Brynderwyn bus disaster memorial

Memorial to the 15 victims of a bus crash at Brynderwyn, between Whangarei and Wellsford,  on 7 February 1963. The memorial stone was unveiled on 7 February 2003 by descendants of those who died.

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Translation of the plaque above:

He whakamaharatanga tēnei mō te matenga hinepōuri o ngā tūpuna i te 7 o Pepuere 1963.
This is a memorial to the tragic deaths of our loved ones on 7 February 1963.

He pahi aituā i taka i konei i te hokinga mai i te rā whakahirahira o te Tirīti o Waitangi
In an accident a bus fell here on the return from attending Waitangi Day.

Kei raro iho ngā rārangi ingoa
The names of those who died are listed below [see next image].

Huraina tēnei kōhatu i te 7 o Pepuere 2003 Nā ngā uri whakatipu
This stone was unveiled on 7 February 2003 by the descendants of those who died.

I ngā ringaringa o Ihoa koutou e moe
You now slumber in the arms of the Lord.

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Community contributions

12 comments have been posted about Brynderwyn bus disaster memorial

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Posted: 25 May 2015

My name is Gerald Cunningham. My family and I were the first on the scene of this terrible accident in 1963. We were returning to Auckland from a camping holiday at Haruru Falls and following a bus down the Brynderwyns when all of a sudden the bus disappeared. I remember being quite shocked as we had no idea the bus was in trouble. It was there in front of us one minute and gone the next. My father Gordon Cuuningham knew something was wrong and drove up the metal farm road to what was a scene of carnage. The bus was unrecognisable as a bus and the passengers were in a heap on the ground right beside it. There was very little movement and the only movement I remember initially was a man with a badly cut throat wandering around in a daze. My father served in Greece and Crete during WW11 and he later said he had never seen such carnage. My mother Margaret Cunningham was a former nurse but there was very little we could do for the injured. We had tents in the car and quickly erected a tent to shelter the injured from the sun. We also used most of our bedding to wrap the injured in and try to make them comfortable. There was little more that we could do for the injured before ambulances eventually arrived. Obviously there were horrific scenes but these were mainly ignored and we were bent on removing the living from among the dead and looking after them until help could arrive.


Posted: 14 May 2015

My name is jason Nathan sun of James Nathan sun of Steve Nathan I remember that day the local policeman came to the farm house where we lived in Raetihi and he popped his head through the window and said Jim I got some sad news your dad's just died in a bus crash dad told me to go outside and play boy I did he carried on talking to the police. I went down to the bush to play as I was wondering through the bush I found a large old white morpork laying dead on the forest floor it was a awesome bird .I brushed the pine needles apart made a hole put the bird in an covered it up sayed by it till dark then went home. For tea dad was still in his room he was ill for days could not get to his dads funeral. Really sad time.

Tan Turoa

Posted: 04 Feb 2013

There will be an acknowledgement/service/ gathering of all who were touched in some way by this tradgedy, at the Brynderwyn memorial site this Wednesday 6th February.
This is to commorate the 50years since the tragedy.
For more information contact Ngawai Beazley

1993 Brynderwyn Committee Member


Posted: 01 Feb 2013

Kia Ora Whanau
Ko Samm Kidwell toku ingoa
Ko Tauwahre toku maunga
Ko Whiti Te Ra toku marae
Ko Waipatukahu toku awa
Ko Ngati Whatua toku iwi
Ko Roy James Kidwell toku papa
Ko Ruth toku mama
I am 17yrs old and 1 of 3 daughters of Roy James Kidwell and a grandchild to Nana Levia and Popa Lance also i am a name sake of my dad's sisters who he tragically lost in the Brynderwyn accident and also tragic lost of his mum Levia. Every year it rolls round my dad tells us the story so we understand what happened also my dad's 2 brothers were on the bus Pute & Byron Kidwell who survived the accident it is very sad & touching for my family every year for my Kidwell side especially. I was born when it happen but my dad always reminds me how i was name sake of his sisters.. this yr is 50yrs for the accident and will be a day for my whanau to grieve for our loved ones...
Kia Kaha
Toku Whanauxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Valma Tapene

Posted: 18 Jan 2013

Tena koutou. January 18th 2013. Am I the only survivor left? My cousin who sat beside me passed away two years ago. I will at the memorial on the 7th.

