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THE "Wellington Independent." Saturday, July 26, 1851.

It is with feelings of the deepest regret that we announce tho total wreck of tl 10 barquo Maria, 480 tons, Capt. Plauk and the loss of 29 lives out of 31 p er ' sons who were on board tho vessel at tho time the melancholy catastrophe took place.

Tho Maria arrived here in March last from California, where sho had taken a cargo of coals, but being unable to sell them at that place, sho brought them on to this port for disposal.

Sinco that period, she has made two trips from Wellington to Port Lytte'lton having been chartered by Mr. Clillbrd to' convey stock to the Canterbury settlement. On Sunday last, the Maria : left Port Victoria for Wellington, with a favourable wind, and struck on the rocks off the Karori stream at 6 o'clock on Wednesday morning.

' Tho' only two that are saved to relate the melancholy tale are a young man who was at tho wheel at the time tho vessel struck, and a Malay, From the former we learn that four bells had just gone on Wednesday morning/"and the vessel was going free, when she suddenly struck. Tho second mate instantly ran to the wheel, but the vessel sinking again, threw him over it, and before she could be brought to again, sho was broadside on the rocks, and went to pieces almost instantly. A boat was lowered down into which many jumped, but it was swamped at once, and all perished, The Malay and the young man cluug to pieces of the wreck, and after being dashed backwards and forwards amongst the rocksfor. a considerable time, ultimately succeeded in gaining the shore. The Natives we believe found them in the course of the day, and treated them most kindly. On Thursday morning Mr. Ashdown's sou brought the intelligence that a two masted vessel had been wrecked that three or four bodies had been washed up, and that two only were saved. Most parties were induced to believe that this vessel would turn out to bo tho brig Raven of Sydney, which was known to have left Port Cooper at tho same time as the Maria. All seemed to entertain such a high opinion of, and to have such unlimited confidence in Captain Plank's skill as a seaman, that they scarcely would harbour the suspicions which the fact of one of the bodies found being that of a Lascar, of whom it was known there were two or three on board'- tho Maria, was calculated to excite. Immediately on the receipt of the distressing intelligence Mr. Inspector M'Donogh proceeded to the.spot, and in the evening brought the details which we have just given.. Mr. M'Donogh further learnt from tho seaman, that there were two cabin passengers, aud some stockmen in the steerage, but he was unable to give their names. Up to the last accounts nine bodies had been washed up, and yesterday several parties proceeded to the scene of the wreck, so that we hope we shall, before going to press, be ablo to relieve the agonizing state of suspeuso and anxiety in which many parties are at present plunged, from their ignorance of the names of the victims of the fearful catastrophe.

Mr. St. Hill, (the Sheriff,) Mr. G. Thomas, Mr. Wm. Fitzherbert ; (Lloyd's Agent), Mr. Levin, (Agent for the vessel), Mr. Lyon, and other gentlemen, returned last evening from the wreck. From them we learn that—

The nine bodies found on the beach have been identified as those of Cuptain Plank, tho 3rd mate, six seamen, and a stockman named i' enry Saul, formerly in the employ of C. Clifford, Esq. Tho bodies have all been laid together, and Mr. St. Hill, the Sheriff, has given orders for their removal to Town, for the purpose of holding an inquest, and; to give them Christian burial.

We have since the foundation of this settlement had many disasters to encounter, but scarcely one ever cast such a gloom over the settlement as the present shipwreck. Other vessels have been wrecked, and a largo amount of property has been lost, but in no case has there ever beeu such a frightful sacrifice of life. The Commander, Captain Plank, was one of the most able seamen that ever had charge of a vessel, he was in other respects a man of great intelligence and information, suid of most kind and gentlemanly manners, so that, during the time he has been iv this colony, ho had gained the esteem of all who knew him He has we understand left behind him in England a wifo and three children to deplore his untimely fate. But in relating this fearful misfortune, we cannot avoid expressing our full concurrence in the opinion of Captain Rhodes, that the sacrifice of these mens' lives is fairly attributable to the culpable neglect equally of the Home as of the Local Government in not having long since erected a lighthouse at the heads. As far back as, we think, 1841, the New Zealand Company made an offer to the Government to erect a lighthouse at an expense Of some £1500, but both the Home and Local Governments threw so many stacles in the way, as to prevent the Com«

ipany carrying Out, what at that time they ,'were most anxious to effect. Again, after the shipwrecks in 1841, ulluiied to by 'Captain Rhodes, tho necessity of a lighthouse was urged upon the Local Government by tho whole community. The subject was also pressed .by deputations both upon Captain Fitzroy's and Sir GGrey's attention, on their very first arrival in this settlement, but the petitions : and remonstrance of the settlors, in this as in every other case, have beeii disregarded and treated with contempt. The sacrifice of tho lives and property of those engaged in Commerce, have been considered of no importance. The Revenue has gone on increasing, but not a single farthing could ever be devoted to any public objectof utility, Shipwreck after shipwreck has taken place, but tho Government have taken not the slightest notice of tho causes to which they alone could be attributed. It is truo, our merchants has brought these causes before it time after time—they have begged and entreated to have a Light-house , erected—have offered to subscribe liberally towards it— they have pleaded against such a wilful sacrifice of life and property being allowed to continue, when ample means were at the .disposal of the.Local Government to provide the requisite remedy, but they have been ever met with the answer "the Government, have no funds." Office after office has been created to provide for hungry and needy dependents ; thousands every year have -been distributed to men, as rewards for their having forsaken their principles, and betrayed their fellow settlers; but no money could be found for such an all important object as that wo aro now referring to. We have within the last few days seen the present Council-dividing amongst themselves and their brother Officials nearly the whole of the £20,000 raised by taxes in this Settlement alone, without making a single grant worth mentioning to any useful purpose. A sum of £2,000 would probably be a sufficient sum to erect a Lighthouse on Pencarrow Head, but the Government prefer spending this £2,000 in Comniissionerships and Secretaryships. But surely the cup is now more than full to the brim—surely the last drop has been added to it—aud a fearful drop it -has been—one that has thrown upon the ■ Government a degree and kind of responsibility which we cannot believe they will again wish to incur.

But let not the merchants be satisfied with any evasive answers, let them not be deceived by any flattering promises, but let them insist at once upon the amount required to build a good substantial Lighthouse being at onco voted out of our own Local Revenue.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

THE "Wellington Independent." Saturday, July 26, 1851., Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 604, 26 July 1851

Word Count
1,318

THE "Wellington Independent." Saturday, July 26, 1851. Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 604, 26 July 1851

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