On April 10, 1968 the Wahine passenger ship foundered on Barrett Reef near the Wellington heads in New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster since 1909. Winds of 125 knots blew across Cook Strait when a cyclone and southerly front collided. 51 people drowned, 47 on the eastern shore, many driven against sharp rocks near Eastbourne. Two people died later of injuries.
There were so many deadly maritime disasters in the 1800s in New Zealand waters that drowning was known as ‘the New Zealand death’.
Hutt News, 13 April 2010.
On April 10, 2010, Wahine survivors, crew, police and Eastbourne residents gathered at Korohiwa to see the Wahine’s foremast erected as a memorial on the Eastbourne coast at the place where many survivors came ashore. Joint efforts by the Eastbourne Historical Society, Community Board and the Hutt City Council saw the memorial established. Survivor Shirley Hicks, who lost two children to the tragedy, tied a bunch of flowers to the flag rope.
On April 10 in 2018 the 50th Wahine Day will be commemorated the “Wahine 50th Charitable Trust” has announced. It’s working with Councils and planning a dawn service at Eastbourne, a midday event on Wellington’s waterfront, and afternoon visit to the Wahine memorials at Seatoun. A reunion lunch will be included for survivors, rescuers and family members of those on board the Wahine the day it sank at the entrance to Wellington harbour.