYGROUND: Jade Wihongi explores the recently exposed Waitangi shipwreck on Patea Beach.
AMY VAN DYK/Taranaki Herald
RUSTY PLAYGROUND: Jade Wihongi explores the recently exposed Waitangi shipwreck on Patea Beach.

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High seas and strong winds have exposed an old shipwreck on Patea beach once again.

The Patea Co-operative Freezing Company's steamer Waitangi, which was used to transport Taranaki meat, ran on to the rocks on the western side of Patea mole on May 5, 1923. Patea resident Jim Baird said that the raw elements exposed the wreck every few years.

"It shows its face every now and then depending on the weather," Mr Baird said.

New Plymouth resident Tre Wihongi, 8, whose family were visiting Patea for the day, said he thought the wreck was about 55 years old.

"It's pretty cool. I kind of like shipwrecks," Tre said.

The grounding 87 years ago cut significant holes in her hull and the Waitangi was immediately deemed a wreck. There was much debate through the years about whether she should be removed from the beach or left to rust.

Over time the wreck prevented sand being blown over the wall into the Patea River.

She gradually disappeared from sight as the beach rose higher.

A heavy westerly exposed her in July 1937 and again in July 1978 but the sand quickly claimed her.

Built in England in 1889, the Waitangi was 120 feet long, 171 tonnes and had a top speed of 12 knots.

She was purchased by the Patea Co-operative Freezing Company in 1919.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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