PGF funding for SS Ventnor memorial

  • Hon Shane Jones
Regional Economic Development

A memorial to the SS Ventnor and those who were lost when it sank off the Hokianga coast in 1902 has been granted $100,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for its construction at the new Manea Footprints of Kupe centre in Opononi, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.

The Ventnor was chartered to repatriate to China’s Guangdong province the remains of 499 Chinese miners who died in New Zealand. When it sank the remains were lost, along with 13 sailors and passengers who died in the wreck.

“It was thought all the remains were lost forever,” Shane Jones said.

“In 2007 it was discovered some bones had washed ashore. They were gathered up by Hokianga locals, including iwi members from Te Roroa and Te Rarawa, and buried near Te Roroa ancestral burial grounds and the local Rawene cemetery.

“Once that was discovered, the New Zealand Chinese Association talked to the descendant families and it was decided a memorial would be built to honour the lost ancestors and to thank the people of Hokianga, especially Te Roroa and Te Rarawa.”

Information panels at the memorial will commemorate those lost and outline the history of the event in English, Māori and Chinese languages.

The memorial will be a key feature of the Northland Regional Council’s Wandering With Ancestors trail, a cornerstone project in Northland’s Economic Action Plan.

The memorial was designed by Auckland and New York-based TT Architects whose founders, Richard Tam and Robert Tse, are both descendants of early Chinese New Zealand settlers.