Saturday, August 20, 2011

One last song at Kaihu


The police authorities received word to-day that Mr Wainhouse, railway manager at Dargaville, dropped dead last night in the Kaihu Hotel, at nine o'clock. An inquest will be held, probably on Monday.

The Hon. E. Mitchelson received a telegram to-day which shows the death of Mr. Wainhouse took place under sensational circumstances. It appears that Mr T. H. Barstow was formerly stationmaster at Dargaville, but he was appointed secretary of the Mitchelson Timber Company and resigned his position. Mr Fox was temporarily in charge of the railway station, and Mr Wainhouse, late stationmaster at Rotorua, was transferred to take the place of Mr Barstow.

Last night a farewell social was tendered to Mr Fox, and while singing a song at this function Mr Wainhouse dropped dead.
It is unnecessary to say that this brought the social, to a close. When the sad occurrence became known it caused quite a gloom at Kaihu and adjacent districts.

Auckland Star 29 July 1899

A moment in 1913 at Takapuna Beach (Sketch)

I have a love of old photographs. I sketched this last December from a great book loaned to me. The original image had a scene of Takapuna Beach in 1913 with boats and of course the kids enjoying the beach. These two figures caught my interest. It gives us an idea of what it was like back in those days. Not much different to today with families enjoying the sea.

Mishaps At Herekino

If anyone ever decides to do a trip of Northland then take the West Coast back down towards Hokianga. The drive is worth it. On the way stop in and check out the settlements around the region. I haven't been to the small settlement of Herekino in 20 years. Like all places on the coast it has had its own stories to tell. I found a few short snippets about a fire bug being in the area. Between the years 1909 -1912 fires were reported including the burning down of the public school, and an alleged attempt to blow up a local resident's house. Little comfort for those living in the area at the time when an alleged arsonist was on the loose. The sadder one was the bursting of a dam which killed one person.

 (Per United Press Association.) AUCKLAND November 26. The Inspector of Police has received notification that the public school at Herekino was destroyed by fire last night. The circumstances lead to suspicions of incendiarism.

Wanganui Herald 27 November 1909

Sensation at Herekino.
Auckland, July 19
An attempt was made on Sunday night at Herekino to blow up the residence of Mr Powell, a member of the local county council.

Shortly after the family had retired to rest there was an explosion, and one of the rooms was filled with smoke. The inmates heard a horse galloping away. The constable found an  empty treacle tin and a length of fuse under Mr. Powell's bedroom.

The occurrence is supposed to be the work of the fiend who some time ago started the fires in the district and was not captured.

Northern Advocate 19 July 1910

[BY TELEGBAPH— PRESS ASSOCIATION.]  AUCKLAND, 22nd April. A gumfields store at Herekino, owned by J. Bergham, was destroyed by fire in circumstances that suggest burglary and incendiarism. The property was uninsured.

Evening Post 23 April 1912

WHANGAREI, November 16
News has been  received at Whangarei that a fresh dam burst yesterday at Herekino. Two Maoris working in the vicinity were caught by the sudden onflow and washed away. One was killed and the other rescued with difficulty, seriously injured.

Ashburton Guardian 17 November 1916

Friday, August 19, 2011


A trip away from Northland History this time. This time a rather fishy tale - a rather large one that occured in Port Chalmers back in 1901. I came across the image in Flickr Commons a while back. Finally I've managed to locate the story behind the image of a large great white shark with its captors standing proudly behind it. The sad part is Great White Sharks are now on the endangered species list. We have them cruising in the Kaipara Harbour near where I live. Years back visiting Shelly Beach near Helensville a young child I still recall seeing a dozen large sharks all dead left to rot on the beach. It was a sign of the times, and also the same year the movie Jaws was released - that was 1976.

