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.
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.
- There is also a collection on NZ On Screen of documentaries about the Wahine Disaster.
- Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has audio reports of the Wahine Disaster. This recording contains radio news coverage of the sinking of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry ‘Wahine’ on 10 April 1968. It was filed on the evening of the disaster and contains a detailed description of the cause of the disaster, the death toll and the search and rescue scene.
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:
- Our page on the sinking of the Wahine.
- The sinking of the Wahine, 10 April 1968, Wellington City Libraries
- The sinking of the Wahine a DigitalNZ set of images
- Wahine Disaster from NZ History.net.
- Audio recordings from Nga Taonga Sound & Vision