"Turakina" 

New Zealand Bound

Better known in Timaru as the "City of Perth"

The Turakina was originally built for George Smith's famous City Line, in the Indian trade. She was a frozen meat carrier and was placed on the Calcutta route. She was formerly the City of Perth, and had been driven ashore at Timaru in 1882. The total cost of the disaster was nine lives. Five Timaru boat men perished, together with two of the City of Perth's crew. She was refloated and towed to Port Chalmers, where she was docked for repairs and subsequently purchased by the New Zealand Shipping Company in 1883, being docked and refitted with accommodation for 340 immigrants and renamed TURAKINA and made 15 round voyages to the UK for them. She made a reputation as a fast sailer, at one time overtaking the steamer Ruapehu when the latter was doing 14 knots. She became New Zealand Shipping Company's last sailing vessel when she was sold in 1899 to Alexander Bech, Tvedestrand, Norway and renamed the name of the Elida, reduced to barque rig. 1914 scrapped. White Wings. There is a beautiful De Maus photo of her at Port Chalmers.

The sky was cloudless, and there was not a breath of wind, but early in the day a tremendous sea got up.

Evening Post, 14 May 1937, Page 11 Wreck of the Ben Venue
Today is the anniversary of the wreck of the ship Ben Venue at Timaru on May 14, 1882. The Ben Venue was an iron full-rigged ship of 1000 tons, She lay in the Timaru roadstead with coal from Newcastle, and early on the morning of May 14 the conditions became exceedingly rough, and the ship was swept by several rollers breaking over the poop. About 9 a.m. the starboard cable parted, and with great difficulty a third anchor, attached to a steel cable, was dropped. At 1 p.m. the last cable parted, and as the vessel neared broken water she was abandoned by her crew who sought refuge aboard the ship City of Perth. With her head pointed towards the shore all the time, the backwash evidently keeping her from veering about, the Ben Venue slowly drifted ashore, striking under the high cliffs. The City of Perth was now also in distress, and the crews landed in small boats, one bearing the chief officer of the City of Perth, who was badly injured, and later died in hospital. The City of Perth drifted ashore beside the Ben Venue, maintaining an even keel. Tragedy intervened when several boats, overwhelmed by the heavy seas, capsized. It was found that Captain Mills, Timaru harbourmaster, the second mate and carpenter of the City of Perth, and five Timaru watermen, had been drowned. The Ben Venue became a total wreck, but the City of Perth, was refloated and renamed the Turakina.

Marlborough Express, 20 June 1891, Page 3
Wellington, June 20. Information was received by the 'Frisco mail of the death of Captain Power, of the ship Turakina in London on May 16th from influenza.

Timaru Herald, 3 January 1893, Page 2
The ship Turakina (better known here as the City of Perth) is expected daily to load frozen mutton for London.

The Turakina among the ice.

Timaru Herald, 7 July 1893, Page 4
The following extract from a letter has been handed to us by Mr F. LeCren, written by his son who was on board : — "We left Lyttelton February 9th, and had favourable wind. On March 2nd pasted the Diego Ramirez Islands, and had a good view of them. In the afternoon— 2l days from Lyttelton — rounded Cape Horn and saw it very distinctly, it being a nice clear day. It is nothing but a perpendicular cliff of rook, very jagged. On Thursday, March 9th, ice was reported by the man on the look out. It being a clear night and the moon just risen, the ice was seen a long way off. As we came nearer it made me open my eyes. It was a berg of tremendous size, and looked lovely with the moon shining on it. At 11 pm. all hands were called on deck, as the ice was getting very dose — nothing but a wall in front and pieces were breaking off the bergs, making a noise like thunder. We struck one piece and the vessel shook all over. All hands were busy hoisting and lowering sails. There was just a nice breeze at the time to let us dodge between and around the icebergs. About 12 pm, the ice not being so thick, some of the hands turned in, but at 1 a.m. all were called up again, because it was thought we would not get . through. The ice was so thick we could not see an opening. We went on cautiously, and by good luck we saw a narrow opening. We went through a very anxious half hour. One berg we passed less than three feet from the vessel's side. The water was covered with small floating pieces. At daylight it was not so thick. All hands had a fright that night, and no one expected the ship to got through. Next day still going through icebergs, but not so thick. At 6 p.m. we passed one of tremendous sue, over 500 feet high, that took the wind out of our sails, and nearly ran into us. All the boats were got ready and provisioned before night, because the ice got thicker. At 1 p.m. we had a very narrow escape, just cleared a big one. It meant destruction to all bands if f we had struck it. We got through after travelling 160 miles through icebergs. Some are of peculiar shapes. Some are square as if cut, and others jagged, and when the sun is shining they look like marble, a grand sight. But once you see and go through them you don't want to see any more. On the 25th March we were in company with seven vessels and two days after we spoke the Arabella from Timaru a second time. The captain came on board and had dinner and took some fresh meat away. On Good Friday we got into the tropics, crossed the equator on 17th April, and arrived at Liverpool 22nd May, after a passage of 101 days from Lyttelton to Liverpool.

