A fascinating and untold piece of Kiwi history airs on Campbell Live this Tuesday 7 July, 7pm, TV3. In 1902, on the way to China , the ship SS Ventnor sank off the Hokianga Heads. Around 499 coffins were on board when it sank. SS Ventnor was hired by the charitable association, Cheong Sing Tong, to take the remains of Chinese goldminers who had died in New Zealand back home to China . It was important for the mens spirits that they be returned home so their graves could be tended by family. It was rumoured among Chinese that local Maori iwi had recovered some of the bones and buried them. Tune into Campbell Live to hear this special story and discover what has unfolded. Please share this upcoming episode with others in your networks. The Ventnor Project team will present an update on Maori and Chinese relations around this discovery at the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas conference on Sunday 19 July, 4.30pm.
Two or three theories are current among the Chinese of the colony as to the cause of the loss of the hearse steamer Ventnor, which went down oft Hokianga three or four months ago, when laden with Celestial corpses hound for the far East. The most fantastic js that it arose from a personal feud , which the late Sew Hoy the wealthy Dunedinite, was concerned. Sew, it seems, had quarrelled with another Chinaman, and had threatened to fight him till the bodies were at the bottom of the sea. Well, the remains of both men were on the Ventnor, and their spirits the vendetta till Sew's shade fulfilled his vow, and sank the ship for the purpose. From the Chinese point of view this theory good enough as likely as that of the Christian missionary to the southern Chows, who sees in the occurrence an interposition of providence to prevent the bones from reaching Chrna, because there they would be the subject of idolatrous worship.
Observer, Volume XXIII, Issue 24, 28 February 1903, Page 16
The s.s. Ventnor cleared this port on Sunday morning in fine weather with 2154* tons of coal shipped at Westport and 2843 tons shipped at Wellington valued at Â£4500, consigned to the Admiralty at Hong Kong; 499 Chinese coffins, 144 sacks and 22 bales of fungus, one bale tow, aud one bale flax.
Of the coffins 489 were insured in the Alliance Company for Â£5490. The fungus was insured for about Â£320 in various offices. She was under the charge of Captain H. Ferry, who has been seventeen years in the employment of the same company. The steamer was under charter to W. Scott Pell and Co., of Sydney, contractors. Messrs John Mill and Co., of Dunedin a-id Wellington, were the colonial agents. Of the coffins 459 were shipped by the Chong Shin Tong Society, which is a branch of the big society in China called the Tai Chuen. The other ten coffins were shipped by Yee Chong, of Manners-street, and did not belong to any society. The Ventnor's crew numbered thirty-one, and those on board included nine Chinese body attendants. These attendants of the dead are old and decrepit Chinamen, who are being sent home to China by the Chong Shin Tong, and given sufficient money to keep them from work for the remainder of their lives.
The local agents state that everything was right with the vessel when she left Wellington. Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 257, 29 October 1902, Page 2
About The Bone Feeder The Bone Feeder is a 75 minute play, a contemporary reworking of the historical sinking of the SS Ventnor. In 1902 the coffins of 499 Chinese sojourners from Otago and Wellington, being repatriated to their home towns in China, were lost near the Hokianga Harbour. The play follows the trials of a young man called Ben who seeks to find the lost bones of his great great grandfather and to bring them home, and of Kwan, a man who emigrates to NZ in the 1800s and has to decide where he belongs.
Combining theatre with aerial stunts and martial arts, live music, shadow play and dance, the play is a fictional exploration of what is for many Chinese New Zealanders a very real and significant piece of their history. The play also explores one of the first times of contact between Maori and Chinese.
The Bone Feeder is a New Zealand play with a difference. It's a contemporary Western theatre piece which draws on the traditions of Asian storytelling.
VENUE: TAPAC, 100 Motions Rd, Western Springs, Auckland DATES: Thursday 10 November – Sunday 20 November (Preview 9 November)
TIMES: Tuesday – Saturday @ 7.30pm (Sunday at 4pm) No performance Monday 14 November Tuesday 15 November matinee @ 12pm
Tickets here or by calling (09) 8450295 from 10am – 5pm weekdays.
In a hauntingly beautiful area in Northland comes a story of two cultures and a discovery that will close a chapter in history.
Their story began in 1902 when a ship left Otago carrying the bones of around 500 Chinese gold miners.
They were returning to their homeland, but tragically the ship sank just a day after leaving New Zealand.
Woven through the sands of the remote Hokianga Coast, the secret was kept for more than a hundred years before it was finally uncovered.
"It was like finding gold," says Ventnor Project founder Liu Shueng Wong. "You know you dig around and you dig around and then, wow, I've got some gold. And this is so precious because it is a precious story for the Chinese community."
