MAUKIN, brig:
Sailed from Auckland on a whaling cruise on 28 February 1852, and on 6 March was totally wrecked near North Cape, one of her crew being drowned while attempting to swim ashore. On 5 March the Maukin was hove-to about 16 miles NE b E from Knuckle Point. A heavy sea was running, and the vessel laboured heavily. The wind gradually increased towards night, and the next day blew so hard as to almost lay the vessel on her beam ends, the lee quarter-boat being swept away. About 10am land appeared on the lee beam, and a few minutes later, the mist rising a little, North Cape appeared on the weather bow. Realising his vessel was in danger unless a change of wind occurred, the master placed two hands at the wheel and wore round. He found the brig could not weather the further, or southern, point, and determined to run into the bay. As the Maukin went through the surf, a sea came on board, smashing the starboard boat to pieces. All hands, with the exception of the two at the wheel, were in the rigging, otherwise they must have been swept overboard. The brig then struck, and a succession of seas broke over her. Shortly after striking, two seamen, in attempting to get ashore, were washed away. One of them disappeared in the surf and was lost, but the crew managed to get the other on board again. Eventually the crew reached the land safely, but the brig broke up very quickly.
The Maukin, registered No. 26 of 1849, Port of Auckland, 106 tons, built in 1845 at Auckland by Archibald Sharp and Henry Niccol. Length 71.1ft., beam 19.4ft., depth 10.8ft. Owned by Mr William Smellie Grahame, of Auckland. Commanded by Captain Robert J. Eames, on whose recommendation His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor granted a reward of £5 to each of two Maori chiefs for their humane and hospitable treatment of the officers and crew of the Maukin. (See Southern Cross, 23 March 1852. Letters to Editor, 18 May 1852, Robert J. Eames, late master of Maukin.)

Text from New Zealand Shipwrecks, 8th edition (Hodder Moa, 2007). Used with permission of the publisher and authors.


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Archaehistoria has a special interest in shipwrecks of the Far North of New Zealand due to the beautiful, remote and untouched area. The challenge of accessing it is also part of the appeal. One of the Far North shipwrecks of interest is that of the 106 ton brig Maukin. The sailing vessel was built in Auckland in 1845 by Archibald Sharp and Henry Niccol and was on its inaugural whaling cruise in February 1852 when driven ashore by a storm in the North Cape area. But exactly where? To locate a shipwreck in a feasible amount of time, one needs a precise location. After sometime researching the wreck, the breakthrough came from simply perusing the modern topographic map (NZMS 260 Sheet NO2) of the area…a small cove 8km South of North Cape was called “Maukins Nook”. It was also identified as Rangiora Bay. Surely the only reason the bay was named as such is because the wreck was in the bay? After further research and reconnaissance expeditions to the Far North, Archaehistoria set out in mid-February 2010 to discover the wreck of the Maukin. The above photo depicts the stunningly beautiful Maukins Nook near North Cape. It was a very different scene 158 years before when the Maukin was driven ashore here during a fierce storm. One of the crew perished trying to reach the shore. 14 February 2010.
GPS Position 34º 28.450’E, 173º 0.100’E