Timaru Herald, 9 December 1895, Page 2
Arrived: December 7 — The ship Turakina, Captain Hamon, from Wellington, with part original cargo from London, arrived in the roadstead late on Saturday evening, in thick weather. As it is never attempted to tow ships in at night, the harbourmaster supposed that Captain Hamon would either stand off or anchor at the usual distance. The latter, however, stood in till pretty near the beach off the Atlas mill, and then anchored. Captain Clarkson went out with the tug, and boarded the ship, and remained aboard till morning, the tug also anchoring out, in case a change of wind, should make it desirable to shift the ship before it was light enough to tow in. The ship was brought in and swung to a buoy yesterday morning.

Timaru Herald, 14 January 1897, Page 2 Shipping. Port of Timaru.
Arrived. Jan. 13 Jan. 13— Turakina, ship, 1216 tons, arrived off the port yesterday morning from Wellington, and was towed in at noon. She is to take in frozen mutton at this port for Home, and will be berthed without delay.

Timaru Herald, 9 February 1897, Page 2
The schooner Croydon Lass, from Lyttelton, brought 66 casks of tallow for the Turakina, which she transhipped yesterday, and has some sheep dip to land here. The s.s. Herald arrived about 2.30 p.m. yesterday from the south, bringing some stores from Dunedin, 17 tons of transhipments ex Kaikoura, and 69 bales of wool from Oamaru for the Turakina.

Timaru Herald, 15 February 1897, Page 3
Magisterial. Timaru — Saturday, February 13th (Before C. A. Wray, Esq., S.M., and W. M. Howe, Esq., J.P.) Disorderly Conduct. Two seamen of the Turakina, named Rowan and Rennie, pleaded guilty to a charge of being drunk m George street on Friday, and m reply to a second charge of fighting, admitted that they had a "friendly tussle." Constable Rings, who arrested the men, stated that Rennie was the worst, be was the most drunk, was stripped to his singlet, and was using abominable language. A witness gave corroborative evidence. The chief offender pleaded for leniency if they were locked up they would lose the ship as she was going away in a day or two. — Fined 10s or 48 hours.

Timaru Herald, 16 February 1897, Page 4
Timaru — Monday, February 15th. (Before Messrs E. R. Guinness and A. Mills, J.Ps.) Drunkenness. Michael Fox was charged with drunkenness. He had been arrested on Saturday evening. Accused pleaded guilty, and was convicted and discharged. Assault. Morris Ashton, a fireman on board the ship Turakina, was charged with assault on the chief engineer of the ship, Richard Hunter. Air Raymond appeared for the prosecutor. Ashton pleaded not guilty to the charge, saying that the engineer had assaulted him first. The evidence of the engineer went to show that Ashton had disobeyed orders about banking up the fires on Sunday evening. He spoke to the fireman of his disobedience, and the latter then struck him, blackening both his eyes and there was a general tussle before the men were separated. The engineer had a hammer in his hand and the fireman tried to wrest this from him, but did not succeed. The captain of the ship said that when both men came aft Hunter had two black eyes and was covered with blood, and there were no marks on the fireman. Witness said that he must keep up discipline on the ship and could not go to sea with quarrelling among the crew, hence he had brought the matter before the Court. The accused in his defence rather vehemently denied that he had commenced the quarrel, and said that the engineer had struck him first. He called two seamen as witnesses, but they had not seen the assault commence, and therefore could not say who started the row. The Bench held that the charge had been proved and sentenced Ashton to one month's imprisonment, and ordered him to pay costs £2 9s. The Court then rose.

