Not many remember the 'Sophia Pate' 1841 Kaipara Harbour

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Not many remember the Sophia Pate
New Zealand Bound

and the cowardly actions of the captain - South Head of Kaipara Harbour 1841

James Salter of Limerick negotiated with Parore for about 1000 acres of land in the Kaihu district. Salter returned to Ireland and organised a group of four families to emigrate to Kaipara. passenger list. Here it was that the Sophia Pate was lately lost; when all her passengers perished, a more melancholy looking spot could scarcely be conceived, not even by the most creative imagination. Cause incorrect and untrustworthy sketches pass into our charts as surveys.  map 

SOPHIA PATE, brig, of 165 tons was wrecked at the end of August 1841 at Kaipara Harbour with the loss of 21 lives. The crew saved.  She had sailed from Auckland on 12th August for the Bay of Islands with 25 passengers.

Taranaki Herald,  25 March 1893, Page 2

THE SOPHIA PATE. Mr G. Eliot furnishes the Dunedin Star with the following incident which occurred in the early days of the colony. He writes : —"It is not very probable that anyone in Dunedin ever heard of the Sophia Pate — in fact, I fear there are very few left in Auckland who remember the circumstances connected with her. The Sophia Pate was a schooner of perhaps 150 or 160 tons; the may have been more, but not much, and was chartered in Ireland by some half dozen Wesleyan families to bring them out to form a settlement on the Kaipara River. When the vessel was about leaving Ireland in 1841, a strange circumstance occurred. The wife of one of the charterers declared that she would not come out in the vessel, because (she said) she had dreamed more than once that the Sophia Pate with all hands, would be lost. No argument or persuasion could shake her determination. The end of it was that her husband, who would not leave without her, took all his goods and luggage out of the vessel, forfeited his portion of the charter money, which he had paid, and the Sophia Pate sailed without them. The vessel arrived safely in Sydney after a somewhat long but uneventful voyage. There Mrs Stannard (one of the passenger) remained in order to obtain medical attendance at the birth of her first child, but her husband came on in the vessel to the Bay of Islands, where he landed, to proceed overland to the Kaipara, and make arrangements for the reception of the rest of the party. The captain put in at the Bay for the purpose of obtaining a pilot to take the vessel into the Kaipara, which has a dangerous bar  at the entrance. He was, how over, unable to find anyone capable of doing so, and came on to Auckland with the same object, but was there equally unsuccessful. Lie, however, obtained such information as he believed would enable him to take the vessel into the Kaipara himself. Accordingly, he left Auckland and arrived off the Kaipara, but in going in the vessel struck on the bar. The great Southern Ocean immediately swept over the doomed vessel with great rolling seas, the longboat, which was on deck, being destroyed. The only other boat, a gig, was got into the water, and, cowards that they were, four of the sailors and the captain himself immediately got into her, saving the rest of the crew and two passengers, us they knew, to inevitable destruction. The captain said he was going to the shore for assistance, but he and everyone on board felt assured that before assistance could be rendered to them, even if it could be obtained, the vessel would be battered to pieces and every soul drowned. The captain had his wife, one or two daughters, and a baby boy in the vessel. He took the boy into the boat with him, leaving the others to their fate.  His wife begged and prayed of him to take her in he boat, but he refused, and forcibly prevented her from getting in. As the boat pushed off she jumped overboard, and managed to catch hold of the gunwale, when—oh! that there should be such brutes in the world—he took one of the iron thole pins out of the rowlocks and rapped her knuckles with it till the bones were bare, and from sheer pain she let go and the wretch calmly looked on while she drowned, making no effort to save her, neither would he permit the men in the boat to do so, and she was far from the vessel for those on board to help her. Of course the vessel and all on board were lost.  The captain and the four sailors reached the shore, where they met with more humanity from the Maoris than they had shown their countrymen and women. They found their way to Auckland over land. The captain's heartless conduct soon got bruited about, and he was apprehended and charged with the manslaughter of his wife ; but of course, when brought before the Court, the case was dismissed, he was, however, a marked man, and everyone shunned him. Auckland was socially made too hot for him ; he left and went to Sydney, taking his baby boy with him. Who and what he was was soon known there; he could obtain no employment. Sydney was worse than Auckland ; he took to drink, gave it to the poor little boy, and within a year both died. Mrs Stannard joined her husband in Auckland afterwards. Mr Stannard was ordained in the Wesleyan Church, bored long and efficiently as a missionary amongst the Maoris, and when he retired from active work he settled at Wanganu North. Both he and Mrs Stannard have been dead some years, but the daughter, born in Sydney, the only child they ever had, is married, and has been living for some years somewhere in New Plymouth.

New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 17 July 1841

The Sophia Pate had sailed for Hokianga and other ports.

New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 31 July 1841

The Sophia Pate, on board of which the Port Nicholson mail was put, though a vessel was leaving Sydney the same day for this place, was going into Auckland when the Sir John Franklin left.

New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 20 October 1841, Page 3

The Sophia Pate, after visiting Auckland and the Bay of Islands, proceeded to Kiapara, to load timber. She unfortunately got upon a sand bank at the entrance, and has become a total wreck. Melancholy to relate, out of 24 passengers on board, twenty-one met a watery grave. The crew were saved.

The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List Volume 1, Number 8 (11 May, 1844)

The Sophia Pate - This wreck has caused more speculation than most of the people of Auckland are aware of.  She has been sold to five or six different parties, all of whom tried their best to raise her, but without success; the present owner Mr Morley, is likely to succeed better than any of the others, he has succeeded in cutting the cable, and we understand the vessel has risen by this act four feet. - Auckland Chronicle, April 18. Source: Australian Cooperative Digitisation Project

Colonial Secretary's Office (IA)
Inwards Correspondence Register, Archives NZ Wellington
1842/2028 Oct 18 Respecting property left by Mr J.S. Wilkinson lost in ‘Sophia Pate’ (R. Day, Hokianga)

Hon. Patrick DIGNAN was b. in County Galway, Ireland, in 1814. Emigrated to New South Wales in
1839. Came to NZ in June 1841 on the 'Sophia Pate' Died Oct. 20th. 1894.

Daily Southern Cross, 20 November 1855, Page 2
"To the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. "Sir,— In your issue of to-day, there is a paragraph respecting the harbour of Kaipara, in which I am sorry to perceive many errors, which I must beg you, with your accustomed courtesy, to correct, as I feel such a statement must be detrimental to the finest spar and timber district in New Zealand. To commence : the barque Aurora, Captain Heale, 413 tons, was wrecked in 1840, in attempting to go out at night, in what was considered a channel, but where none existed. In 1841 the brig Sophia Pate, from Dublin, was wrecked about six miles from the port, and until 1845 the harbour was condemned. In that year, I was employed by Mr. Wilton Webster, and having a perfect knowledge of the intricacies of the place, I piloted in the brig Portenia ; she was followed by the barque Strathisla belonging to Mr. Vabien Solomon and I then proceeded to Auckland to take round the Mary Catherine, which vessel I safely took through the breakers, beating all the way in, and anchored in safety from Wednesday till Saturday, when the master becoming impatient to get to his loading place, got his ship under weigh in the face of a strong S. W. gale, and not on the main, but on a spit, remained until she was sold for a trifle. I afterwards assisted in getting her off and repairing her, and she not only carried home a valuable cargo of spars, gum, flax, &c, but was for two voyages commanded by Captain Warner, at present of the steamer Shamrock, and, 1 believe, is still afloat. The barque Tory, with Colonel Wakefield and suite on board, touched the shoal that bears her name, but received no material damage. The Almeirie, French frigate, was lost about two years ago, between Hokianga and Kaipara and I must beg to offer my opinion that, ... The New Zealand Government were, I suppose, too poor to pay a pilot, as, although I made many applications I never could get a salary ; and at the same time I was the only, and I believe I am now, the only recognized pilot of Kaipara, and I am prepared to prove, as soon as my time will allow, that nothing but neglect in not furnishing proper charts has occasioned so serious a loss, not only to owners and underwriter, but of life. Edward A. Peacock, Late Commander of barque Brighton, And for years Acting Pilot of Kaipara. "November 5th."