MaukinThe survey for the Maukin, after years research, theory and preparation, is finally underway! Will my presumption be correct? The view is to the South from Maukins Nook. The survey plan was to simply follow the coastline around the bay, using the electronic plotter to keep track of our survey lines, and hopefully pick up the ferrous remains (anchor cable, anchors, cannon?, iron ballast?, iron fittings, whaling equipment?), of the Maukin. As history recorded, the 71.1 foot Maukin smashed to pieces on the coast in huge storm seas, so I figured our best ferrous contacts were likely to be found very shallow right in on the shoreline amongst the rocks or in the shallow sand. Did the Captain of the Maukin, Robert J. Eames, beached right in Rangiora Bay on the beach? This seemed to be the most reasonable thing to do to save life…or was the brig smashed on rocks just outside of the bay? Was it on the North or South side of the bay? Was it in the middle? Was the wreck going to be so shallow and well up the beach? Was the wreck miles outside the bay?! This survey was only made possible by the small size of Archaehistoria’s research vessel R.V. Heemskerck. We were able to tow the magnetometer into 2 meters and less of water depth, and skirt around the rocks very closely. The survey site was stunningly beautiful and for most of the survey we could see the bottom- this was a pretty uncommon during a survey! Monitoring the depth sounder and plotter, we established how close we could get to the rocks and work on the shallow areas. On the survey day, 14 February 2010, we were incredibly fortunate to have exceptionally good weather and sea conditions which allowed us to access the shallow areas. Despite this, we had to keep a watchful eye on oceans swells coming through and breaking outside of us and possibly capsizing the boat and $15,000 worth of electronic equipment into the ocean. The high manoeuvrability of our R.V. meant I could turn in a single boat length and a burst of speed would take us outside the big swell coming in before returning to the original track. The survey began off Te Topito Head, followed the rocks starting within 5 meters of the coastline in places (as close as we could safely go) went into Maukins Nook, along the beach heading South, then out and down the coast along the rocky coastline to a point and then return along the same track, back and forth repeatedly. It took many hours to complete the survey. 14 February 2010.



Although all magnetic data is automatically recorded, Archaehistoria’s magnetometer specialist Nick Freeman monitors the display and line data continuously during the survey for any immediate results. Surveys such as this require concentration, hard work, many $ and many tedious hours in a small boat. Often if something is immediately detected we can focus on that target and expand on it and get detailed data for it. As it happened, we actually detected what we believe is the remains of the Maukin on the very first survey track!. Initially the anomalies were very slight and largely went unnoticed by us, but would in later tracks develop into a huge contact. They were at first small peaks in the magnetic line data amongst the rocks in a certain location outside the bay itself. 14 February 2010.



MaukinSuccess! As the survey lines came off the coast we started coming across a massive ferrous target. It was very large and elongated outwards from the coast. In this very remote area, where no other magnetic targets were found, this large mass of ferrous material, must surely be from the Maukin. As yet (2011) the various targets have not been SCUBA dived. Archaehistoria surmises that in the large storm seas, the brig hit the bottom and broke up in the troughs of consecutive large waves some distance off shore first, and either breaking up and dumping possibly a large amount of iron ballast or capsizing at this point. The remaining wreckage has then been worked shore wards by the heavy storm seas and smashed amongst the rocks. The small magnetic contacts near the rocks is probably small ferrous fittings and objects scattered along that section of coastline. The survey result was a great success for Archaehistoria, but slightly unexpected in that we thought all the magnetic targets would be right in on the coast. 14 February 2010.


MaukinView looking North during the search for the wreck of the Maukin. The bulk of the 112 meter high Te Topito Headland is straight ahead with North Cape and Murimotu Island on the horizon. At North Cape is another shipwreck- the 595 gross ton early New Zealand steamer, William Denny. See William Denny page on this website. The William Denny was built (1853) not long after the Maukin and wrecked about the same time of year, 5 years after the brig went ashore. There probably would have been plenty of signs of Maukin wreckage on the coast at the time the William Denny stranded. 14 February 2010.



Mr. Nick Freeman with the magnetometer towed sensor head at Maukins Nook, preparing to deploy the sensor at the beginning of the survey. Ohao or Coal Point at the entrance to the Parengarenga Harbour is in the background. Nick Freeman is probably New Zealand’s foremost maritime magnetometer specialist. Nick Freeman and Ewan Stevenson have spent many years perfecting maritime magnetometer survey methodologies though trial and error, equipment reconfiguration and much time spent on the water. Sophisticated electronic equipment and the corrosive and often rough marine environment tend to be rather non-compatible!. 14 February 2010.


Maukin 0193smlMaukins Nook. After discovering the ferrous contacts in a particular location, I suggested a shoreline search would be worthwhile to be made on foot on the coast exactly opposite the submerged targets… “I bet we will find a piece of wreckage on shore there” I said pointing to the shore from the boat.  So, we landed in Maukins Nook for further investigation and confirmation of a wrecking. The bay is rarely visited due remoteness and difficult access. It was a very beautiful place and I felt very fortunate to be there for a short time. The versatility of our survey boat in making landings was certainly advantageous.  14 February 2010.