Timaru Herald, 9 November 1898, Page 3
The ship Turakina— the old City of Perth, too well known at Timaru— arrived at Port Chalmers on Sunday from London. She had a very rough passage. All went well till she was off the Cape of Good Hope, when she met a terrific gale from the N.R., with frightful seas, one of which broke on board and smashed the skylights, flooded the cabins, and carried away the poop rail on the starboard side. ...Heavy seas repeatedly broke on board. Captain Fox determined to heave the ship to the wind— a feat of great difficulty. This, however, was done and with the aid of a plentiful supply of oil, the effect of the seas was slightly moderated.

Timaru Herald, 25 November 1898, Page 3 Overloaded Ships
Nearly all the oversea ships outward bound to these colonies on arrival, says the Otago Daily Times, have had the same tale to tell for several months past of stormy passages and dreadful encounters with the elements while crossing the Indian Ocean. In not a few cases the vessels have suffered serious damage while being buffeted by the storms, and one sailing ship (the barque Lake Ontario), bound for Dunedin from Liverpool, had apparently gone to the bottom. The barque Ebba, from Hamburg, which was here in August, had a very stormy voyage, and on one occasion had most of her after deck houses and fittings washed overhoard. The ship Turakina, from London, now in port, also had a very stormy voyage, and was within an ace of being dismasted. She was so seriously disabled that she had to put into Algoa Bay for repairs, which cost about £2000, before she was in a fit condition to resume her voyage. The ship Soukar, from London, was dismasted in a storm, and had to put in at Mauritius for repairs. The fact that she lost six of her crew overboard, while her captain had both legs broken, is additional proof of the danger the vessel passed through. That she did not founder seems little short of a miracle. The experience of New Zealand-bound vessels has also fallen to the lot of at least two out of every three sailing ships that have recently arrived in Australian ports. Never before, perhaps, has such a tale of storm succeeding storm, and disablement of vessels been told in the history of the ocean trade between the Home country and these colonies. It is worthy of note that some of the vessels that suffered most were deeply laden, and the missing barque Lake Ontario carried a large amount of dead weight. In the light of recent experience the time has certainly arrived when the strongest possible representations should be made to the Board of Trade to have the  load line altered on vessels that have to face winter conditions while engaged in the Home colonial trade. . . Even ship-owners must now recognise that the privilege of carrying a larger cargo than is consistent with safety, is dearly bought in such cases as the Turakina and Soukar. The expenses involved in the delay alone must be a serious item, and considerably discount any profit that might have resulted from the extra cargo carried. Another foot of freeboard in either of the vessel named would have insured them efficient buoyancy to have given a better account of themselves in doing battle with the elements. Even when hove-to, head to the sea, the mountainous waves constantly breaking on board the Turakina swept the forcastle head of pretty well everything, including iron rails and stanchions. Such an experience proves that the vessel was loaded below the line of safe navigation. The old wooden ships of an earlier date used to ride out any storm that blew when once brought head to the wind ; and there is surely something wrong when the superior ships of a new order of naval architecture prove little better than floating coffins.

