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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

The light was 1st lit on June 18, 1883. 1 , the first Principal Keeper to take charge was Mr. Robert Wilson; and the Assistant Keeper was Mr. A. F. S. Sandager106

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

DIRECTIONS:

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 

 

Island North
Province Auckland
Location North of Hauraki Gulf
Number K3734
Date Commissioned June 18, 1883  1
Date Decommissioned
Automated 1980  1
Latitude 35 54' South  1
Longitude 175 07' East  1
Elevation Above Sea Level 122m  1 19   52m  1   400'  4    385'   3  106
Height 14m 1  13m 19   46' 4
Character White light flashes once every 10 seconds  1
Range 25 N. miles (46km)  1 19     26 N. miles  3  4  106    
Made Stone quarried and shipped to island 
Construction Blue stone tower painted white  1 19
Converted Kerosene To Diesel 1939  1  4  19
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity
Wattage 1000 w  4     
Present Tower Original
Authority Owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand
Date Visited
 

 

Present Light (Installed 1996)  
Character  
Range 19 N. miles (35 km)   1
Wattage 35w  1

 

Principal Keeper From To
  1st lit June 18, 1883  1   
Robert Wilson  2  200  106  18 June 1883  2     c 1884  200
     
John Wheeler  22 February 29, 1888 c  June, 1890  22
     
James William Nicholson  22 c  early 1890's  22  
     
Alexander Connell  4  212   1898  212
David Partington  22 1898  22  212 October 29, 1901  22 
     
     
W. A. Cheele  105 c 1898  
     
Robert Cathcart  22 c October, 1901   22  
Donald McNeil  22 June 16, 1905  22  May 1, 1909  22 
Norman Miller  189 January 22, 1947  189 January 18, 1950  189
     
Jim Smith  4   February, 1958  4
Dudley Neilson  4 February, 1958  4                                             (Promoted from 1st AK)  4  
     
Robert Wallace  198 October, 1968  198 October, 1972  198
     
  Keepers Withdrawn 1980  1

 

Assistant Keeper (1st) From To
  1st lit, June 18, 1883  1   
Andreas Fremming Stewart Sandager  80  106 May 1883  80    Feb 1889  80
     
 
John Jess  22    (Probationary)  22  August 29, 1886  22 February 28, 1887  22
John Jess  22  March 1, 1887  22 August 4, 1890  22
Thomas Joseph Cox  22 August 4, 1890  22 September, 1894  22
Henry Thompson  22 c  March, 1892  22  
     
Rudolph Prohl      (c  1894)  252  
     
Charles Moeller  22 c  1897  22 November 15, 1900  22
     
James Lyon  22    (Probationary)  22  1903  22 April 29, 1904  22
James Lyon  22 April 30, 1904  22  
     
Thomas Bankes Smith  22    (Probationary)  22  March, 1907  22 September 14, 1907  22
Thomas Bankes Smith  22  September 14, 1907  22 c  October, 1907  22
     
     
     
James Andrew McDonald  22    (Probationary)  22  June 18, 1909  22 December 17, 1909  22
James Andrew McDonald  22  December 18, 1909  22 September 29, 1910  22
     
Mr. Gow  2 c 1916  
     
Bob Naulls  16 1938  
     
Dudley Neilson  4   February, 1958  4   (Promoted to PK)  4
Ray Mander  4 February, 1958  4                                             (Promoted from 2nd AK)  4  
     
  Keepers Withdrawn 1980  1

 

Assistant Keeper (2nd) From To
  1st lit, June 18, 1883  1   
Robert Callin  2  22  (Probationary)  22    November 30, 1883  22
Robert Callin  22 December 1, 1883  22 November 27, 1884  22  (Resigned due to insanity)  2
     
     
Ray Mander  4   February, 1958  4   (Promoted to 1st AK)  4
Peter Taylor  4 February, 1958  4  2 1961
     

 

 

Sources

Additional Sources:

22. Akaroa Museum

60. Grey River Argus, Volume XVI, Issue 2177, 31 July 1875, Page 2

80http://www.angelfire.com/ga3/gretasplace/Resources/Lighthouse/Stopforth.html

104. Land Information New Zealand.

105Otago Witness, September 29, 1898.

106Evening 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

 

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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: January 2nd, 2010