Remembering the Wahine Disaster – 10 April 1968

The Wahine Disaster took place fifty years ago. Today we reflect on the loss of fifty one people on the 10th of April 1968. This tragedy resonates strongly down the decades.

Policeman Ray Ruane holding a young survivor of the Wahine shipwreck. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1968/1574/26a-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22508739

The Wahine Disaster played out across the nation’s television in grainy black and white, and the newsroom brought the story to our living rooms.  The ferry’s proximity to shore where people watched helplessly certainly added to our sense of powerlessness in the face of tragedy.

You can watch some of the original footage on NZ On Screen.

NZBC Classics - Wahine Disaster

Wahine at Lyttelton, 1965
The Wahine used as a backdrop for a shot on the Port at Lyttelton, circa 1965. Kete Christchurch 1965_g_-_Wahine.jpg

The storm affected many parts of the country including Canterbury. It tore of the roofs of houses on Canon Hill and forced many homes in Sumner to be evacuated.

I recall my parents pointing to the wreckage, which was still visible for many years, as we neared Wellington on our ferry voyage. Each time there is a rough ferry crossing, the fate of the Wahine ferry is remembered and our thoughts are once again with those who died and with the survivors of that ill-fated voyage.

Find out more:

Articles on the 50th anniversary of the Wahine disaster

Photo Hunt October: Open Day, 1955

Open day, 1955.
Highly commended entry in the 2012 Photo Hunt. File ref: RM-2012-PH-101; CC-BY-NC-ND-3.0 NZ

United States Navy Icebreaker Open Day at Lyttelton in 1955.  As the 2016 Antarctic season opens, this is a reminder of the length of the association between Christchurch and the U.S. Antarctic progamme.

Highly commended entry in the 2012 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt.  The judges commented that This colourful and action-packed shot shows the strong and enduring connection between Christchurch people and those heading down to the Antarctic.”

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008. The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Image of the week

New tonnage record for Lyttelton of 89,670 tons when 20 ships were berthed in the inner harbour and one in the stream awaiting a berth. 14 Nov. 1949.

New tonnage record for Lyttelton of 89,670 tons when 20 ships were berthed in the inner harbour and one in the stream awaiting a berth

Like what you see? Contact us.

If you have any further information on any of the images, or if you would like to donate images to our collection please contact us. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.