Timaru Herald, 7 December 1898, Page 2
Mr Cotterill, local agent for the New Zealand Shipping Company, on Monday evening received a telegram instructing him that the ship Turakina is to be sent to Napier, her place here being taken by the barque Andes. The rearrangement, it is supposed, will be more suitable for both ports, a smaller vessel filling here more quickly, while the larger one will soon be filled at Napier. The Turakina had put out about 150 tons of broken atone ballast, and has to replace this with as much shingle. A start was made, to truck this round to her yesterday. She had all her sails unbent, in readiness for a couple of months rest here. She will get away some day this week, and the Andes may be expected hourly.

Ship Etiquette

Timaru Herald, 2 December 1898, Page 2
Arrived Dec. 1 Turakina, ship, 1189 tons, from London via Port Chalmers.
The ship Turakina arrived off the port yesterday afternoon, and was towed in to a berth at the buoys by the Timaru. She is in ballast and will most likely come to the main wharf this morning. Her ballast is road metal and has been purchased by the Timaru Borough Council. We may add that as the Turakina came into part Captain Bowling of the ship Invercargill dipped his ensign, but so far at we could see this civility was act responded to by the Turakina.

Timaru Herald, 3 December 1898, Page 3
To the Editor of the Timaru Herald — Your shipping notes of today, in reporting upon the arrival of the Turakina, make reference to the fact that the Turakina's captain did not return the courteous action of Captain Bowling of the Invercargill, in "dipping the ensign." I may say that your Wide awake reporter was not the only one who observed this matter. Many of the public who witnessed the arrival of the Turakina freely commented upon the apparent neglect of exchange of courtesy. Are the days of ship etiquette past ? I am, etc., HILL TOP. Timaru, 2nd Dec, 1898.

Timaru Herald, 8 December 1898, Page 3 The Turankina.
To the Editor of the Timaru Herald Sir,— Your shipping notes of the 2nd inst., commenting on the arrival of the New Zealand Shipping Company's Turakina, charged her with incivility in not returning the greeting of Captain Bowling of the Invercargill. Your remarks were backed up by a letter in the same strain from one "Hill Top." From the lofty stand "Hill Top " evidently took up, "it" might have gathered (before writing such incivilities about a visitor) that Captain Fox, of the Turakina — the veteran commander of the New Zealand Shipping Company - was paying his first visit to Timaru, and what between keeping his eye on the pilot, also on the man at the wheel, besides winking the other one at the shingle bench at the end of the main wharf, his attention was so occupied that he did not perceive Captain Bowling's dip. However, Captains Bowling and Fox have been friends for 30 years, and the incident, I am sure, is not looked upon as one of incivility by Captain Bowling, and in justice to the courteous gentleman and commander of the Turakina, I trust that " Hill top," recognising the facts, will come back all he said. I am, etc., Second Thoughts are often Wisest. Timaru, December 7th, 1898.

Timaru Herald, 9 December 1898, Page 2
The Turakina was bending sails yesterday.

Timaru Herald, 10 December 1898, Page 2
Sailed. Dec. 9— Turakina, ship, 1189 tons, Fox for Napier. The ship Turakina was towed out yesterday morning for Napier, where she loads wool for London. The barque Andes, from New London South Africa, which arrived in the roadstead on Thursday night after reporting at Port Chalmers, was towed in to berth at the buoys yesterday morning. She is in ballast, and loads wool here for London.