A large shark has been prowling about the lower harbour for some time past, and up to Tuesday night evaded all the efforts of the fishermen to take it. However, at nightfall on Tuesday, when Mr John Noble, a well known, lower harbour fisherman, was returning home, he was informed that the monster, some 18ft long, was in the vicinity of  Mr. W. Innes's fishery.  Mr. Noble, who has previously taken several sharks in the Port Chalmers waters, at once manned his boat and went in pursuit, succeeding, after a hard contest, in harpooning the creature off the George street wharf.
 The fish was then towed round to Tunnage's fishery to be hoisted up. Here what might have been a very serious accident occurred, for a number of young and old of both sexes desirous of seeing the shark made their way round to Mr. Tunnage's fishery and took up a position on the landing-stage designed for the reception of fish. In all, the unexpected visitors must have been between 30 and 40.
 The landing stage (only intended to receive fish) proved unable to support the weight, and it sank, taking its occupants into deeper water than they eared to encounter. One young lady, seeing the stage was sinking, very pluckily held on to a wire rope stretched above her head, and succeeded in sustaining herself and two friends. Some few bruises were sustained by some of the young people on the stage, but eventually everyone was landed.

Otago Witness 25 September 1901

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Another New blog - Ship Wrecks NZ

I've added on another new blog to the Back Roads blog. Ship Wrecks NZ will concentrate on disasters and mishaps of New Zealand Shipping. I've transferred over most of the posts I've done here on Back Roads so they are all in one place. I still have another to add yet. Back Roads and Ship Wrecks NZ are repositories for my research which is there to share. I would highly recommend also you check out the outstanding Timespanner Blog which covers all subjects to do with New Zealand Heritage. Lisa its author started Timespanner in late 2008. It's perhaps the best heritage blog in Australasia. Well worth following and worth a read.

The Isabella de Fraine

On the 14 July 1928 the schooner (ketch) Isabella de Fraine was sunk while crossing the bar at Hokianga with the loss of 8 lives. She had been well known to the Auckland shipping scene, plying her way along the Northern New Zealand coastline carrying goods from one port to the other. Sadly on that afternoon the weather was not kind to her nor her crew. Waves rolled the ketch over and all 8 hands on board were lost to the sea.

The Isabella de Fraine was built at Camden Haven (Balmain) in New South Wales, Australia by J.W. Davies, and registered in Sydney in 1902. She had a weight of 110 tons (gross) and was reported as being owned by A.J. Frankham Ltd. She was fitted with an auxiliary oil engine of 60 hp. For some years the Isabella de Fraine had run on the Auckland-Gisborne trade before being transferred over to the Auckland-Hokianga service.

At the end of May 1927, a year prior to her sinking the vessel had almost met the same fate.



(By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post.")

AUCKLAND, 30th May.

The auxiliary schooner Isabella de Frame, in charge-of Captain Kennedy, whilst coming up the Hokianga Harbour, struck a submerged log off Karaka Point, which knocked a hole in the forward part .of the hull. The pumps were manned, and finding the vessel making water, the captain beached the vessel and plugged the hole up with a sack of flour.

The cargo is considerably damaged and is now being unloaded at Rawene Wharf, after which the vessel will be beached at Kohukohu for repairs.

It is fortunate the accident happened where it did, as if the schooner had struck outside the bar there would have been a. great risk of total loss.

- Evening Post 21 May 1927

For a further year the vessel continued on with her trade runs until the fateful day of 14 July 1928 came. The Evening Post were the ones to report the regretful news...



Two men —the harbour master at Hokianga and his assistant — were horrified witnesses of the loss of the well-known schooner Isabella de Frame on Saturday afternoon. Struck by a heavy sea while apparently out of control on the Hokianga Bar, she capsized and sank, and search parties have failed so far to find any trace of her crew of eight.

Eight lives were lost when the auxiliary schooner Isabella do Frame capsized at the entrance to Hokianga Harbour at 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon. The victims formed the entire crew of the vessel.

It is the gravest maritime disaster in the history of New Zealand coastal shipping since the steamer Ripple foundered with the loss of 17 lives off Cape Palliser on 7th August, 1924

. The vessel was approaching the entrance to the harbour when she was suddenly caught by the wind and a heavy swell, and turned completely over.

The captain was thrown from the rigging, and with the other members of the crew, was carried under water as the vessel turned over. The witnesses of the foundering saw no sign of the crew after the schooner capsized. For twenty minutes she drifted upside down, and then turned slowly over and sank. The tide was running almost full when the schooner attempted to take the bar, and why she did not go straight through is baffling to seamen who have learned the story of the wreck from the eye-witnesses.

