Remembering the victims, survivors and rescuers of the Wahine tragedy

Prime Minister and Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Wahine disaster at an event in Wellington today.

“Today we acknowledge the people and the families of the people who lost their lives in the disaster and recognise the survivors and their families,” said Jacinda Ardern.

“We also thank the rescuers who helped save 683 lives of the passengers and crew of the Wahine.

“The local Eastbourne and Seatoun communities helped survivors ashore and looked after them before they got further care from police and civil defence. The efforts of the rescuers, and the fact that so many lives were saved, marked a truly notable moment in our history.

“The legacy of the Wahine is one of sadness for the lives lost, but also one of gratitude to the rescuers.

“The Wahine disaster was a tragedy that affected our country deeply and is an important part of the story about what it means to be a New Zealander.”

The 1968 Wahine disaster was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster. Fifty-one people lost their lives that day, another died several weeks later and a 53rd victim died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck.

“The Wahine disaster is one of the six major disasters of the century that affected New Zealand and our history. The tragedies of the influenza pandemic, Hawkes Bay earthquake, Tangiwai railway disaster, Erebus disaster, Canterbury earthquake and Wahine disaster all had a significant impact on our country.

“Recognising events, such as the Wahine tragedy, ensures New Zealanders are aware of our history. It’s important that we learn from these tragedies and continue to build our resilience as a country,” said Jacinda Ardern.

For more information on the Wahine Disaster visit the NZ History website Information on 20th century shipwrecks can be found on Te Ara: