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Stewart Island The most southerly of the three main Islands of New Zealand. It is situated about 30km offshore from the south coast of the South Island separated from it by Foveaux Strait.

Roughly triangular in shape, with its longest side facing west, the island has an area of, and an irregular coastline indented with many bays and several sizeable harbours. The largest indentation, Patterson Inlet, penetrates the north-eastern coastline, the other major inlets are Port Adventure at the eastern corner of the island, and Port Pegasus on the south-eastern coast.

Stewart Island was sighted in March 1770 by Captain James Cook during his circumnavigation of the South Island, but was uncertain as to weather it was an island or not. He sailed around its eastern, southern and western coasts and finally deciding that it was part of the South Island mainland, tentatively penned the land mass on his map as a peninsula and named it South Cape.

In 1809 an outline chart of the whole island, and a detailed chart of Port Pegasus, was made by William Stewart, first officer of the ship Pegasus (his map was presented to NZ by the Government of New South Wales in 1937, and is held at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington), who then went on to complete the Admiralty chart of the Chatham Islands (q.v.) left unfinished since 1791. In 1826 Stewart established a timber, flax and trading settlement on the island at Port Pegasus and brought in a party of sawyers who built the schooner Joseph Weller, the first ship known to have been built at the island.

In June 1840, HMS Herald called at Stewart Island, and Major Thomas Bunbury, acting on behalf of Leiutenant-Govenor William Hobson, took formal possession of the island in the name of Queen Victoria, by right of Captain Cook’c discovery 70 years previously. The island was eventually purchased from the Southland Maoris by NZ Government on 29 June 1864 for the sum of 6000 pounds.

According to Maori folklore, the island is the anchor stone of the canoe of the mythological hero Maui, and is therefore known as Te Puka-o-te-waka-a-Maui, it is also known as Rakiura. The present name, Stewart Island, honours Captain William Stewart (c,1766-1851).

There were only six shipwrecks at Stewart Island before the year 1900, this is what I have on them so far

The “INDUSTRY” 1831, brig.

The “WORKINGTON” 1857, brig.

The “PACIFIC” 1864, brig.

The “CALYPSO” 1866, brig.

The “EMILLE” 1890, Barque.

The “ECLIPSE” 1894, Barque.

Bluff Disasters Page.

Foveaux Strait Disasters Page.

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