It is suggested that perhaps the rudder became loose, and it is stated, that when the vessel turned over the rudder was not seen: This swift drama of the sea was witnessed by Captain Mitchell, harbour master, assistant, Mr. Bryers but they were powerless to do anything, and they were alone on an isolated part of the coast.

They at once reported the wreck to nearby townships, and by nightfall many search parties had been organised. Throughout the night and again yesterday the rugged coastline was combed by searchers in the faint hope that some of the crew might have reached the shore; but their efforts; were in vain, the only evidence of disaster being pieces of wreckage and cargo washed ashore.


The names of the crew are: — Captain A. Berridge, aged 47, married. D. Teixeira, mate, aged 53, married. A. Kendrick, engineer, aged 32; married. H. Trevarthen, assistant engineer, aged 22, single. E. Merritt, cook, single. F. Liewendahl, able seaman, single. A Suvanto, able seaman, single. M. Kennedy, ordinary seaman, single.


The Isabella de Frame was carrying between 40 and 50 tons of cargo, including a small quantity of fruit and some case-oil. She was insured with the Hartford. Insurance Co., but the amount is not available. The Isabella de Frame was well known in Auckland shipping circles, and has been engaged in tho New Zealand coastal trade for over ten years. She was a wooden schooner of 110 tons gross, owned by A. G. Frankham, Ltd., and built at Camden Haven:, in the north of New South Wales, in 1902, She had an auxiliary oil engine of 60 h.p. After running for a considerable time in tho Gisborne-Auckland trade, she was transferred to the Hokianga service, trading first from Auckland, and, in more recent months, from Onehunga to Hokianga.


Graphic details of tho scene were given by Captain Mitchell, who said: "I sighted the schooner at 10.45 a.m. She was coming from tho north under sail, and by Semaphore signals I notified her at 1.30 p.m. to keep to the south. About ten minutes later I observed the vessel starting up her engines, and then I hoisted the signal, "Wait for the tide at 1.50."

"I wanted the vessel to bo in a good position, but then I saw something which seemed odd. She was under power of her sails again, but presently the engines were started for the second time, and she went on the port tack. At 3:40 p.m. the crew took in the mainsail and the vessel made toward the south channel about a quarter of an hour later."

"At this moment I put up the signal; "Take the bar" I hoisted the Semaphore to show that the schooner was to turn inward, and come over the bar, but she did not take notice of my signal, and stood off to the northward just outside the bar."

"Then I dropped the Semaphore and watched the captain carry on past the bar and go south to the edge of the main, channel. Again I put up the Semaphore to come into the harbour. This she did not do. She turned out and then suddenly made for the bar. She jibed when almost on the bar and taking a run on a sea, it appeared as if she would never; stop."

" Then she went broadside on, and did not seem under control. The booms swung across the decks, and the craft listed and was hit by a swell. Then she turned over."

Captain Mitchell at once ran to his home, and telephoning to the police, he gave the alarm which spread swiftly to tho townships in tho district. — Mr.. Bryers, who remained on watch with his telescope trained on the floating hull, saw tho Isabella de Fraine spring up from the sea and then go down finally.


The Harbourmaster's station is isolated, and accessible only by motor launch, aud leaving their station, which is on the,south side of the harbour, both men boarded the Harbourmaster 's launch and sped for the north side. They ran along tho waters edge vainly searching for men. Two other men came running along the beach, and the four continued the search, but nothing but flotsam was sighted. Helpful Maoris galloped up on horses, but nearly three hours elapsed before other volunteers arrived.

About 8.o'clock search parties organised in small towns along the harbour began to arrive. By noon 400 people from all, parts of the neighbouring; districts were, scouring the shore, and so the search continued throughout the day, but at midnight no trace was found of the crew.

Having travelled post haste from Auckland to Hokianga, the owners of the ship, Messrs, Frankham and Lowe, arrived shortly after midday.

Until a year ago Captain Kennedy, agent for Frankham and Company, was master of the Isabella de Frame, which was under his command for four years.