For Dunedin's Duncan Sew Hoy, that precious find was the totally unexpected discovery of the bones of his great-grandfather at the opposite end of the country
Like so many other Chinese men, the gold rush brought Choie Sew Hoy to New Zealand, although he never intended to stay here in death.
In Chinese custom its crucial a body is buried near family for a peaceful afterlife.
So in 1902 he organised for a ship, the Ventnor, to return the bodies of the Chinese gold miners back to their homeland.
Choie Sew Hoy himself died before the ship could depart, so his body was added to the unusual onboard cargo.
But the Ventnor struck a reef and sank 10km off the Hokianga Heads.
For Maori living along the remote Hokianga coastline it must have been an eerie sight to see coffins floating into shore. They didn't know who the people were, where they had come from or where they were meant to be going.
But they pulled them ashore and in some cases buried them with their own ancestors. So tangata whenua and early Chinese settlers rest side-by-side.
Historians believe the Chinese community was too distressed to discuss the tragedy and suffered in silence, assuming the lonely spirits were lost at sea.
Now, because Liu Sheung Wong recently decided to embark on a documentary about the shipwreck, the local te rarawa, nga puhi and te roroa tribes began talking about it and revealed the stories they had grown up with.
"I always heard that there were Chinese people buried in different urupa and in the sand dunes and places like that," says Te Rarawa Paul White. "People got told by the old ones don't forget to look after the Chinese people that are buried over there."
The unexpected news sent shivers through both communities and emotions were reignited through a series of hui.
"The sad thing to me was that there had been no closure particularly for the Chinese community, but also for the
various hapu communities around the place," Mr White says. "They didn't know what they had, what the kaupapa was, why bones were being transported in a ship."
An emotional experience will soon be shared with the wider Chinese community as memorial options are unveiled.
Possibilities include an official Chinese bai sang ceremony in Hokianga, a permanent memorial, or the bones would continue their journey to China.
And there is some comfort for the Chinese community already. While their ancestors endured hardship in life, they now know they also experienced an incredible act of respect in death - a respect that's intertwined two family trees, two cultures and an ongoing relationship founded on a tragic accident.
The Ventnor Project team will present an update on Maori and Chinese relations around this discovery at the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas conference - www.goingbananas.org.nz - on Sunday July 19 in Auckland.
SS Ventnor shipwreck Posted on 5 August 2010 by Kaiwhakahaere | Administrator Ventnor's lifeboats. The beach at Omapere where the Copthorne Hotel sits today. Photo taken by Mary Bryers.
Ventnor's lifeboats. The beach at Omapere where the Copthorne Hotel sits today. Photo taken by Mary Bryers.
22 June 2009 Written by Robyn Kamira
Early in 2009, a group of Chinese visited Mitimiti to acknowledge their tupuna who had been shipwrecked as tupapaku on Mitimiti beach, and to open relations with the iwi who have cared for the remains of their ancestors since 1902.
Choie Sew Hoy
Born in 1838, the son of a farmer, Choie Sew Hoy was raised in his ancestral village of Sha Kong in the Upper Panyu (thingy Yue) district of Kwangtung (Guangdong) Province in China.
When gold was found in New Zealand, many families sent young men to earn money for the family. There was a constant stream of young Chinese men setting out and returning across the Pacific. Choie Sew Hoy arrived in Dunedin in 1868 and set up business as a merchant, supplying miners and goldfield traders.
He was always concerned for the welfare of people from the thingy Yue area and was one of the leaders of the NZ Branch of the Cheong Shing Tong, the welfare group which cared for the poor and elderly.
Shipment of bodies
In 1883, Choie Sew Hoy and others successfully helped organise the shipment of the bodies of 230 miners back to China for burial at ancestral sites.
When Choie Sew Hoy died in 1901, his obituary in the Otago Daily Times referred to “his reputation for upright and honourable dealing”.
His son Kum Poy Sew Hoy became one of the leaders of the Cheong Shing Tong Society, and in 1902, it chartered the steamer Ventnor to carry 499 coffins back to China for reburial. The majority were the remains of Chinese gold miners from Otago, Southland and West Coast. These were placed in varnished kauri coffins which were lead or zinc lined. They also included the remains of Choie Sew Hoy which was in one of two larger fine rimu coffins.
* 10 more coffins were also picked up from Wellington * Nine elderly Chinese were given free passage and acted as coffin attendants * The Ventnor also carried Westport coal destined for Hong Kong
On Sunday 26 October 1902, the Ventnor sailed from Wellington bound for Hong Kong. Weather conditions were fine and the sea smooth at the time of her departure. Shortly after noon on Monday, she struck a submerged rock off Cape Egmont and was holed forward. The engines were reversed and the ship managed to get free.
