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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




In October 1902 the Chong Shin Tong Society and other Chinese interests chartered the 3,961-ton twin-screw steamer Ventnor to carry 499 coffins, containing the remains of Chinese who had died in New Zealand, for reburial in their homeland. Besides these, she also carried 5,357 tons of Westport coal. On 26 October 1902, after completing her loading, the Ventnor sailed from Wellington bound for Hong Kong. Weather conditions were fine and the sea smooth at the time of her departure. Shortly after noon on the following day she struck a submerged rock off Cape Egmont and was holed forward. The engines were reversed and the ship managed to get free. As there were no suitable dock facilities at Wellington, the master decided to proceed to Auckland via North Cape for repairs. In the meantime the pumps were brought into use, but these could not cope with the water. By 9 p.m. on 28 October, when Ventnor was about 10 miles off Omapere, Hokianga Harbour, the ship became unmanageable and it was apparent that she would soon founder. Although all boats were launched, 13 lives were lost when the captain's boat was sucked under with the ship. The Ventnor's unusual cargo was not recovered. This was not the first occasion that Chinese corpses had been sent from New Zealand. In the 1880s a similar shipment had been made, though on a much smaller scale than that of 1902.

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