NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES
Mokohinau Islands (1883)
Photos courtesy of MSA.
Photo by Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images. (Date unknown)
Google has a satellite view
Situated on Burgess Island, the middle of three in the Mokohinau Island group, the lighthouse was first planned in 1873 3 4 or 1876. 18
In 1874, Nautical Advisor, Captain Johnson, surveyed the North Island for possible lighthouse sites aboard the government ship Luna. Captain Johnson recommended Mokohinau as a "capital sight". 4
In 1876 the lens and light were ordered from England and brought to New Zealand. 1 13
However the light was not lit until 18 June 1883. 1
The delay was due to debate over the placement of the light. Some shippers wanted the light situated on the Hen and Chicken Islands while others argued for Beam Head at the Whangarei Harbour entrance. 3
Mr. David Scott boarded the cutter Hawk, and landed at Burgess Island in 1882. There he proceeded to supervise the erection of the tower and buildings. Orginally local stone was to be quarried on the island, but the stone on the island was found to be unsuitable. A contract was then let to J. Bourke and Company, Union Street, Auckland to supply and cut blue stone blocks for the tower. 2 3
The stone blocks were fitted together in Auckland then dismantled and barged to the islands. 2 3
Other references found while researching indicate that the tower is made from concrete. 4
The light was a first order dioptric light, as it is the landfall light for ships coming in from the Pacific north west. 3
Life on the island was hard in the early days with stores and mail arriving only three times a year and they were often delayed. 1
On June 6, 1898, keeper W. A. Cheele, set sail a small tin boat he had made. He placed three letters inside, one to the Marine Department, one to the nearest general store and one to a friend. The small boast drifted 78 miles to the mainland coming ashore at Tako Bay, just to the north of the Bay of Islands, August 23, 1898. Here it was found by some Maori boys who sold it to Captain W. Farquhar master of the steamer Clansman. With the letters was a note stating, "Mokohinau Lighthouse, June 6, 1898. To the finder of this noble ship that I have set adrift on the sea - I would kindly ask that you would favour us by posting the enclosed letters and greatly oblige - Yours in hope of this arriving, at some early date, W. A. Cheele, for the light-keeper of the Mokohinau, Auckland." Captain Farquhar delivered the mail to the Auckland chief postmaster Mr Biss. It was reported that Government supply ship Hinimoa was dispatched to the island with stores shortly afterwards. b
Maritime New Zealand reports this happened in 1908. The tin boat is on display at the Auckland Museum. 1
The light was originally powered by oil, but was converted to diesel-generated electricity in 1939. 1
During the 2nd World War the light was extinguished on 23 December, 1940, due to a German destroyer perhaps using the light as a reference to lay mines. The steamer Niagara was sunk when she hit one of these mines on June 19, 1940. The light was not re lit again until 4 September, 1947. 2 During the war years the island population increased as coast watchers were dispatched to aid the war effort. 16
The station was one of the last to be automated with the last keepers being withdrawn in 1980. 1
In 1996 the original light and associated equipment was removed and replaced by a rotating beacon fitted with a 35 watt tungsten halogen bulb. This was installed within the original tower. The new light is powered from battery banks charged by solar panels. 1
Mokohinau Islands Lighthouse, on Burgess Island, is accessible to the public, by personal boat or charter. There is no public access to enter the lighthouse.
The Mokohinau Islands are now part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park and are administered by the Department of Conservation. Burgess Island is the only one of the Mokohinau Islands allowing public access. The other islands are nature reserves and protected wildlife sanctuaries, and landing is only permitted with a permit.
DOC has a map
a. Land Information New Zealand.
b. Otago Witness, September 29, 1898.
e. Olwyn Bourne (Archways), (Feb 2013).
g. Jocelyn Groom (July 2011)
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2011 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.
If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. email@example.com
Last Updated: January 2nd, 2010