Radio broadcast from scene of Wahine disaster

Hear a radio broadcast from the day of the disaster.


Two hundred yards off shore the inter-island ferry Wahine is drifting helplessly backwards up the harbour. Most of the time it is obscured by driving rain and sleet and spray, whipped up off the sea. A few moments ago it was visible, clearly visible from the shore, and it appeared to be moving slowly backwards towards the rocks, a few hundred yards from the shore.

The wind is reported to be blowing nearly a hundred miles an hour through the channel at the entrance to the harbour, whipping up a heavy spray and driving sleet in towards the shore. At times it is almost turning the car over, and behind me at Fort Dorset several roofs have come off, and corrugated iron and bits of tile are continually banging against the back of the car.

It's now half past one, and Wahine has swung round broadside to the wind. It's got a list of about 30 degrees, which appears to increase as time passes. The Wahine is rolling frightfully in the heavy swell in the harbour. Its list increases and then it goes back, but it never reaches perpendicular again.

The Wahine, in fact, apparently seems to be sinking now. It's going down sideways, getting deeper and deeper into the water all the time. The waves are lapping over the deck. She's lying to starboard, half under the water.

There's only been two reports, and someone has just pointed out that a lifeboat is coming in, or a boat carrying people of some description is coming from the vicinity of the Wahine. Craft of every description are heading out and have been heading out for the past quarter hour from Worser Bay. There have been surf life-saving boats from the surf club along here, dinghies, launches, motor boats. A whole truckload of inflatable life-rafts came through 10 minutes ago. They've all gone out to help. The sea is fortunately very calm. The Aramoana is still standing to. It's been moving slowly up and slowly back as the situation demands, waiting to help and pick up any – any persons rescued from Wahine. We don't know of any loss of life as of this moment.

This end of Worser Bay, over the last three-quarters of an hour, perhaps 40 people have come ashore, almost all of them in their life jackets. Most of them are on the pilot launch [Tiakina], which came in and then had to go out again and come back in before it could berth properly at the little jetty here in Worser Bay. As soon as they stepped ashore, all of them were carried to waiting ambulances and waiting Wellington buses, Wellington City Transport buses. That's the first one pulling away. There are 30 people on that, and most of them are suffering from pretty severe exposure. Evidently it's freezing cold out in the middle of the harbour. There's a wind blowing that you can't feel here on shore, and most of the people – most of the people that were landed so far have been middle-aged or elderly people.

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