Shipwreck memorial in need of TLC

By Vomie Springford -

A lone grave marking the lives of 12 seamen who died in the Zuleika shipwreck of 1897 needs some TLC, say two frequent Ngawi visitors.

Gerry Morris has been a regular visitor to the area for years but it was only this year he first went to the Zuleika memorial and learned about what had happened.

"It's a hell of a story," he said.

In a submission to the South Wairarapa District Council's draft annual plan, Mr Morris asked the council if it could enhance the site with signposts and information panels.

Over a century ago, the Zuleika was caught in a heavy gale and struck rocks near Cape Palliser, running aground in Palliser Bay.

The ship was on a voyage from Dunedin to Wellington.

Of the 21 men on board, eight including the captain survived and another eight are thought to have been buried at the grave site near the beach where they were washed ashore

Another was buried in Dunedin and the rest were not found.

Long-time bach owner Tony Craig showed Mr Morris the grave site, which had been maintained by Tony's father Peter Craig until he died.

"My father who was very community-minded, would take care of it, planting things, he was keen on making sure some of our history wasn't lost."

Mr Craig, who has been visiting at his family bach, built by his grandfather, said the site is not well signposted or well known.

He said making it more visible, even with just one sign, would add to the visitor experience of the coast, he said.

"I just think they (signs) make the coast experience, they help people better understand what's gone on here.

"It's a story worth telling, it's a part of the whole area."

South Wairarapa councillors agreed at a council meeting yesterday that preserving the historic memorial was important and would help maintain it.

"It looked very nice after Peter had done all the work," said councillor Brian Jephson.

Mr Morris said the Zuleika shipwreck also served as a warning.

"The Zuleika story is easy to comprehend when you drive on that road in a southerly and is a good safety message for anyone thinking of putting a boat in the water in anything but a flat sea."

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