|The "Ventnor Project"
The Story & Wreck of the Ventnor
In the hauntingly beautiful Hokianga, took place a story
of two cultures and a discovery that closes a chapter in
The story began in 1902 when a ship, the S.S. Ventnor
left Otago carrying the bones of around 500 Chinese
gold miners. They were returning to their homeland, but
tragically the ship sank off the Hokinga bar just a day
after leaving New Zealand on 29 October 1902. Woven
through the sands of the remote Hokianga Coast, the
secret was kept for more than a hundred years before it
was finally uncovered.
To discover and commemorate this loss, the Ventnor
Project, has been undertaken since 2009 and led by
Wong Liu Shueng and a group of NZ-Chinese to research
the whole story of the wreck of the Ventnor and its
context - where the bones on board came from, the
villages they were being sent to - from the Chinese point
of view. But it was and is a story of all communities and
tribes in the area.
Ms Wong made contact with local iwi, Te Roroa, elders,
who confirmed their ancestors had gathered the bones
and buried them. Many were laid to rest in a wahi tapu
just south of Kawerua, on the edge of Waipoua Forest.
She also made contact with Te Rarawa further north,
who had passed down similar stories, and began
organising ceremonies to put the miners' souls to rest and
give thanks to west coast iwi.
The papers and and research from the project have now
been handed over for safekeeping in the Hokianga
Historical Society Museum.
More recently, moves have been taken to preserve and
protect the wreck and site which is about 15 kms
offshore, by placing the wreck on the NZ Archaeological
Association's site recording scheme.
The wreck has also now been gazetted by Heritage NZ,
meaning no more items may be removed from it without
|The S.S. Ventnor
|The S.S. Ventnor survivors outside Mr. Bryers house on the
beach at Omapere - Photo courtesy of the Sir George Grey
collection, Auckland Public Libraries
|The "Auckland Star" of 30 October 1902 (courtesy of
|Hokianga History and Memorabilia