As there were no suitable dock facilities at Wellington, the master decided to proceed to Auckland via North Cape for repairs. In the meantime the pumps were brought into use, but these could not cope with the water. By 9 o’clock on the Tuesday night, when the ship was about 10 miles off Omapere, Hokianga Harbour, she became unmanageable and it was apparent that she would soon founder. Although all life boats were launched, at least 13 lives were lost when the captain’s boat was sucked under the ship.
When Kum Poy Sew Hoy received the sad news he immediately engaged people to search the area. A canvas bag of bones was found washed up on Ninety Mile Beach in the Far North. This was sent to China as the only remains. The rest of Ventnor’s unusual cargo was not recovered.
A court of inquiry ruled that the Captain had been negligent and incompetent and responsible for the wreck because of his poor navigation around Cape Egmont.
Some time later some coffins were rumored to have floated ashore and to have been buried by the local Maori.
And now in 2009, there have been new developments!
Early in February 2009, Wong Liu Shueng, Kirsten Wong and Nigel Murphy sent out a report of interest to many New Zealand Chinese. While making a short film on the Ventnor sinking, Liu Shueng met a person who told her that they knew where some Chinese remains had been buried by local Maori. The site was a Maori burial ground and now on land cared for by the Department of Conservation.
It was confirmed that Chinese remains are buried there and that members of the tribe know their location. A Maori elder told how a respected older woman had asked him, before she died, to look after the Chinese that are buried there.
Kirsten Wong made contact with Te Rarawa and explained the Ventnor project and her role, accepting an invitation on behalf of their representatives to come to Mitimiti on Sunday 1 March 2009.
Representative from the Sew Hoy family Duncan Sew Hoy, thingy Fah Association representatives (almost all the remains on the SS Ventnor were thingy Yu people), representatives from the Otago-Southland branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association, and the project team, were to meet with the locals, Te Rarawa Runanga and Te Roroa representatives.
“Honouring the spirits of our ancestors and fellow county folk is very important for us, so we greatly appreciate your willingness to meet with us face to face. We especially wanted to acknowledge the many years you have guarded and respected the remains of our people. Our hope is that together, we can bring some closure to this part of our shared past.” — Kirsten Wong
The desire from the perspective of the Chinese families was to do the traditional rite of bai jai – paying respect to the ancestors. This is done to ensure the spirits are happy in the spirit world and that they will continue to look after their descendants in the world of the living.
The tradition would normally involve offering incense and food either at the burial site or at a designated memorial spot. It would include burning incense and spirit money, having fireworks and using gongs. We would like to hear from anyone who can tell us what actually happened that day as obviously bringing food, for example, to a burial site would conflict with normal tikanga.
They were also keen on having a memorial that is publicly accessible so that people could go and pay their respects whenever they wanted to.
Finally, there was some interest from the Sew Hoy family in taking a boat trip to the Ventnor wreck.
Windows on a Chinese Past, vols 1-4, by Dr James Ng, Otago Heritage Press, Dunedin, 1993-1999.
Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography, ed by Jane Thomson, Longacre Press, Dunedin, 1998.
Letter from Kirsten Wong to Te Runanga O Te Rarawa, January 2009.
COMMENT: [Robyn Kamira, 22 June 2009] A presentation on this project will be taking place at the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas conference in Auckland Saturday 18 July to Sunday 19 July 2009. The actual presentation on this project is on Sunday at 4.30pm.
COMMENT: [Robyn Kamira, 4 July 2009] The story about the bodies of Chinese gold miners that floated in on the Mitimiti tide in 1902 following the sinking of the SS Ventnor, will be aired on Campbell Live TV3 at 7pm on Tuesday 7 July 2009. This entry was posted in Everything, Last century and beyond. Bookmark the permalink. ← SS Ventnor shipwreck revisited
SS Ventnor shipwreck revisited Posted on 5 August 2010 by Kaiwhakahaere | Administrator Ventnor Shipwreck descendants and locals from Mitimiti commemorate the first visit of the Chinese to their tupuna. Photos provided by White whanau collection.
Ventnor Shipwreck descendants and locals from Mitimiti commemorate the first visit of the Chinese to their tupuna. Photos provided by White whanau collection.
8 November 2009 Source: Te Kukupa, Spring 2009 edition, Te Runanga O Te Rarawa.
The sinking of the SS Ventnor
On Sunday 1 March 2009, more than 150 Maori and Chinese people gathered at Matihetihe Marae in Mitimiti to honour the deeds of their tupuna.
In 1902, the SS Ventnor, which had been chartered to return the remains of 499 Chinese men to their homeland, sank ten miles off the Hokianga Heads.
Chinese gold miners
Hundreds of Chinese men came to New Zealand to seek their fortunes as part of the gold rush in the late nineteenth century. While it was their intention to return to their homeland, sadly many of them never made it and died before they could return. The Chong Shing Tong Society over a period of years, set about gathering the remains of their dead and raising the money required to charter a ship so that the koiwi could be returned to China for burial.