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 29 February 1860, Page 2

At a monthly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, held on the 14th instant, a copy of a correspondence with Lloyd's was laid before the members. It related to a thorough survey of the Chatham Islands by the British Government, and a local inquiry into all wrecks, as provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1854. The following is a copy of a letter addressed by the Admiralty to Lloyd's on the latter portion of this subject : —
Admiralty, 5th October, 1859.
SIR— In reply to your letter of 30th ultimo, and its enclosure, relative to a survey being made of Chatham Islands, as vessels are frequently lost there from the want of proper charts ; I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to state, for the information of the Committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's, that my Lords are quite aware of the imperfect state of the charts, and will be glad, when other important surveys no longer interfere with their taking measures for a survey of the Chatham Islands ; but to make a thorough survey of them, would require a considerable time, as, with their off lying dangers they occupy a space of about 3,500 square miles. I am (Signed) C. Paget.

Captain Halsted, Lloyd's. Mr. Kinross moved the following resolution :— That with reference to the correspondence laid before the Chamber by Iloyd's agent, it is desirable that the General Government be memorialised to bring into operation the provisions of the "Merchant Spamen Act, 1854," for conducting inquiries into wrecks taking place on the coasts of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands. Observing, in so doing that he thought it only right that a tribunal should be legally constituted having power to inquire into the cause of wreck.
Captain Rhodes seconded the motion, which was unanimously adopted. — Independent.

A hazardous entrance - Grounding of the New Zealand Company ship Troy in February 1840 at what is known as the Troy Slip. Loss of the Aurora in April 1840 shipwrecks -have obtained for this harbour a very bad reputation.

A shallow harbour - it is a large basin, into which a tide, rising ten feet at full and change, rushes with great velocity, which, joined with the narrowness of the channel and our imperfect knowledge of the soundings, certainly occasions great danger.
 Wrecks by Region.  Although officially called a harbour, the Kaipara is rarely used for shipping, owing to the treacherous tides and bars at its mouth. For this reason, no large settlements lie close to its shores, although many small communities lie along its coastline. Connected to the open sea by a passage 5 miles (8 km) wide, the interior of the broad, shallow harbour—200 square miles (520 square km) in area. A haven for birds.

TORY, barque, NZ Company, of 382 tons, grounded at Kaipara on 19/12/1839, was refloated, repaired arrived at Wellington

AURORA - A fully rigged ship of 550 tons was wrecked at the mouth of the Kaipara Harbour when sailing for Hokianga on 27th April 1840.

POSTHUMUS, barque, of 500-600 tons under Capt Bruce built at Liverpool in 1798. Though burnt to waterline in 1834 she was repaired. Wrecked at Kaipara on 21 Sept 1853 all hands being saved whilst en route Melbourne-Kaipara.

Taranaki Herald, 26 October 1853, Page 2
The Posthumous was a well known vessel in the East India and colonial trade, of from 500 to 600 tons burden. Originally built at Liverpool in 1898, she had stood thirty six years of hear wear and tear in employ, when in 1831, she was burnet to the water's edge, whilst lying in the West India Docks, London. She was docked, lengthened and almost rebuilt. She received a new classification from Lloyds and passed into the hands of Messrs Marshall and Eldridge, well known shipping agents of London. The barque Posthumous, Capt. Bruce, sailed in ballast from Melbourne, on the 6th of the present month, bound for Kaipara, having on board Mr William Williams of the Tamaki, part owner and passenger. After possible sail was then made for the entrance the tide was at first quarter ebb. At 3 pm the Posthumous entered the main channel, it being visible, no break but a heavy swell. After rounding the elbow on the east side of the Western reef, the Troy shoal and the outer reef were both plainly distinguishable, the sea breaking over both. The sounding at the time were seven - six-and no less than five and a half.  A seaman stationed on the port sang out "halt two." The ship struck very heavily, broke right in two amid-ships, the sea making a clean breach over her. The boats were cleared away. Captain Bruce and his chief mate were the last to leave the the ship. All hands pulled in for land, which they reached at midnight. So rapid was the destruction nothing was saved. They arrived on Auckland Monday evening.