Brynderwyn Comm...

Posted: 05 Jun 2012

To All Whanau who had loved ones lost or who who survived the tragedy.
Next Year Febuary 7th (Weekend of the 9th and 10th February 2013) marks 50 years since this tragedy happened.
I believe we should acknowledge this time, as it is still quite present amongst us all even today, and affected a wider community.
I was only 4 years when this happened.
So a Hui will be called at Reweti Marae(not sure of a date yet) for all those who want to participate and share-
but more importantly to move forward and collectively look at what would be needed for this week-end -What do you want-and it would also be neccesary to form a Committee-Your thoughts would be appreciated please???

Edwin Kidwell

Posted: 13 Feb 2012

A terribly dark day in our history.
My two brothers, Pute and Byron Kidwell survived the tragedy, and have endured the eternal torture of the experience since that day. Neither receiving any assistance to help them cope.
Our sister Celia, mother Levia, grandmother Miriama, great-grandmother Beryl, all losing their lives.
Being only three years of age at the time, I sadly have no recollection of any of them or the immediate years that followed.


Posted: 12 Oct 2011

Kia ora koutou katoa. I did not lose any whanau in this tragic accident but feel alot of aroha to all the whanau who did. The after effects will probably impact those involved and coming generation. My papa lived in Maungaturoto and was one of many who scrambled down the hill to help remove wounded and dead. My papa had nightmares of this accident for many years but was glad he could help. I really do feel for all the whanau involved.

Don Hutcheson

Posted: 28 Jul 2011

My Uncle Tamaio Paiki was following the bus and scrambled down the hill to help remove wounded and dead. That night he came to our house in Takapuna, somber and shaken, to discard his bloody clothes, shower and sleep. I was only 13 but the name Brynderwyn is seared in my memory. Uncle Tom noted that every royal visit had brought some disaster involving Maori.

John Tapene

Posted: 30 Nov 2010

Tena koe, tena koutou My father was one of those who was killed in this crash. Also on the bus was my mother, elder sister, aunty and cousin all of whom survived. Over the years we have attended several gatherings of families of those killed in the crash but because we were from outside of the hapu/iwi of Reweti Marae I suppose we were often seen as outsiders and not really part of the immediate whanau. At the unveiling of the memorial in 2003 my brothers and sisters attended as a family. My aunty passed away in 1990 and mum in 2001 so both missed the opportunity to see a memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives. My cousin attended the memorial service but not the kai hakari -she lost the use of both her lower limbs as a result of the accident and returned home to Auckland after the dawn service. The rest of us travelled to the top of the Hill after the service, the first time my sister had gone over the Hill since the accident. She either refused to travel north or would go via Mangawhai or Maungaturoto. After a cup-o-tea at the cafe at the top of the hill we returned to the Marae at Oruawharo where and I took the opportunity to speak on behalf of my father, mother, sister, aunty and cousin. As a family, we had grown up around the accident and often talked about what had happened. It has been awkward hearing stories of what supposedly happened when we had heard from those who were seated at the very front of the bus about what did happen with the driver who tried to stop the bus, about some of the passengers who helped the driver try to stop the bus, about several passengers ensuring others stayed calm, about passengers in cars following the bus who noted something was wrong and about what they did when they arrived at the scene, about the aftermath from different perspectives. We have also talked long and hard about the impact the accident had on us, the Tapene family of seven children under the age of 15 who grew up from that day with no father. It was my father who had arranged the bus. On the day the passengers were due to leave the bus company said they didn't have a bus available because they had double booked. So the bus they used to travel up north was a very late replacement, so too the driver, and as eventuated, the bus was not roadworthy. The crash led to many changes in practice particularly around registration and warranting of passenger vehicles. Everyone who lost someone in that accident or whose life was affected as a result has memories on a regular basis. Being a regular driver past the accident site I often stop in and just sit. Of the thirty or forty times that I have stopped there I have been the only person but there are definite signs that there are regular visitors be it newly placed mementos, freshly weeded areas or recent tryes tracks the memorial will continue to beckon us as we live with the thought that on that fateful day in 1963, not only did we lose 15 people we could ill afford to lose but the after effects are ongoing.