In 1902 the Chong Shin Tong Society and other Chinese interests chartered the SS Ventnor to convey the remains of their dead back to China. 265 came from Dunedin, 177 from Greymouth and a small number from Wellington. Nine elderly Chinese men also went on board to escort their kinsfolk.
This was not the first occasion that Chinese remains had been sent from New Zealand. In the 1880s, a similar shipment had been made, though on a much smaller scale than that of 1902.
On 26 October 1902, the SS Ventnor sailed from Wellington bound for Hong Kong, stopping at New Plymouth for some cargo of dried fungus. Weather conditions were fine and the sea smooth at the time of her departure. Shortly after noon on the following day she struck a submerged rock off Taranaki and was holed forward. The engines were reversed and the ship managed to get free.
As there were no suitable dock facilities at Wellington, the master decided to proceed to Auckland via North Cape for repairs. In the meantime, the pumps were brought into use, but these could not cope with the water. By 9 pm on 28 October, when the SS Ventnor was about 10 miles off the Hokianga Harbour, the ship became unmanageable and it was apparent that she would soon founder.
Although all boats were launched, 13 lives were lost when the captain’s boat was sucked under with the ship. The SS Ventnor’s unusual cargo was not recovered. Two boats reached Omapere beach by the next morning and one was picked up by a small steamer north of Whangape. The wreck of the captain’s boat was found washed up on the beach north of Hukatere on Te Oneroa a Tohe. While many of the koiwi would have gone down with the ship, lead-lined coffins and bones in calico bags washed up on the beaches right up and down the West Coast.
Stories abound among the various coastal hapu of Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi and Te Roroa of the shocking and unexplained finds that our tupuna made. Many of these were buried on or near the beach where they were found and others were taken to urupa and other places of burial.
Without the communications of today it would have been impossible to understand and explain what had happened at the time.
Hokianga Film Festival 2007
In a twist of fate, Chinese woman Wong Liu Shueng, undertook a film making course run at the Rawene campus of Northtec a couple of years ago. The focus of her short film was the sinking of the SS Ventnor which was a great interest to her. The film screened later that year at the Hokianga Film Festival and it created a lot of interest.
What Liu Shueng hadn’t realised was that many local people knew of this event and a number of the people attending the festival had stories handed down from their old people about the coffins washing up and the places that they were buried. This set in motion a chain of events to bring closure for the Chinese community.
Honouring the dead
Alex Nathan of Te Roroa and Paul White from Te Rarawa set about organising for the iwi of the area to receive a delegation of Chinese people to come and pay their respects to their dead for the first time. Like Maori, the Chinese have a special regard for the dead.
Each year at Ching Ming (usually around Easter) a ceremony called Bi San or Bi Jei – depending on the location of the remains – is performed by many Chinese families. Chinese believe that if your ancestors are acknowledged, happy and well ‘fed’ then they in turn offer to their descendents, a year of happiness. The descendents of those lost on the SS Ventnor have been unable to properly pay their respects, not knowing where their dead are.
This delegation gathered together three different Chinese groups. The Pooh Fah Association which is the current association representing the benevolent society that was set up for the miners with the express purpose of commissioning the SS Ventnor, members of the Sew Hoy family, whose tupuna was one of the key organisers of the venture, and two representatives of another tribe who also had a few bodies on board. Chinese have a similar clan system hapu and iwi.
Te Roroa supported by Te Rarawa, welcomed the Chinese delegation on to Matatina Marae, in Waipoua on the 28th February. It was the first time most of the group had been on to a marae but the emotions and warmth of both parties ensured it was a memorable time.
They were later taken out to the coast near Kawerua to a place where more than 30 bodies had been interred. The next day the ope was taken to Matihetihe Marae in Mitimiti, by Te Roroa. Members of all the Te Rarawa hapu around Mitimiti supported by Ngapuhi and Te Roroa received the delegation which had swollen to about 50.
The tamariki from Matihetihe School supported the powhiri. Stories were exchanged by both parties and a request to undertake a ceremony on the beach to pay respect to the dead was agreed to.
This visit was the first time the Chinese were able to acknowledge their ancestors who have waited more than a century. Locals joined with the Chinese to perform the ceremony which was a very emotional time. The Chinese expressed their appreciation to the hapu that have cared for their relatives who did the right thing for their descendants.
Wong Liu Shueng expressed it this way; “There are some wonderful aspects of this project. The first is the meeting of so many open hearted people, who welcomed us like long lost family and who want to make the path for us to do our ancestral tasks possible. It is through their willingness that this project is possible. The second is the appreciation of the West Coast of this area. It is as beautiful as beauty can offer in it wildness and in it calmness. That in some instances the bones are buried up on the hill looking out to sea which is such good Feng Shui. We are sure the men like the places you picked.”
