Pencarrow Lighthouse documentary

Hear this 1959 Radio New Zealand documentary made to mark the centenary of the Pencarrow Lighthouse.


For Tuesday's ceremony the weather was fine and sunny. But by the time we'd climbed to the lighthouse there was a strong north westerly wind blowing, as you will hear in a moment. The first speaker was Mr A. G. Bagnall of the National Historic Places Trust:

Now the Historic Places Trust in marking spots such as this is giving public recognition to their importance. It is as a corollary naturally concerned that the public should have access to such spots and see them when they wish, subject to the overriding convenience of property owners. In this particular case of course your department sir.

The Minister of Marine, Mr Fox then spoke. He described the early days of the present lighthouse and then he continued:

Before then there was a beacon. It was put up because of the nature of our coast, the approaches to Port Nicholson, and especially because of Barrett's Reef. And there's been well over 100 marine accidents in the approaches to Port Nicholson. The last big one of course was the Wanganella. And although we haven't got exactly Wanganella weather here today we at least have a beautiful day and the panorama looking across from here is magnificent. I would agree with Mr Bagnell that this will be open to visitors to come and look and see, and it's well worth the climb to see the view from here. It's a beautiful site. And we'll be very pleased indeed, the Department will be very pleased indeed, for visitors to come here.

I just want to stress, because I know that everybody who has had any connection with the sea at all knows the value of lighthouses. I remember my first trip what a thrill it was when the man in the lookout sung out ‘light on the starboard bow' or something of that, wherever it was. And what a thrill it was to see that first light. Very often if you were coming in at night the first thing you knew that you were coming within sight of land. And in the days when it took a little longer to travel over the sea than what it does today I can assure you that all seamen welcomed that light, because they knew that the next day, or the next evening, they had a chance to stretch their legs ashore. But lights have saved I would say thousands of lives in any case and they perform a great service, always have done and it'd be impossible of course with a coast like the New Zealand coast which is noted for its wild seas, heavy seas and its barrenness and its reefs all round the place, that lighthouses of course have been the means of saving literally thousands of lives, apart from the ships and the costs of ships that they've been responsible for saving.

The Minister then unveiled the bronze plaque on the lighthouse and read the inscription:

Here the first permanent lighthouse in New Zealand shone its navigation light from 1 January 1859.

The final speaker was the Wellington Harbour Master, Captain Todd:

Despite all the improvements in navigational aids at sea, with the radar and the DF, I can assure you it's a feeling of relief when a master, despite the fact that he has fixed his position with these aids, when he sees the light he's been looking for, and he can identify it as one of New Zealand's lighthouses. It is a great relief to him and to all mariners.

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