70 years ago, on 19 January 1947, the trans-Tasman passenger liner TSMV Wanganella hit Barrett Reef in Wellington Harbour.
Coming into port at 11.30pm, the ship’s captain mistook the buoy in front of the reef for a light guiding ships into the harbour. Subsequently the ship, which was carrying 400 passengers from Sydney, stuck to the rocks.
Fortunately, the Wanganella’s passengers were rescued the next day. Rescuing the vessel, however, was not so easy. In spite of several attempts by tugboats to unstick the ship, it remained firmly attached to the reef for 18 days.
The ship was finally freed on 6 February. This film, held in the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, shows tugboats attempting to shift the vessel and eventually succeeding.