Robina Dunlop Shipwreck

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Figurehead of the Robina Dunlop
Devonport Naval Base, Auckland, in 1935

The 493 ton barque Robina Dunlop was built in 1874 at Sunderland. She was yellow-metalled and copper-fastened and classified A1.

The Robina Dunlop was an attractive vessel from all accounts and was employed carrying merchandise between Great Britain and New Zealand.

Unfortunately, Robina Dunlop met an untimely end, wrecked at the mouth of the Turakina River in 1877. All of the crew survived and, having lost everything they possessed, they were hospitably treated at a local marae, Tiniwaitara.

The official Inquiry found the master, John Graham, guilty of negligence and he lost his master’s certificate for two years.

Robina Dunlop was so soundly wrecked that one of the largest pieces to come ashore was her figurehead. Interestingly, the figurehead found its way to a local farm, and then to the Devonport Naval Base in 1935. While the figurehead no longer exists, the debris from the wreck can still be seen, including the yellow-metalled remains, spread among the sand dunes near Turakina River mouth.

Archaeology Project:

This wreckage is now the subject of a MAANZ project to investigate and document the wreck site. As a result of the project, the site has been registered as an NZAA Archsite (S23/106).

The project commenced in 2018 with a historical review of the foundering of the vessel followed by a site survey of wreck debris by a group of MAANZ members. Under Heritage NZ authority, wood samples from the site have been analysed and artefacts taken for conservation and creation of a museum display.

The project is ongoing and will result in documentation of the findings and a formal report to Heritage NZ.

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