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Sinking of the SS Otaki


K.T. Roussell’s painting of the New Zealand Shipping Company cargo liner Otaki battling the German commerce raider Moewe on 10 March 1917. Read more about this battle.

Because the survivors were taken prisoner, it was some time before the Otaki's fate was known. On 5 July 1917 the Auckland Weekly News reported on the battle:

Mr R McNISH, late Chief Officer of the Otaki, now a prisoner at Karlsruhe, has contacted the NZ Shipping Co: ‘I beg to state that the Otaki was sunk on 10 March by a German cruiser. I regret to report the following casualties:

Captain SMITH went down with his ship.
Chief Steward WILLIS was drowned.
KILNER and MARTIN, apprentices, and KEWSTON, seaman, and A H LITTLE, third engineer, were killed.
GLITZ, trimmer, had a leg amputated.
JACKSON, seaman, PAYNE, apprentice, LANCASTER, RANDALL and GROVES, firemen, were wounded but not seriously.

Several others were slightly wounded. All hands lost every stitch they had except what they stood up in. Please excuse postcard, as it is all I am allowed to write.’


National Collection of War Art, Archives New Zealand
Reference: AAAC 898 NCWA Q200
Further information and copies of this image may be obtained from Archives New Zealand through its 'War Art' website,
Permission of Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

How to cite this page

Sinking of the SS Otaki, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated