Story: Shipwrecks

The wreck of HMS Orpheus

The wreck of HMS Orpheus

This painting by Richard Brydges Beechey depicting the wreck of HMS Orpheus on 7 February 1863 is dated September 1863. The steam corvette was carrying stores from Sydney for naval ships based in New Zealand during the New Zealand wars. It was wrecked crossing the bar of Manukau Harbour. Of the 259 officers and men on board, 189 died – the greatest ever loss of life from a shipwreck in New Zealand waters. Those who were saved had climbed into the rigging and then jumped into the water. They were picked up by boats towed out by the small steamer Wonga Wonga (right).

Using this item

New Zealand National Maritime Museum, P. A. Edmiston Trust Collection
Oil painting by R. B. Beechey

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How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Shipwrecks - Māori shipwreck stories', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 10 December 2023)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 12 Jun 2006