The Wahine disaster

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Tono kōrero mai

This recording contains radio news coverage of the sinking of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry 'Wahine' on 10 April 1968.
It was filed on the evening of the disaster and contains a detailed description of the cause of the disaster, the death toll and the search and rescue scene.

The recording opens with a news bulletin from the night of the disaster, noting the death toll is rising.

Lindsay McAllum introduces voice reports by NZBC reporter Dick Wauchop describing the harbour, the violent weather and the drifting ferry.

Broadcaster Paddy O'Donnell reports from Worser Bay and then Seatoun wharf. He describes small boats and other craft heading to sea to help. Survivors coming ashore, people brining soup for them, then they are being taken away by bus, many suffering from exposure. Survivors report many of Wahine's lifeboats were unable to be launched.
It is unknown how many people were rescued or how many have been lost. The receding tide has left the stranded ferry high on the rocks.

Interviews with unidentified survivors at Seatoun - the ship's assistant purser says he doesn't know where the captain is, but he feels it was an orderly evacuation and "the elderly women were marvellous."
Another man says there was "a fair bit of panic" and some people jumped overboard.
Another man says some people fell overboard from lifeboats but were dragged back on board.

An official inquiry into the disaster has been announced and the first death confirmed.

A voice report [Dick Wauchop?] on the storm itself and the damage it has caused on land, as well as the tragedy of the Wahine.

A seven year old girl was killed in the Wellington suburb of Northland when roofing iron crashed through her bedroom window. Further news of widespread storm damage around the country, particularly on Coromandel Peninsula.

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Reference number 35818

Media type AUDIO

Source Sound Collection

Credits O'Donnell, Paddy, Reporter;

Duration 00:13:15

Date 10 Apr 1968