Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Wahine fifty years on


Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Wahine disaster with the loss of 53 lives. I was almost 19 at the time and can still recall listening to the minute by minute live radio commentary as the disaster unfolded. What is so memorable is the feeling of helplessness. The ferocity of the storm meant the would-be rescuers could only watch while remaining onshore.

At that time, television broadcasting was only eight years old in Aotearoa New Zealand and this was the first occasion where a significant disaster was able to be recorded as it happened.

Almost no one remembers the name of the ex tropical cyclone (I had to look it up: Cyclone Giselle) that collided with an Antarctic front over Cook Strait causing perhaps the most severe weather event in NZ in the last 100 years. Everyone remembers it as the “Wahine Storm“.

Unsettled weather is common for this time of the year. Today, much of the country is experiencing gale force winds, tornadoes and snow. Where I live we are experiencing high winds, reaching gale force at times, and it’s currently 8°C (46°F), whereas at the same time yesterday it was calm, sunny and a mild 19°C (66°F). However, today’s weather is nothing compared to this day 50 years ago.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

3 thoughts on “Wahine fifty years on

  1. I hope you and your family stay safe. I am personally scared of big water and big wind combined, that is why I never travel by ship. So, even if someone would give me a cruise ship ticket (not that anyone would, LOL), I would not use the ticket (I would re-sell it f possible).

    • One of my favourite memories is a ferry crossing from the South Island to the North Island way back in April 1971. It was in weather much like today and there was a huge swell in Cook Strait. Of the 500+ passengers on board that day, I was the only one foolhardy enough to stay in the forward observation lounge. One minute the bow would be pointing towards the sky, and the next minute it would be pointing downward into the black valley between swells and then disappear into the oncoming swell before popping up to point skywards again. Very exhilarating!

      Perhaps I wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much if I had been aware that some of the cars below deck had broken their restraints and were rolling into each other as the ship pitched about. Fortunately my car was undamaged, but some could not be driven off the ship.

      This YouTube clip depicts a sea that is quite common in Cook Strait:

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