Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace will host a public memorial service on the coast at Eastbourne on 10 April to mark the 50th anniversary of the Wahine disaster.
10 April 1968 is a day with very specific meaning for those in the Wellington region and beyond, but has a special significance to those in Lower Hutt.
Of the 51 people who died on the day of the Wahine disaster, 49 lost their lives on the Pencarrow Coast near Eastbourne. The local Eastbourne community responded to the emergency in large measure, and many people will have strong memories of the appalling conditions that day.
The dawn service will be held at the Wahine Mast Memorial on 10 April 2018 at 6.30am, in memory of those who died.
Muritai School in Eastbourne is hosting a Wahine display of students’ work, memorabilia, and photographs from New Zealand’s national collections in its library. It will be open to the public from 8.30am on the 10th of April.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says the dawn service and public exhibition will be a moving experience.
“The local community was heavily involved in the rescue and recovery effort – people from all over came together to rescue survivors and provide them with warm blankets and shelter. The tragedy had an extensive impact on the families of those who died and on the survivors; it affected the Eastbourne community deeply too.”
Mayor Wallace said that the commemoration will also serve to raise awareness of the tragedy and the lessons we can all learn from it.
“It’s important that we remember the tragedy and reflect on what it means for us today. By building stronger communities we increase our resilience to natural disasters and have the ability to react when necessary.”
The dawn service is part of the ‘Wahine 50’ programme of events to mark the anniversary. In 2015, a group of survivors and rescuers from the Wahine disaster formed the Wahine 50 Charitable Trust to deliver a programme of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster. The rest of the day’s events will be held near the Wahine mast memorial in Wellington’s waterfront and in the coastal suburb of Seatoun.