It has been agreed that a memorial should be erected to mark the sinking of the SS Ventnor, and to provide a place or places where the descendants can come to pay their respects.
Offers have been made of places for this memorial to be erected but more discussion is required before this can be finalised.
A hui is to be called of Te Rarawa, Te Roroa and Ngapuhi hapu at a marae near Omapere to agree on a kaupapa before getting back to the Chinese community. One suggestion was a trail of different markers and memorials to tell the SS Ventnor story.
Bringing history to a conclusion
The next phase of the SS Ventnor Project is exciting, creating a connection between the Chinese and Maori, the sharing of common values, and the hearing of stories. Wong Liu Shueng says; “It’s taken a while for us to turn up, I know, but here we are at last.”
Read the full historical story here This entry was posted in Everything, Last century and beyond. Bookmark the permalink. ← Te Rau Aroha visit – Canteen truck for Maori Battalion www.kamirawhanau.com/?p=1062
(PBR PRBSS ASSOCIATION.) AUCKLAND, November 11. A hoat branded Ventnor, and two boxes containing corpses of Chinese were washed up opposite Tekao. Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume XLII, Issue 7601, 12 November 1902, Page
Press Association. Electric Telegraph Copyright. Auckland, December 30. The steamer Energy has been employed for the past three weeks in an effort to locate the wreck of the Ventnor off Hokianga Heads, with a view to the recovery of the Chinese bodies, There are on the Energy two Chinese representatives and representative Underwriters. The Chinese are sparing no expense, especially for the recovery of the coffin containing the body of Sew Hoy, of Otago. Deceased's relatives are willing to pay from Â£2000 to Â£3000 to secure his burial on Chinese soil. Four coffin, which were washed ashore, are alleged to have been broken open by Maoris searching for money, Marlborough Express, Volume XXXVII, Issue 302, 31 December 1902, Page 4
[PER Press Association.] AUCKLAND, Sept. 25. The bodies of eleven Chinamen are to be disinterred at Auckland and forwarded immediately to Dunediin. for shipment by the Ventnor. s Star , Issue 7516, 25 September 1902, Page 3
George Martin, Coastwaiter, Hokianga - "Ventnor" SS - bound from Wellington to Hong Kong - reporting foundered off Hokianga Heads 28 October. 17 crew arrived at port - 2 other boats sighted. Leila Martin, Telephonist reported Coast Waiter left with steamer "Energy" to assist; Evening Star - 4 November 1902, Auckland - "Ventnor" SS - newspaper clipping giving a report on the loss of this vessel, H G Ferry, Master - said to have drowned when the ship foundered; "Ventnor" - List of crew as per Articles dated 25 October 1902. [Names at variance in the Evening Star list are shown in brackets] J Cameron, Chief Officer; W S Ure, 3rd Officer; Donald Baillie [Ballie], 2nd Engineer; John H Muir, 3rd Engineer; F Fischer, Fireman; W Wagner, Fireman; W Steinbuck [Steenbuck]; H Muhs [Musks], Steward; A Nielson [Nilson]; T Ericson [Erickson], AB; C Johannsen [Janeysand], AB; J McDougall, Fireman; P Metzemer [Metzner, Wetzemer], AB; M Kagajuchi [Hasijuchu?]; Ah Chung, Cook; C Ah Mei, Cook; J N Chang, Mess Boy; A Fraser [Frazes], Fireman; C Chix [Oheis] AB; W E Lawson, 2nd Officer, believed drowned; W Sleger [Schleyer], Carpenter, believed drowned; P De Mahe [Demahn], Boatswain, believed drowned; J McCash, Chief Engineer, believed drowned; R Taylor, 4th Engineer, believed drowned; G Van Poppell, Fireman, believed drowned; Y Jusaki [Nigasaka], Fireman; J N Barnes, Ordinary Seaman; A Karlson, AB; De Guot, Fireman; M Teterson, AB; Kum Foo [Toi Foo?], Body Servant/Passenger; Long Hung, Body Servant/Passenger; Gum Kum Young, Body Servant/Passenger; Gee Him [Gee Jim?], Body Servant/Passenger; Lee Sam, Body Servant/Passenger; thingy Young, Body Servant/Passenger; Chow Hing [Toi Chow Sing?], Body Servant/Passenger; Chow Chew [Toi Chew?], Body Servant/Passenger; Yu Lung, Body Servant/Passenger; Emil Rannow, Fireman - named in Evening Star as a missing crew member - but not listed in Ship's Article www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ViewFullItem.do?code=16230318
