Thursday, 28 May 2009

Pilots in Wellington

Left: Pilot Holmes and crew at Worser Bay, Wellington, ca 1883. Source: Timeframes

The men who met their end as described in the article below were probably using this boat pictured, taken five years previously. Most of them are likely pictured also.

The Pleione was the source of a bad run of luck. In March 1888, she ran aground on Waikanae on a trip out from England. She ended up floating again, but she wasn't insured and lots of money lost in fixing her up on the slip at Evans Bay (Pictured here with a beautiful gig in the foreground). The episode described in the article below must have been her first round-trip since the relaunching, which took place in November 1888.

Wellington waters can get very rough at times (recently we had 12 - 14 metre swells in the Cook Strait, and 60 Knots of wind recorded at the heads where this takes place). The Wahine, a not insignificant vessel, sank in 1968 when she was pushed by a wave on to Barretts Reef, the scene of the tragedy here recorded.

Source: Evening Post. 18 August 1889.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


This photo is copyright to Tanya Katterns/Dominion Post. Sourced from Stuff on 22 May 2009. I didn't ask permission to use it, so sorry about that.

There are all sorts of funny little anomalies around and about, eg the Tamil Bell, Spanish helmet and Korotangi. This skull is the latest.

Of course, where this skull could be interesting is that each of the above items may very easily be recent (although in flights of fancy I like to think that the idea of the Roc comes from the Haast Eagle. But that's a bit silly really, Asian Eagles are big enough to spawn that idea).

The big show-stopper for me about this skull, is that radio carbon dating is not very reliable (here and here).

Considering the mulch that abounds on the East Coast, this woman could have died only a few years ago. Still, if she was alive in the 17th Century, it is unusual that it is the skull that survivies. Perhaps she was a survivor of a wreck and she was kept as a prize, her head preserved? Anyway, all a bit funny.

I'll wait till the genetic testing comes about.

Below can be viewed at:

Skull riddle may be solved

An ancient European skull found in a Wairarapa riverbed could belong to a victim of an early Dutch shipwreck, a scientist says.
The 2004 discovery of the skull sparked a coroner's inquest, and the involvement of forensic anthropologist Robin Watt. His findings could overturn what is known about New Zealand's prehistory.
Carbon-dating put the skull's origin at between 1619 and 1689 overlapping with and pre-dating visits to New Zealand by Abel Tasman in 1642 and Captain James Cook in 1769.
The skull, found in the Ruamahunga River by Sam Tobin, was of a woman aged between 40 and 45.
How she died was a mystery, Dr Watt said. The shape of the skull showed it was of European rather than Maori origin.
"When I saw it, I thought what on earth have we got here?"
Permanent occupation by Europeans did not occur until New Zealand Company settlers arrived in 1840. Earlier, whalers came ashore in the late 1700s. So what was Dr Watt's explanation for a woman in her 40s wandering in Wairarapa during the 1600s?
"At this time there was a tremendous amount of movement by the Dutch. We know they were exploring the southern coast of Australia. Anything sailing this way has a chance of being stopped by New Zealand, so for my money there was either a visit here or a wreck. I'd say it was probably a wreck."
The key was that the Dutch ship was on a voyage of settlement, not discovery, and probably heading for what is now Indonesia.
"When they came out, the local governors, dignitaries and the people brought their families, and who was with them? Their wives."