The Battle of the Breeze
Evening Post, 11 May 1935, Page 30

The old Turakina, one of the most famous of the sailing ships with the history of the Dominion, will be recalled on Monday the fifty-third anniversary of her near loss at Timaru. This fine old flier lived to make one of the last and most splendid gestures of sail against steam, when she overhauled and passed the speeding mail steamer Ruapehu. Her fate, is shrouded in mystery, but as she was still afloat under the Norwegian colours as the Elida as late as it is almost certain that a mine or torpedo accomplished what was too much for, the gales and lee shores of half a century of voyaging. On May 13, 1882, the old ship, under her first name City of Perth, lay at anchor in the Timaru roadstead, in company with the almost equally well, known Benvenue. At 1 a.m. a tremendous, gale burst upon the exposed anchorage, and brought with it a high rolling surf. All the ships could do was to hold on, with cables full out, and green water washing them from stem to stern. The Benvenue went shortly after daybreak, her captain and crew making an almost miraculous escape by boat through the boiling surf to the City of Perth. Borne up by the waves, the Benvenue was dashed broadside on to the shore of Caroline Bay, a total wreck. With every cable parted, the City of Perth started the same journey but her sheet-anchor, bent to her best hawser, held her for a while. As the 'two ships' crews left the vessel's side in a successful attempt to reach the breakwater, a volunteer boat's crew under Philip Bradley put out to the rescue. He was not needed. Soon after the wind dropped, but the sea remained high. Three boats, one commanded by Captain Mills and one by Captain McDonald, of the Benvenue, made the perilous passage, but no sooner had they reached her side than the City of Perth's hawser parted and ship drove stem-first on to the beach. 

After an attempt at salvage had been made the wreck the undamaged cargo was removed and the hull sold for £900. A second attempt resulted in her being towed and taken, to Port Chalmers, where an inspection showed that the rudder and twenty feet of keel were missing land five-bottom plates were damaged. She was sold again for £500. On April 13 of the following year - she was ready for sea, and later she ran home from Invercargill with wool in 86 days. After a thorough overhaul, she came back to Auckland on January 17th 1884, as the Turakina flying the New Zealand Shipping Company's flag. The passage occupied 85 days. Over the next ten voyages, she averaged 80 days from the, Channel. In all she made two passages to Auckland, seven to Wellington, and five to Port Chalmers as a Shipping, Company vessel. Two of her Wellington passages also occupied 85 days, port-to port, and to Port Chalmers she twice made the run in 83 days. Although never breaking 80 days for the port, to port trip, she made one land-to-land passage of 72 days. On the homeward run, she made a trip from Gisborne to London in 78 days, from Wellington to London in 71 days, from Wellington to the Lizard in 69 days, and from Port Chalmers to the Isle of Wight-in 73 days.

Sail defeats Steam
Evening Post, 11 May 1935, Page 30

At 9 am on January 14,1895, when the fast mail, steamer Ruapehu was running before a strong northerly assisted by topsails and courses, the incredible sight was seen, the topgallant sails of a ship rising out of the horizon astern. Despite the fact that the steamer increased speed to over 14 knots, the Turakina was up with her before noon. Carrying nearly all Square sail, she swept by close on the Ruapehu's, lee side. Afterwards, she shortened sail, and remained close to the steamer until the following morning. Though the steamer made 315 miles that day, the ship kept ahead; and by daylight next morning had disappeared over the horizon before the Ruapehu's bow. For fourteen days she kept ahead, averaging twelve knots over the 5000 miles between the Cape and Leeuwin meridians. She completed the run to Port Chalmers, pilot to pilot, in 70 days, her best day's runs being 328, 316, and 308 miles. Her many speedy runs and adventures in the heyday of her career would take a book to describe in detail. In 1885 she received a terrific mauling after she had rounded the Horn on a voyage Home. Using her splendid speed as her best weapon, she ran it out three years later, her chief officer and a seaman were lost overboard in heavy, weather. In 1890 she was forced to run for shelter twice, the only times in her glorious career. On the voyage out, she put into Portland. Off the Cape, huge breakers swept her decks, tearing away everything movable. Hove to, she rode it out in deep water, but was forced into Algoa Bay for repairs. Built by Connell in 1868, the little iron clipper, of only 1247 tons. gross, had withstood without serious harm so many hammerings that the faith of the Lloyd's underwriters who declared her everlasting was amply justified. After this last fight, she was sold by the New Zealand Shipping Company to Norwegian buyers. As the Elida under the management of A. Bech, of Tordesstrand, she kept the sea for eighteen more years. In 1912 she lay for a time in Rio de Janiero beside a fit companion, on whose bow was inscribed Ferreira. This was the gallant "Cutty Sark", once one of the proudest ships afloat. Four years later the old New Zealand flyer vanished amid the smoke in a world conflict.