THE CAPTAIN AND TWO OFFICERS LOST. THE CHINESE BONES GO TO THE BOTTOM. AUCKLAND, October 29. The steamer Ventnor, from Wellington, loaded with bodies of resurrected Chinese, struck a rock eff Cape Egmont on Sunday night, and foundered off Hokianga. ADDITIONAL PARTICULARS. HOW THE VENTNOR STRUCK. HOKIANGA, 10.30 a.m. The steamer Ventnor, which left Wellington for Hongkcaig on Sunday, foundered j off Hokianga Bar last night at about a quarter to 9 o'clock. j The Ventnor left Wellington, as stated, ou Sunday with 500 Chinese bodies and 6400 tons of coaL She was owned by Gow, Harrison, and Co., of Glasgow, her port of register, and was captained by H.- G. Ferry. Before she had been long out, at 40 minutes after midnight on Sunday a shock i which shook the vessel from stem -to stern made it manifest to everyone on board that the fteamer had struck a rock, subsequent investigations showing that the reef hit was to the southward of Cape Egmont. I The engines were at once reversed, and in a short time the vessel maaiaged to get off. The wells were then sounded, and the I vessel a-sg headed off tin) shore to a cafe 1' distance and then proceeded up the coast. Meanwhile the steam pumps were got to work, but from the first it was found that they were unequal to, the task of coping 1 with the 'inflow, and gradually the water gained, rising higher and higher in the holds. 1 On Tuesday morning it was found that i the ballast tanks in the peak were full, putting the steamer down by the head and j making it evident that she had but a short time to float. In the evening her bow was so far under water that she became unâ€¢ manageable, and it was seen that she was 1 gradually sinking, despite every effort that j could be made. At about 9 p.m. it became evident that the vessel was going down fast, and all hands were were ordered to the j 'boats. These were launched by their respective crews, who immediately pulled I away from the sides of the doomed vessel. Hardly had they reached a safe distance when the vessel's stern rose in the air and she sank, bow first. j Hokianga Heads light was- seen- at a dis! tance of about Id miles, and, the boats 1 pulled in <he direction of the light! At daylight this morning two boats* arrived at Omapere Beach, beating 14 -of the crew, j including the chief mate (Joha Cameron), j second and third engineers' (D. Bailie' an:* K. Muir), two cooks and a messman. TVfr Martin (harbourmaster) took the small steamer Energy out of ihe Whangape to pick up two more boats which were sighted 1 from the pilot station. One of these was picked up a$ 10 o'clock, but the other had not been reached at the time of wiring. Besides her crew of 51 persons, including fire Chinese, the Ventnor had six Chinese 1 passengers. The Ventnor is the third vessel i lost on .the west coast within the short space of five weeks. The name of the j Ventnor became very familiar to the public of New Zealand since her jrival in Aucki land from Java on the 22nd inst., owing j to the fact that she was chartered to con- i vey close upon 500 L bodies of Chinese from j New Zealand, %-ia Hongkong, to China, for reinterment in the Celestial country. The reef on which the Ventnor struck, to the i southward of Cape Egmont, is in the j j vicinity of the reef on which the unfortu- uafce barque Lizzie 801 l was wrecked, with i coneidera'ble loss of life, about three years 1 ago. The Lizzie Bell struck on the rocks i j near the mouth of the Oeo River, and an I 1 agitation was set on foot to induce the Goj vernment to erect a lighthouse there. Noi tiling, however, camo of tlie suggestion. The steamer Lord Wolseley was totally wrecked not far away on the Taranaki coast in the sixties. The. following is a/ list of the Ventnor's craw:â€” Captain, H. G. Ferry; chief officer, j John Cameron; second officer. A. E.Law"-i eon; chief engineer, J. M'Cach; second engineer, D. Bailie; third engineer K. Muir: fourth engineer, R. Taylor; steward.. H.- Mohr; cooksâ€” Ghow 'Ah Chong and Chew Ah Mcc; messroom boy, Jan.- Ah Cheng: donkeyinan, F. Fischer; carpenter; W. Schleyer; crewâ€” H. Wilson. H. Eriokson, G. Lony. C. Johansen, P. !N. Wezem, C Speix, M. Kaiiaguob, W. Tetsupiro, J. Pingoto, P. Mahu; firemen W. Wagner, Sfcenibach, E. Rannow. G. Van Soppel W. Black, S. M'Dougal, Y. Jussku. There are 60 fathoms of water 10 miles off Hokianga Heads, decreasing- gradually to 30 fathoms within three miles from the par. The place where the sunken steamer j lies appears tc be somewhere about 10 rr.iles from the Jiore, so that she probably lies now in over 300 ft of water. The prospects of any salvage are accordingly out of the question, considering the depth and the exposed locality. HOKIANGA HEADS, 1.30 p.m. The b.s. Energy has just returned with the Ventnor's third boat's crew, consisting of 10 men six Europeans and four Chinamen. The boat was picked up two miles past Whangape (north of Hokianga). The crew were making for Cape Maria Van Diemen. The boat was half full of water when picked up, and the men were very exhausted. They had to be lifted on beard the Energy. The crew suopese that the fourth boat was capsized. They state that the last they saw of the captain was when he and the third mate jumped overboard together from the sinking steamer. Both are supposed to hare been drowned. There are stated to have been 11 men in the missing bomt.- HOKIANGA. October 30. The fourth boat from the Ventnor is still jni-sing. AUCKLAND. October 29. The steamer Energy rescued the third boat from the Ventnor, with six Europeans j and four Chinese. The boat was half full iof water. The men were very much ex! hausted. They believe the fourth boat capsized. i They state that the captain and third mate jumped overboard when the Ventnor wa3 fiiukiug. and they believe both were drowned. 1
