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
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 July of 1875, it is reported by the Commissioner Of Customs, Mr. Reynolds to Parliament that the lighthouse equipment had been ordered some months ago. 60 117 The equipment was ordered from England with the machinery being supplied by James Milne & Sons, the optical lens from Barbier & Fenestre and the lantern from James Dove and Co. All of this equipment was shipped aboard the Inverallen in April, 1876. 106
However the light was not lit until June 18, 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 But is was decided in 1881 that the light should be placed on Burgess Island in the Mokohinau Island group. 106
Mr. David Scott boarded the cutter Hawk, and landed at Burgess Island in March 106 , 1882. There he proceeded to supervise the erection of the tower and buildings. Originally 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 John Bourke and Company, Union Street, Auckland to supply and cut blue stone blocks for the tower. 2 3 106 The stone blocks were fitted together in Auckland then dismantled and barged to the islands. 2 3 106 Other references indicate that the tower is made from concrete. 4
A tramway was built to haul the building supplies from the landing site to the lighthouse site. 106
The iron stairway, railings, as well as other iron work was supplied by Mr. J. T. Crabtree, St Hill Street, Wellington. 106
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. 105 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
22. Akaroa Museum
60. Grey River Argus, Volume XVI, Issue 2177, 31 July 1875, Page 2
104. Land Information New Zealand.
105. Otago Witness, September 29, 1898.
106. Evening Post, Volume CXII, Issue 118, 14 November 1931, Page 23
189. Norman Miller (Jocelyn Groom, July 23, 2011)
198. Robert Wallace (Tim Wallace, July 7, 2013)
200. Robert Wilson (Olwyn Bourne, Feb 8, 2013)
212. Press, Volume LV, Issue 10068, 21 June 1898, Page 6
252. Press, Volume LI, Issue 8960, 26 November 1894, Page 10
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2013 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.
If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: January 2nd, 2010