Monday, June 13, 2011

The Tokatoka tragedy. Three drownings in 1871




In May 1871 three people were drowned, when the punt they were in, swamped with water then sank. The inquest found that the punt had been overloaded with kauri gum - which resulted in teh drownings of two men and a young boy named Francis Norwood. The bodies of the two men Henry Tullock and James Arthur were recovered. The body of Francis was not recovered until September of the same year.

NORTHERN WAIROA.

SAD ACCIDENT.—TWO LIVES LOST.

One of those sad accidents which cast a gloom over a neighbourhood, cause sorrow in families, and fill some hearts with anguish, occurred at Tokatoka on the 9th instant. A youth named Frank William Northwood, and a man named Henry Tullock, were drowned by the upsetting of a boat. The youth was related to Mr .J. Fitness, of Tokatoka, (through his wife) and employed by him in the stores of Messrs. Must and Co. During Mr. Fitness's absence in Auckland, the care of the store was left in the deceased Tullock's charge. He appears to have been very anxious to do all he could during his absence, and made a voyage to Kaihu on Monday with two tons of gum, and returned to Tokatoka about three o'clock in the morning of Tuesday. He loaded again, and started with two tons and 13 cwt. more gum, Frank North-wood, Mr. Fitness's brother-in-law,being with him in the boat, at the helm. When abreast of Mr. Jenkins', it came on to blow very hard, and whilst Tullock was endeavouring to take in a reef, the boat gave a heavy lurch, took in water, then righted again, and eventually sank. Captain Stanaway, of the Clyde ; Mr. Manning, of the Packet; Mr. Stanaway, of Tokatoka, and several of the settlers on the banks of the Wairoa, spent considerable time in endeavouring to raise the boat and to find the bodies. The boat came to pieces with the efforts made, and, I regret to say, the bodies have not been found. The elder deceased was a married man, and leaves a family, now residing at Melbourne.—[" Herald's" Correspondent, May 16.]

- Auckland Star 22 May 1871

GREAT NORTHERN WAIROA: CORONER'S INQUEST.

On Saturday, the 20th May, an inquest wag held at the Tokatoka Hotel, before Thomas Stirrup Webb, Esq., Coroner, and a jury of settlers, upon the bodies of Henry Tullock and James Arthur Brown, who were drowned while conveying gum up the river. Joseph Fitness, George Smith, and James Kelly were examined. The jury returned verdicts to the effect that both persons came to their deaths by drowning, owing to the upsetting of a punt loaded with kauri gum, on the Mangonui river, and they expressed their opinion that the punt was overloaded, and wished to express their disapprobation of the practice of overloading boats.— It appears Tullock has been a captain of a ship in the other colonies. He leaves a wife and several children to lament their loss, at Melbourne. The body of the little boy, who was drowned at the same time, has not yet been found. Both the bodies were buried side by side (on Sunday last, May 21, when a number of relatives and friends attended. The funeral service was conducted in a very solemn and impressive manner by the Rev. Moses Breach, who used a revised form of the Church of England. —[Correspondent.]

- The Daily Southern Cross 29 May 1871

GREAT NORTHERN WAIROA : INQUEST.

On Monday evening, September 18, a coroner's inquest was held at the Tokatoka Hotel, before Thomas S. Webb, Esq., Coroner, on the skeleton of a little boy, found on Sunday, the 17th instant, at hiqh water mark near Tokatoka by Mr. William Paton. The remains of the corpse were identified as those of Francis Northwood, who was drowned on the 9th of May last in company with Henry Tullock, by the swamping of a boat too heavily laden with kauri gum. With the bones were found a boot, sock, the buckles of a belt, parts of a coat, pants, and shirt, which Mr. Fitness and his brother could swear belonged to and were worn by the ' boy Northwood at the time of his being drowned. The jury unanimously agreed in the verdict of Accidental death by drowning. As soon as the decision was given, and the warrant issued for interment, the grave was dug by moon and lantern light between those of two others who met with their deaths in the same way a few months ago. The burial service was read by the Rev. Mr. Breach, whose voice sounded forth the Christians' hope, amid the hills above and dales below, as literally — " We buried him dark at the dead of night, The sods with our shovels turning, By the struggling moonbeam's misty light, And our lanterns dimly burning." — [Correspondent.]

- Daily Southern Cross 25 September 1871

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