Otago Witness July 29th 1865    page 4
Narrow Escape from Shipwreck. Loss of one life. The three-masted schooner Little Fred, Captain McKenzie, arrived in harbor on Tuesday night last, in a very crippled condition, having lost her mizenmast, and narrowly escaping from being shipwrecked on the Kaipara bar. ... She shopped a heavy sea when she crossed the bar and knocked the captain, cook and two seamen overboard. The seaman John Powell was carried away from the vessel and drowned. New Zealand Herald July 13.

HERCULES, brigantine, of 139 tons built at Dunedin in 1862 went ashore on March 23rd 1874 at Kaipara Heads when outward bound for Sydney.

Ingram and Wheatley's "NZ Shipwrecks" (1972 ed.) :
Rona. Lost with all hands, numbering five all told, about August 12 1881. The schooner was believed to have foundered 20 miles south of South Head, Kaipara Harbour. The hull drifted ashore bottom up and was burned by Maoris. It was evident that the master, Captain Kenneth McKenzie, was unable to find the entrance to Kaipara Harbour, and waited for the weather to moderate, without being aware of his proximity to the coast. The Rona was probably carried by the southerly set of the sea amongst the breakers and capsized.

The Rona, No 78,371, was a schooner of 92 tons register, built at Great Omaha in 1879 by J. Meiklejohn, and owned by McKenzie Brothers. Her dimensions were: length 78ft, beam 20.8 ft, depth 9.2ft. [As a footnote, the Kaipara North Head Light was erected as a result of several similar losses about this time, and first shone in December 1884].

BONNETA, cutter, of 28 tons, built at Matakana in 1861 was wrecked off Kaipara Harbour Bar on September 26th 1866.

The Star Friday December 22 1871
The schooner Midge was totally wrecked at Kaipara. She was insured in the New Zealand Office for £1400, and the cargo in the Pacific for £130.

 FERONIA, barque, Captain J.J. Mitcheson White, of 329 tons built at New Brunswick in 1863, stranded inside Kaipara Heads on May 16th 1877.

Timaru Herald Wednesday 31 August 1887
Auckland 30.
Captain Fairchild on coming into Kaipara with the Stella, found the ketch Recamia, capsized outside the Troy Shoal, and he endeavoured in vain to heave the vessel over with the steam winch. None of the crew were seen. The Recamia, bound from New Plymouth to Kaipara.

Timaru Herald  9 October 1900 page 3
The crew of the barquentine Lord of the Isles, from Sydney, wrecked at Kaipara, north of the North Sand Spit, on Tuesday night at 11 p.m., have arrived at Auckland. The vessel struck on the north spit in a heavy gale. She began to drift into the bight, bumping heavily. Her decks were swept fore and aft. The masts went by the board, and the top sides of the hull were lifted off. At 3 o'clock in the morning the poop deck and top cabin, on which the crew had gathered, suddenly broke loose from the wreck, forming a raft, and drifted ashore with the men. The crew reached Kaipara lighthouse, where they were looked after by the keepers. The cargo was bonedust.

Otago Witness 8th March 1905 pg 49 pg 42 De Manus, photo
The barque Kinclune at Port Chalmers
She was wrecked at Kaipara, Auckland, on Feb. 25 1905. Captain Patterson, and his two apprentices, darling and Drummond had turned in for the night when the barque capsized and they had difficulty getting from their cabins. They were obliged to hold on to the side of the vessel for six hours before hey were rescued from the beach. The vessel's deck, facing seaward left the men without shelter, except a piece of canvas improvised by themselves. They were scantily clothed and suffered greatly from exposure.

Hawke's Bay Weekly Times, 28 October 1867, Page 265
T'was night - the furious tempest raged
The sea ran mountains high'
On my first the hardy mariner
had fixed his anxious eye.

And as by it he steered the ship-
Tho' bold, he held his breath
To think that my frail second was
all between him and death.

On did they fly before the gale,
When a cry so full of dread
Arose above the tempest's roar,
"The breakers rage ahead!"

One word burst from the captain's lips,
That word my whole was said,
And but for that one word, the crew
had been numbered with the dead.

But no, by it the gallant ship
Safe past the danger flew;
Say if you can, what word it was
That staved the happy crew.