'Co -file- captain when going off the vessel: I f*' My word, captain, your vessel is in fine j 'trim, though sue has slight list to etaxboard." ,When coal-trimmed a vessel would nave fully 2in more freeboard. Captain Smith was particularly struck with the handy appliances for launching boats in case of emergency. One of the seamen (M. Fraser) wh placed on the ship's articles in Wellington. November 3. The inquiry into the wreck of the steamer Vmtnor will be held at Auckland on the feturn of 'the chief officer from a search for the missing boat's crew. NEW November 3. A. Pongarehu message states that the principal keeper of CapÂ» Egmont lighthouse reports seeing the Ventnor hove-to four miles due west of the lighthouse on Monday last .at daylight. Suspecting that something was wrong, he signalled B X," meaning, Has any accident happened?" Although the flags were flying an hour, no answer was given, and at 6.30 the vessel shaped her course northward. She appeared to be very 'much down by the head. GREYMOUTH, October 29. One hundred and seventy-seven Chinese bodies, 'or bones^and remains of same, were 'shipped at Greymouth. Some had been in the cemetery for 20- 'years, while others Tiad new'been interred. The Chinese com-- Triunity here" are in a great state of excitement; over the "foundering of the Vehtnor j-with -the. bodies aboard. The Alliance. Insurance Company had .a line of Â£4650 (of which Â£1860 was reinsured jwith the-OSouth British). That company Landed Â£860^0^5 ta riekHo the Standard Insurance 'Company. 'insurance' reoresents. the- amopn^ of- the outlay to .which, the; â– Chinese went in disinterring the bodies and preparing them for shipment. The Ventnor was one of the colliers under charter to the Admiralty to take coal from '"Wertport to the China naval station. She was a new steel steamer of 3961 tone gross. having been built at Glasgow in 1901 for â€¢the Ventnor Shipping Company, of that port. Her length was 3*4 ft ?in, breadth 48ft Bin, and depth of hold 25ft 7in. Her nominal horse-power was 346. WESTPORT, October 3G. Captain Perry, of the Ventnor, was a native of, Glasgow. His wife and' family reeide at Southampton (England). The Vent -nor 'was' insured for between Â£45,000 and Â£50,000, and was on her first voyage to this colony. Twelve months ago she was stranded on the rocks in Japanese waters for 24- hours. The coal freight was paid* to the charterers by the Admiralty on the completion of her loading, but the time charter of the steamer expired with .the wreck. FEELING AMONG THE CHINESE IN DUNEDIN. The Chinese in Dunedjn ,were closely -â– canning the map of New Zealand on Thursday. Some of them had never seen it before, and it was only after a search that they spotted Hokianga up near the top of 4^e jsheet^ MTbey; (razed long and eagerly at the sea space. In imagination they probably -caw the' Ventnor lying on the ocean's bed, .with .the, bones of their' soo countrymen 5h her -hold ;c-but; c but --whether that- was- the^ trend- of~-.iheir-thoughts or not, .they all appear to realise that .there is no hope of cecovering -anything from -the vessel, especially ai it* position* is undefined.' Even' if the vessel breaks; up the cases would not come' to the -surface, ac each of them contains a considerable weight. The occurrence ssÂ» of coarse, regarded as most unfortunate, and many of the Chinese, their faces sober â€¢t any time, now wear countenances on -which is very plainly expressed the great depth of their feelings, amounting almost to alarm. It is the first time anything oi. the sort has happened to a vessel carrying to the Flowery Land the bones of their fellows. Twenty-one years ago the Hoi How sailed from the colony with the first consignment of remains, consisting of the bones of about 220 Chinamen, and reached her haven safely. No vessel has come to the colony since that date, and it was in the Ventnor that the bones, and in a few cases the bodies, of the Chinese who have died subsequent to that year were being taken away, like the Hoi How's cargo, for reinterment in China. The peace of mind, therefore, of the Chinese residents of Otago, indeed of New Zealand, is considerably disturbed at the- present time, and, as a matter of fact, it is a subject on which the majority of them will, when questioned, say very little. The iere intelligent of them it w useless to approach, for atrany time they are not communicative, and now they will say absolutely nothing. That was the experience of one of our reporters who mixed with a number of them on Thursday. Cape Egmont was also located om, the snap, and a matter concerning which much surprise was expressed is that, the vessel, after striking, did not at once make for Jfew Plymouth or return to Wellington. The Ventnor had on board the remains of 265 Chinese from Dunedin, inducting those of the "late Mr Ah Ching and the late Mr Sew Hoy. These, together with 11 cases of personal effects of the dead men, were shipped by the Bimu to Wellington, where they were transhpiped to the Ventnor. The coffins containing the remains of the Chinamen who had died comparatively recently were zinc-lined cases, which were soldered up and placed within outer kauri shells made of liin wood, and securely screwed together and varnished while the remains of those whose decease had occurred some years ago were placed in mbstantiallv-made cases of a somewhat smaller size. The remains of Messrs Sew Hoy and Ah Ching were, however, graced with coffins of the customary Enelish style, but built of handsomely-polished rimu. Otago Witness , Issue 2538, 5 November 1902, Page 30
