Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19070131-10-1
The Elingamite sank on Sunday November 9 1902, taking with her a substantial amount of gold down into the depths. The London Salvage Company in 1903 engaged a New Zealand firm to start recovering the gold from the wreck. Edward Harper was employed as a diver to go down into the depths and recover the sunken treasure. The expedition after nineteen days of recovery attempts was a complete failure. In December 1906 Harper was employed again to go and dive on the Elingamite wreck. During early January, his dives yielded a great deal of success for the salvage company with the recovery of a large amount of gold from the wreck. On the 22nd of January 1907 however, things went terribly wrong for James Harper. Earlier he had been complaining of 'pains' from the numerous dives he had been undertaking over the course of the month to retrieve the gold from the wreck. On this particular day, he had already gone down twice with a dive duration of 15 minutes, however on the third and final dive the time went on to 23 minutes. When he resurfaced Harper complained of feeling unwell. He died of heart failure on board the Huia a short time later. Over the decades there have been many attempts to salvage the last of the gold from the Elingamite wreck. Auckland Museum have a blog post on their website about the latest diving activities. Check it out here.