Spectrum 169. The wreck of the Dundonald

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Tono kōrero mai

Albert Roberts, the sole living survivor of New Zealand's last classic shipwreck off the Auckland Islands in 1907, tells the powerful story of deprivation and man's ingenuity against all the odds. The four-masted steel barque "Dundonald" was wrecked on Disappointment Island. He had to overcome incredible hardship and difficulties. The survivors eventually constructed a coracle and reached a storage depot on the main Auckland group, from where they were rescued.

Part 1: Roberts described joining the boat aged 13 in Cardiff before it sailed to Sydney. On 6 March, 1907 after going off course, all hands were called on deck as the ship began sinking. The lifeboats were unable to be launched but some men scrambled to nearby cliffs and threw a rope to help others climb up. Unaware they weren’t on the main Auckland Island, they began looking for the shipwreck supply depot. Roberts describes how they ate mollymawks, albatrosses, seals, grass and made fire. He tells how he gave the burial service for one of the survivors who died. They experimented with making tents and built huts into the hillside. After failing to attract attention, the men constructed a canvas boat and one group sailed to the Auckland Islands.

Part 2: After making two more boats, the first group returned with some supplies and to take them to the Auckland Islands. They found the depot had been raided and the food stolen. A letter left at the depot revealed the ship the ‘Hinemoa’ had last visited the day they were shipwrecked and would return in 6 months. On this island they ate wild pig, quail and rabbit. They were rescued when the ‘Hinemoa’ returned and took them to New Zealand. Roberts describes the reaction of his parents to his return and is hurt that the Shipwreck Relief Society only gave everyone £2 each. Despite his ordeal, it hasn’t deterred him from sailing the seas again.

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Request information

Year 1976

Reference number 22397

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits RNZ Collection
ROBERTS, Albert, Interviewee
Owen, Alwyn (b.1926), Producer
Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand (estab. 1976, closed 1988), Broadcaster

Duration 00:44:14

Date 02 Feb 1976

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