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Thursday, 25 April 2019 03:49 am

Shipwreck fans play in shifting sand at Patea

SHIPWRECK fans descended on Patea Beach last week to document a wreck which has been emerging from dunes for the past two years.

The S.S. Waitangi drew the 15 amateur maritime archaeologists from around the lower North Island.

Geoff Potts, a maritime historian based in Wanganui, says he has been studying the re-emergence of the steamship wreck.

“I’ve been watching this phoenix rising from the ashes for about two or three years now,” says Mr Potts.

“We’re hoping in the coming months that it will be exposed even more.”

Mr Potts says the wreck is unusual and he urges people to visit before it disappears beneath the sand again

“It’s interesting to see a wreck above the waterline, along with the complete engine and running gear.”

Elizabeth Charlton, maritime archaeologist and anchor surveyor, monitored the exact GPS co-ordinates of the Waitangi.

“A lot of ship records and details are left out from the original account, including measurements like tonnage and length,” says Mrs Charlton.

“The only way to get this information is to go out and physically measure.”

Mrs Charlton, who is an expert on anchors, says details on the wrecks can determine the date and how old the ship is, if there is no existing data on them.

She says there is plenty of original information about the Waitangi.

Maritime Archaeological Association of New Zealand president Ken Scadden says a field trip to see and survey the wreck was a must.

The association was founded in 1989, and is interested in preservating and exploring New Zealand’s submerged maritime history.

Members currently operate a lab aboard the floating crane Hikitia in Wellington Harbour.

The field trip on Sunday to Patea was to view and document the wreck.

“It’s a chance for us to do measurements and make a record of it,” says Ken.

“I visited the beach about six months ago with a friend, and there wasn’t much to see at that stage.”

The S.S Waitangi, which was owned and operated by the Patea Co-Operative Freezing Company, struck the breakwater along the beach on May 5, 1923.

After being covered with sand over the decades, heavy winds in mid-2010 exposed her hull, and have been exposing more of the vessel since.



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