9 Apr 2013

The steamship Ventnor

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 2:10 pm on 9 April 2013

One of the most unusual maritime tragedies in New Zealand is being remembered, thanks to a new art exhibition in the Far North. The steamship Ventnor was on its way from Wellington to Hong Kong when it sank off the west coat of Northland in 1902. The loss of the Ventnor claimed the lives of most of her crew, and consigned to the ocean, not only 5000 tonnes of coal, but also 499 coffins carrying the remains of Chinese goldminers who were being taken home for burial. Many of the coffins were washed up along the west coast, where they were found and buried by local iwi. But their loss remained a tragedy for their families in China, owing to the belief that a soul cannot rest unless the grave of a loved one is tended by family members.