For many New Zealanders, the story of the SS Ventnor was unknown until its discovery off the coast of Hikianga two years ago. Following this event, details have surfaced surrounding the shipwreck that place it as a significant historical event. The Institute will be doing further research into this event and including it in the next Nation Dates edition. Our draft text follows:

1902 Wreck of the SS Ventnor

On 27 October, a day after leaving Wellington, the Ventnor struck a reef off the coast of Taranaki near New Plymouth, and the following day it foundered off the coast of the Hokianga Heads. The ship had set out for China with the bones of 499 Chinese men who had died in New Zealand, and the wreck caused distress as culturally it is essential for Chinese people to have their graves tended by their family. The local iwi Te Roroa have confirmed that their ancestors buried the bodies that washed ashore.

To find out more:

Dougan, P. (2014, November 14). Outrage over ‘lack of respect’ shown to Ventnor shipwreck. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from:

Dougan, P. (2014, November 19). 112-year-old SS Ventnor shipwreck mystery revealed. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from:

Ventnor Group. The Wreck of the SS Ventnor: History. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from: