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Shipwrecks off Oeo

In just eight years four ships were wrecked on the Oeo Coast.  The first to be wrecked was the “Anne Wilson”   When on a voyage from Lyttelton to Kaipara with a cargo of flour and potatoes, the schooner stranded 100 yards south of the Oeo River, near the boatshed, early on the morning of the 22nd April, 1893.  The schooner was firmly embedded in a cluster of rocks, her bottom seriously damaged
Cliff Holmes remembers his father-in-law, Mr. Lambie, telling then about the rocks leading out to the “Ann Wilson” were blasted away and bullocks and carts were used to salvage a lot of the flour and potatoes which were in fairly good order.
The second ship to be wrecked was the “Marramarra” which went ashore further south than the “Ann Wilson”  somewhere behind Edwards place on 29th May 1896.  It became a total wreck.  Mr. Holmes recalls that Mr. Lambie told that the boiler off the “Marramarra” was taken up in what was called Hikaka’s Bay and it ended up at a mill near Te Kiri somewhere, 
belonging to a Mr. Parks.
The third ship the sea claims was the “Manaia” 
The atmosphere heavy from smoke from bush fires   when at 2am on the 15th January 1897, the Manaia stranded on a reef off the mouth of the Oeo River.  The Manaia was a screw steamer of 81 tons gross, under the command of Captain George Archibald Simpson.  The Court of Inquiry held the master responsible for going to sea with his vessel improperly equipped, and for negligent navigation.  It is probably the boiler of the “Manaia” that can be seen wedged in rocks off the mouth of the Oeo River at very low tides.  Probably the anchor found in the 1960’s in the same vicinity and now on the memorial to the crew or ‘Lizzie Bell’ at the Pihama Cemetery, belongs to this ship and not the ‘Lizzie Bell’
The last and most famous shipwreck is the ‘Lizzie Bell’  took place on the night of the 24th July, 1901, south of the wreck of the ‘Marramarra’ probably behind the Simpson’s farm. As this was the only wreck which sustained loss of life it has become the most notable.

I have had the honour of wandering around the Lizzie Bell Cemetery, and found it like all cemeteries really fascinating,  a very pretty and peaceful place.  

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Send mail to Patsy with questions or comments about this web site.
May 27, 2004