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RUAPUKE ISLAND Shipping Disasters Before 1900

RUAPUKE ISLAND: Low lying island, 13km by 6km, 1600ha in area, in the eastern approaches to Foveaux Strait, 20km south-east from Bluff, 30km north-east from Stewart Island, Southland District. The Island is privately owned, and most of the area, apart from a few strands of bush, is now either scrub or open land used for sheep grazing.

In the early 1800’s Ruapuke Island was a stronghold for the Ngai Tahu paramount chief Tuhawaiki (“Bloody Jack”), and supported the largest Maori population in southern New Zealand. In May 1844 the German Lutheran Missionary, the Ravd Johan Freidrich Heinrich Wohlers, arrived at Ruapuke and established a mission station from which he worked among the Southland Maoris in a depressed and squalid state but gradually encouraged them to grow crops and keep sheep and cattle which he introduced there. In time, as more food was being produced than was needed on the island, a considerable trade was built up with the mainland

The island was named Bench Island by Captain James Cook on 6 March 1770, but has retained its Maori name meaning “Two Hills” given, it is said because of the two rises, North Head (63m), and West Point (64m).

The “MARY BRILLARD” 1873, Cutter.

The “PILOT” 1874, Cutter.

The “JANE” 1884, Cutter.

The “ROSANNAH” 1887, Cutter.

The “ANNIE” and The “ALARM” 1894, Both Cutters.

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