Kiwiosities: The Dundonald Coracle

A framework of Koromiko tied together with rope and wire, now in Canterbury Museum, recalls the way that shipwrecked sailors paddled to the main (sub-antarctic) Auckland Island to await rescue in 1907. The four-masted barque, The Dundonald  struck Disappointment Island on March 7, 1907 and  the survivors struggled ashore from her top masts.

After seven and a half months living off birds and seals, the castaways built three coracle frameworks and covered them with canvas. In these primitive craft, 15 men managed to transfer themselves from Disappointment Island to Auckland Island. There they found a provision store for shipwrecked mariners. The men were found eight months after shipwreck by the government steamer Hinemoa, which called at the southern islands from time to time.

 

Excerpts from Kiwiosities, a book by Gordon Ell on the traditions and folklore of New Zealand.

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Gordon Ell, a former journalist and wildlife film-maker, is the author of many popular books about New Zealand's historic and natural heritage.