MaukinNick Freeman with the iron pin he found on the coast exactly opposite where we found the submerged ferrous targets. It was a very fortunate find by Nick as ferrous objects were difficult to detect visually due to the natural concretion. A metal detector would have been very useful to pin point objects on the rocks. The concretion on the iron pin appears consistent with the item being 158 years old. The finding of this iron pin, exactly where we predicted wreckage would be from the magnetometer targets, is further evidence we have discovered the wreck site of the brig Maukin. 14 February 2010.


MaukinThe colours of Maukins Nook were amazing. During the survey just offshore, I stood on the bow of the R.V. Heemskerck and watched school sharks on the surface peeling away from in front of the boat as we motored slowly along towing the magnetometer head. Later, we witnessed a big Kingfish (Seriola Grandis) attack a school of mullet in about one meter depth of water in Maukins Nook. 14 February 2010.


MaukinThe author, Ewan Stevenson, at Maukins Nook having just finished the survey searching for the wreck. I can’t believe I am finally here after all the research and preparation and probably just discovered the wreck. An added feature was the stunningly beautiful, unspoilt setting. 14 February 2010.


An anchor in storage at the Far North Regional Museum, Kaitaia.An anchor in storage at the Far North Regional Museum, Kaitaia. This anchor was discovered c1981-1982 in the beach sand amongst the rocks in the Northern corner of Maukins Nook by a couple picnicking. Estimated GPS 34º 28.415’S, 173° 0.200’E. The anchor was found as pictured with only the top of the anchor ring showing above the sand. It was dug out by the couple and then about a year later Far North Lands & Survey Ranger Hector “Hec” Crene organised it’s recovery via the use of a helicopter. We are fortunate this anchor ended up in the museum collection rather than the common fate of an unidentified garden ornament. Lack of funding for expensive conservation treatment has meant the anchor has suffered some corrosion damage. The anchor’s iron stock has been broken off leaving a portion behind. 15 February 2010.


Archaehistoria believes this is a Admiralty 1841 pattern anchor which would mean the Maukin built in 1845 was equip with a modern anchor for the times.

Archaehistoria believes this is a Admiralty 1841 pattern anchor which would mean the Maukin built in 1845 was equip with a modern anchor for the times. The anchor ring is an early feature; later the end D shackle was attached directly to the shank. Considering the original location and size of the anchor it seems likely it came from the Maukin, but it was found some 600 metres from the wreck site as identified by the magnetometer targets. How did it end up on the beach? Floated there on a piece of wreckage? It was found below the high tide mark but well up the beach. The most likely explanation is that it was carried and abandoned on the beach during a partial salvage operation. It was probably carried around the coast and possibly placed there ready to be taken out when conditions permitted by boat but it never occurred. Anchors were valuable items in a strongly maritime country like New Zealand. 15 February 2010.


Heritage Manager Don Hammond assisting Ewan Stevenson in measuring the anchor.Heritage Manager Don Hammond assisting Ewan Stevenson in measuring the anchor. The idea here is to try and determine if the anchor’s size is proportionate with the size of the ship. Further research is required. 15 February 2010.


Note how the end of the anchor shank sits on the pinned ball.Note how the end of the anchor shank sits on the pinned ball. The anchor’s stock has been in the folded stowed position when it has been broken off leaving a piece in the shank and the ball behind. 15 February 2010.



The author, Ewan Stevenson, with Heritage Manager Don Hammond and the Maukins Nook anchor.The author, Ewan Stevenson, with Heritage Manager Don Hammond and the Maukins Nook anchor. Don Hammond is a superb photographer and historian of Far North history including shipwrecks. Check out Don’s very nice website:  Archaehistoria gratefully acknowledges Don Hammond’s assistance with the anchor and its history and the support of the Far North Regional Museum. 15 February 2010.


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