10 Apr 2014

Survivors remember ferry disaster

2:48 pm on 10 April 2014

Survivors of the Wahine disaster have met to commemorate 46 years since the tragedy. Fifty-one people died when the Wahine capsized in Wellington Harbour during a violent storm in 1968.

WaThe bell from the Wahine was rung twice.

The bell from the Wahine was rung twice. Photo: PHOTO NZ

At the Wellington Museum of City and Sea on Thursday, the ship's bell was rung twice and a wreath was placed in honour of those who died.

Frank Hitchens was a steward on the Wahine and says almost 50 years later he still remembers what happened vividly.

Mr Hitchens said he was knocked unconscious when waves threw him against a rock and woke up in hospital that evening.

David Milson was on the shore that day and recalled the difficult rescue.

"In the distance there were rafts coming across the harbour and we waited and pulled six or seven of them out. They were hard to hold because the big undertow took them out again - they were over empty or upside down."

Mr Milson said he met one of the men he rescued for the first time on Thursday.