Otago Witness 7 February 1895, Page 36
The New Zealand Company's fine ship Turakina, which arrived off the heads from Hamburg on Sunday morning, and anchored, waiting for orders, received instructions yesterday forenoon that the was to load at this port, and the tug Plucky proceeded down, towing her up to the Bowen pier at 4.30 p.m. The Turakina is under the command of Captain J. J. Hamon. The Turakina comes into port in most beautiful order, reflecting great credit upon the commander, who is also to be congratulated on the excellent passage he has made, only 72 days being occupied from land to land and 84 days from port to port. Captain Hamon has called our attention to a paragraph which appeared on the 1st inst. stating that the R.M.S Ruapehu reported passing, on January 14, the ship Turakiua 56 days out, bound for Wellington, Captain Hamon's version being that at noon on that day he sighted the Ruapehu, and after signalling " all well," there being a strong breeze, he passed the steamer, and 10 hours afterwards again sighted the Ruapehu on the lee bow. The Turakina's best days' runs were 312, 310, and 302 miles.

Evening Post, 25 November 1895, Page 2
Turakina from London
Maintaining her reputation as a fast sailer the N.Z.S. Co.'s ship Turakina, from London, was towed in by the Duco at 11.30 pm yesterday, after a very good passage of 85 days. She left London on the 31st August, and experienced light and variable winds to the Equator, which was crossed on 5th October. Passed the Cape of Good Hope on the 26th, Cape Leuwin on 11th November, and was off Tasmania on the 16th. Felt in with a heavy N.W. gale and cross sea on 5th November, daring which one huge sea shipped carried away the starboard rails on the poop. The best runs made by the vessel per day were 328, 316, bad 303 miles. After discharging 40 tons of gunpowder she will be berthed at the Queen's Wharf. Her cargo consists of 600 tons for Wellington and 300 tons for Timaru, where she will probably load for London. Captain Hamon is still in command, and has associated with him the following officers — Chief, W. E. Baker; second, L. C. Cockrell; third, A. Hoskyn ; first engineer, R. Hunter: second, W. Sneddon; steward, C.H. Woodward.


The Elida in Tonsberg, Norway ex the City of Perth, ex The Turakina. Source: State Library of Victoria.

Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping

TURAKINA - 1883-1884, ex. CITY OF PERTH
Code letters: WQHM Official Number: 60352
Master: Captain R. Power
Rigging: iron ship; three masted full rigged ship; 1 deck; 2 tiers of beams; 2 cemented bulkheads
Tonnage; 1,247 tons gross, 1,160 under deck and 1,189 net
Dimensions: 232.5 feet long, 35.4 foot beam and holds 22.2 feet deep;
Raised Quarter Deck 32 feet
Construction: 1868, Charles Connell & Co. in Glasgow; repairs to damages in 1883
Owners: New Zealand Shipping Co.
Port of registry: Lyttelton

"Turakina"  means “knock down.”

Third of the name

Evening Post, 23 August 1940, Page 8
The first one was formerly the ship City of Perth, which was driven ashore at Timaru in 1882 by a heavy sea, along with the ship Benvenue. The second ship of the name was built in 1902 for the carriage of both passengers and cargo. In 1908 a fire broke out in her cargo while she was in Wellington, but it was extinguished with the aid of the tug Terawhiti. She met her end on August 13, 1917, when she was torpedoed off Bishop Rock, shortly after she had disembarked a section of the 25th Reinforcements of the First New Zealand Expeditionary Force at Plymouth. The Turakina is a geared turbine steamer of 8706 tons, built in 1923 for the New Zealand Shipping Company. With a speed of 14 knots, she has a length of 460.5 feet, a breadth of 62.7 feet, and a depth of 35.2 feet. For 17 years she has been engaged in the refrigerated cargo trade between New Zealand and United Kingdom ports. Captain J. Laird is in command. She is the third ship to bear the name. 

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project