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Matiu-Somes Island (1866)

 

  

Photo (2008)

 

Current tower 1910's. 13 

Lighthouse on Somes Island, Wellington

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mätauraga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Original tower 1886. 13 

Lighthouse on Somes Island, Wellington.

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mätauraga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

 

Google has a satellite view.

 

Matiu Island in Wellington Harbour was probably named by the Maori explorer Kupe. 13 

European settlers renamed the island Somes after Joseph Somes of The New Zealand Company. 13  The island was used for both humans and animals as a quarantine station from the 1870's. Later during World War 1 & 2 it was used as an internment camp for Germans, Italians and Japanese, . 17

Nearby Mokopuna Island (Leper Island) was used as a quarantine area for Kim Lee who was suspected of having leprosy in 1905. The keeper sent food across to the island via a flying fox. Kim Lee died alone several months later and his leprosy was never confirmed. 17

After Pencarrow lighthouse was constructed in 1859, it became necessary to add another lighthouse within Wellington harbour and Somes Island was chosen. 13

The lighthouse was first lit on 17 February, 1866. 13  It was similar to Pencarrow, a octagonal cast iron tower, standing 14 feet tall.  The tower and lantern were imported from Britain. At the time it was one of only eight lighthouses around the country and was the first inner harbour light. The light was a fixed white beam that shone down the harbour channel with green or red light to either side. Colza (rapeseed) oil was used until about 1878, then paraffin oil (kerosene) was used. 13

By 1895 it was found that a more powerful light was needed. This would require a new tower and lighting equipment. The new and present tower, entering service on 21 February, 1900, is round and constructed of brick. 13 

The old tower was moved to Tuhawaiki (Jacks) Point1

The light station was a two keeper station until 1924 when the keepers were withdrawn and the light automated. The keepers lived with their families in a six room cottage next to the lighthouse. The cottage and out buildings have since been torn down. Supplies were landed in the bay and hauled up a tramway to the light. An incandescent burner, which vaporized oil under pressure was installed during the 1910's. In 1924 the light was converted to use acetone acetylene as a fuel and was automated. The light was converted to electricity after Word War Two. 13 

The Wellington Provincial Government was responsible for the lighthouse until 1874 when The Marine Department took control. In 1923 the responsibility was transferred to the Wellington Harbour Board. The light which is still operational is now run by the Wellington Regional Council. 13

The island is now operated by the Department of Conservation as a nature reserve and many animals have been introduced.

 

DIRECTIONS:

The light is viewable from Wellington Harbour. The island is a nature reserve and a harbour ferry visits daily. 

http://eastbywest.co.nz/

 

 

Island North
Province Wellington
Location Wellington Harbour
Number K4014 19
Date Commissioned February 17, 1866  13
Date Decommissioned
Automated 1924  13
Latitude 41° 15.7' South 19
Longitude 174° 51.8' East 19
Elevation Above Sea Level 29m 19
Height 9m 1      5m (approx) 19
Character
Range  20 m (white) 17 m (green) 16 m (red) 19               16 miles 13 
Made
Construction
Converted Kerosene To Diesel
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity
Wattage
Present Tower Not original
Authority
Date Visited
 

 

Principal Keeper From To

 

  1st lit, February 17, 1866  13  
William Lyall  13 1866  13 October 11, 1871  13                                  (Died October 11, 1871)  203
Robert Buckridge 13                                                   (Step son of William Lyall)  203 October, 1871 13  203 September 10, 1874 13                              (Died September 10, 1874)  203
William Ashison  13   22                      (Promoted from Assistant Keeper)  13   22   October 1, 1874  13  22 June 2, 1882  13  22
Alexander Connell  13 1883  13 1885 13
William Ashison  13  22 November 1, 1885  13  22 August 15, 1910  13  22     (Retired)  22
William John Arnold  13 1910  13  
     
    Automated, 1924  13

 

Assistant Keeper (1st) From To

 

1st lit, February 17, 1866  13
Daniel Susan/Sutan  22 January 1, 1866  22
Robert Buckridge  13                                                              (Step son of William Lyall)  203 October, 1871 13  203
William Ashison  13  22 August 1, 1871  13  22 September 30, 1874  13  22                    (Promoted to Principal Keeper)  13  22  
George Long  13 1874  13 1877  13
Alexander J McGowan  13 1877  13 1877  13
Edward R Wilson  13  199 August 1877  13  199 July 1878  13  199
John Marsh  13 1878  13 1883  13
David Partington  22   (Probationary Keeper)  22 October 26, 1882  22  November 3, 1882  22 
Daniel Scollay  13 1883  13 1884  13
Charles Davis  13 1884  13 1886  13
Duncan Dawson  13 1886  13 1888  13
Richard Runge  13 1888  13 1889  13
William Cheel  13 1889  13 1890  13
George Charles McCartney  13  22                     (Probationary Keeper)  22 May 9, 1890  22 November 30, 1890  22
George Charles McCartney  13   22 December 1, 1890  22 1891  13
James Anderson  13   22 1891  13 1891  13
John McKinna  13 1891  13 1891  13
Jerome Sinclair  13   22 1891  13 May 11, 1892 13  22
Arthur Fletcher  13 1892  13 1897  13
William Ross  13 1897  13 1900  13
Edward Morris Parks  22 13 1901  13 1905  13  245
George James Simpson  13  22   (Probationary)  22 August 13, 1904  22         1905  13 February 13, 1905  22
George James Simpson  13  22 February 13, 1905  22 1906  13
Alfred George Whymark  13  22 June, 1906  13  22 March 13, 1908  13  22  (Resigned)  22
Robert S Jones  13 1908  13 1910  13
Percy Maltus  13 1910  13
Automated, 1924  13

 

Sources

Additional Sources:

199Edward Wilson (Lynda Webster, March 9, 2012)

203. William Lyall (Linnette Horne, December 31, 2009)

245New Zealand Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 12544, 11 April 1904, Page 5

 

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Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2013 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.

If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. thekiwimark@msn.com

Last Updated: April 13th, 2013.