"She was the finest little craft any man could wish to put his foot aboard," he said. "She was as seaworthy as the next ship, and fast. It is a mystery to me how the disaster occurred. She would take this bar with ease. She was particularly good in bar work, but this bar is generally known by men of the sea to be the worst in the Dominion. Captain Berridge was a sure and careful master."

- Evening Post 16 July 1928


(By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post") ( AUCKLAND, This Day. The "Herald's" special reporter telegraphed last night from Kohukohu:

There is no sign to-day of the hull of the Isabella de Frame, which was wrecked on the Hokianga Bar late on Saturday afternoon. Parties of searchers patrolled twenty miles of wild, rugged coast to-day from the north head of the harbour to Whangape, vainly looking for the bodies of the eight men who perished.

A little more cargo has been washed , ashore since yesterday, and oil mixed with petrol forms patches on the beach. Iron tanks aboard the schooner held about 6000 gallons of oil. No launches have yet left Hokianga to search off the coast, as conditions are not favourable. Four miles north of the entrance to Whangape Harbour, which is about twenty miles from the scene of the wreck, more wreckage has been found.

In a rowboat, Mr. Carrol, Officer-in-charge of the Customs Department at Whangape, went along the coast this afternoon, and a variety of cargo from the schooner was found. The sea was less than yesterday, but breakers rolled on the bar.

One or two life jackets have been picked up, but no clothing or personal effects have been seen. Proof that the schooner was seaworthy and lent herself to easy management is found in the fact that recently she negotiated the bar at Manukau Heads after her rudder had been lost. Six weeks ago she crossed the bar at Hokianga en route to Manukau. While off Kaipara Heads next morning her rudder was carried away, but later, balanced by her sails, she successfully crossed the Manukau Bar and, sailing down the harbour, anchored in Cornwallis Bay. The following day she proceeded to Onehunga Wharf, where she berthed. All this was accomplished without a rudder.

- Evening Post 17 July 1928



HULL DRIFTING TO THE NORTH (By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post.") AUCKLAND, This Day. ,

The body of Amos Suvanto, an able seaman, who was drowned on Saturday afternoon in the wreck of the Isabella de Fraine, was found yesterday morning near the Golden Stairs, a steep track winding up the side of a precipitous hill on the coast, about fifteen miles from the sceno of the wreck. No sign has been seen of the other victims of the disaster.

Parties patrolling the beach from Hokianga to Whangape saw fresh wreckage washed up by the tide in the vicinity of Mitimiti. The men saw the hull of the Isabella de Fraine drifting off the same spot late on Monday night, when she seemed to be. moving further northwards and out to sea. Pieces of the vessel and scraps of cargo are being seen by the police and volunteers searching the coast from Ahipara to Herekino.

- Evening Post 18 July 1928



A nautical inquiry into the loss of the auxiliary schooner Isabella de Frame with all hands on the Hokianga Bar opened this morning, before Mr. E. C. Cutten, S.M., and Captains W. B. Watt and E. Gibson, assessors. Mr. V. E. Meredith appeared for tho Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine, Mr. Allan Moody was retained by the Merchant Service Guild on behalf of the relatives of Captain A. Berridge, master of the vessel, and Mr. D. Teixiera, mate. The owners A. G. Frankham, Ltd. were represented by Mr. K. M'Veagh.

Mr. Eldon Lansley, surveyor of ships, said he surveyed the Isabella de Fraine on 2nd February and found everything in order. John Mitchell, pilot and signalman, said he sighted the vessel at 10.45 a.m. on 14th July eight or nine miles to the northward. The wind was moderate, south-west, and the sea decreasing on the ebb tide.

The vessel arrived due west of the bar at 1.30 p.m. Witness signalled at 1.40,."Wait for the tide." The vessel kept to the southward. The engine was run for a short time. At 3.40 it was stopped, and was started again, and the vessel came round to the south channel. At 3.55 the signal was given, "Take the bar." The bar was then working; it was half-tide.

Captain Berridge had worked that channel two or three times previously. He did not take the south channel, but passed a bit northwards. When he got close to the main channel he was given a semaphore signal to cross the bar.