WELLINGTON, This Day. The Chief Health Officer ia having inquiries made on the subject of the disinterment by Chinese of bodies of their countrymen, which is said to be carried oa on a wholesale scale just now. Dr Mteon thinks that a period of abont 15 years ought to elapse after banal before disnterments are permitted Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XXXVI, Issue 210, 6 September 1902, Page 3
Loss of population has been a serious drawback to the West Coasfc of recent years. The region has now discovered that it is also losing a large proportion of iLs valuable Necrojolitan vote, which is a very great factor in "right colour" elections. Hence the alarm and indignation felt at Greymouth in regard to the proposed disinterment of about; 140 deceased Chinese citizens for removal to the b'lowery Land are readily understood. The proposal of the surviving compatriots of the dear departed was to resurrect and scrape off the much less recent fragments adhering to the canonised bones, and ship the latter to China in assorted parcels. The Greymouth Council Refused permission to disinter but the Colonial Secretary, without consulting the local authorities, had already granted the Chinese, such permission. He had also permitted the (Jreyinouth scraped bones to be stored in Greymouth with bones from other parts of the West Coast consigned to Greymouth for parcel delivery in China, and this in a building adjoining a public street and close to a number of residences, Now all this has caused ructions in Greymouth. The people living in the houses adjacent to the temporary Golgotha of the Chinese have felt creepy and imagined pig-tailed and slantingeyed ghosts flitting across their vision. As a result, more Occidentale, several highly respected citizens have been practising homwopathy, vsz., taking in spirits to keep spirits out. There is also a legend in the near neighbourhood of the warehouse (Webber's old brewery) that at the unchancy hour of midnight there have been heard a rattling and chattering, as if the assorted bones got together and walked." As a matter of course, the Greymouth Council got on its hind legs," and brought pressure to bear on the Government, and eventually an official wire waa received to the effect that steps will be taken to remedy the matter and it is understood that a special sarcophagus, from the madding crowd, will have to be erected. Of course the two local papers at Greymouth take sides in the matter. The Star "is very horrified and gruesome, and demands instant abolition of the ghastly trade, while the poohpoohs funk and describes the scraping of Chinese bonea as a nice pleasant sort of domestic occupation undertaken. by the various colonies of Chinese as a sort of corn-husking bee, at which they sit around and chat and smoke and have a good time generally with the dear departed. The Argus thus described the process The graves are opened, the bones taken out of the mould that clings around them. They are then washed clean, counted, and tied up in white parcels, each leg and arm in parcels by themselves, and all placed in a big bundle, with the name of deceased and the destination to enable it to be deliveiS ied to deceased's relations. When the j Chinese are engaged in disinterring they smoke and chat as comfortably as if they I were peeling potatoes. There is no smell I or anything about the process calculated !to create disgust." Whereupon the Star retorted that it could not go one better, not being an expert in the science of resurrectionists. Which is almost as good as the sarcastic ro joinder of quiet Mr Brown of Calaveras in Bret Harbe's wellknown poem. However, the upshot of it is that Webber's brewery is not to be haunted by the scraped anatomies of the pig-tailed dead, as a separate and remote building is to be erected for the purpose But i he large and flourishing bones ex- 1 port industry carried on in Greymouth as a distributing centre is not to be materially interfered with. That is to say, the town is to suffer a serious loss of electoral population by the removal of the remains of about 140 Chinese citizens, now domiciled in the local cemetery. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XXXV, Issue 158, 15 July 1901, Page 2