He ran on a very short distance, and then turned in as if answering the semaphore. The engines were still going. From the movements of the vessel witness concluded there was something wrong, as his signal was not answered immediately. The vessel was about to veer in to cross the bar when she turned northward again.

A wave slowed the ship to starboard, the boom came right over, and all control appeared to be lost. Another sea struck her broadside on, and she capsized on to her port side. Just prior to this the pilot saw a man in the rigging, though this was not unusual in crossing a bar. On every occasion the Isabella took the north channel en route from Onehunga to Hokianga. The south channel had been unworkable.

In reply to Mr. Meredith the pilot said Captain Berridge had not always displayed good seamanship. On one occasion he had taken the south channel against the signal and worked it. Captain Berridge later informed the witness that there was 17 feet of water in the south channel, but witness contended that the bar was always changing.

Early in the afternoon of the wreck Captain Berridge carried south of the heads, and first made for the south channel, but passed it and was two lengths east of the north channel when he turned to cross inwards.

- Evening Post 8 August 1928


(By Telegraph.—Press Association.) DARGAVILLE, Bth September.

The mainmast of the ill-fated schooner Isabella de Frame, wrecked on the Hokianga Bar in July, came ashore at Chase's Gorge to-day. The sails and ropes were still attached to the mast, which had drifted south nearly 70 miles, and was in a good state of preservation.

- Evening Post 10 September 1928

Friday, August 5, 2011

The true case of a very old oak tree at Waimate North

Trawling through the old newspapers sometimes brings up some fascinating history. This time it was the issue over whether or not the old English Oak tree situated at the old Anglican Mission Station at Waimate North was indeed the oldest Oak in New Zealand as the Evening Post in


AUCKLAND, This Day. The controversy about the oldest oak in New Zealand has brought to light a specimen which, being now over a century old, may with some safety be accorded the title.

The tree is in the grounds of the old Anglican mission station at Waimate North. Recently an oak which formerly stood at Petone, having been planted there by Mr. J. Hewlett Percy in 1842, was claimed by a son of Mr. Percy as the oldest in New Zealand. This assertion is challenged in the "New Zealand Herald" by a correspondent, Mr. W. Johnstone, who stated that at a former Wesleyan mission station at Waima, Hokianga, there was an enormous tree, 80ft high, planted by the Rev. John Warren in 1840. It now appears that the Wesleyan oak when it first sprouted had an Anglican rival sixteen years old, not a great many miles away. This tree was raised from an acorn grown, in Dorset, and planted at Paihia by the Rev. R. Davis, one of the early C.M.B. missionaries, soon after he arrived at the Bay of Islands in the brig Maquarie on 15th August, 1824.

A few years later Mr. Davis's house at Paihia was burned down. The tree, which stood nearby, was saved by being covered with wet blankets. In 1831 Mr. Davis removed to Waimate, taking with him his treasured tree, which he replanted where it now stands.

Its presence there in 1835 was noted by Captain Fitzroy, E.N., afterwards Governor of the colony, who wrote in his journal:

"A thriving young English oak near Mr. Davis's house augured well, for where English oaks succeed very many other useful trees will certainly grow. A living healthy English oak was a sight too rare near the Antipodes to fail in exciting emotion."

When, nearly 20ft high, the tree had much of its lower bark destroyed by sheep which had been penned around it. Mr. Davis, in the hope of saying its life, cut it off about 3ft from the ground. It sprouted again, and is now rather over 50ft high, and the branches have a spread of over 60ft. The trunk, however, is only 7ft high, measuring 10ft 9in in girth.

- Evening Post 8 January 1926

A quick search using google came up with an article from 2008 "Oldest Exotic Trees in the Far North" and sure enough mentioned was the same tree.

"An oak tree planted at Waimate North in 1831 - after being moved from Paihia where it stood for seven years - is New Zealand’s oldest oak at 184-years."

Certainly a fascinating story I checked the Notable Trees of New Zealand website but couldn't find any record. However the Register of the NZ Historic Places Trust for the Mission House notes that the tree is the oldest Oak Tree in the country.