Wahine disaster 1968

Where can I find information about the Wahine disaster in 1968?

Junior Secondary

(Years 7-10)

Image: Wahine sinking in Wellington Harbour by Dominion post. Collection: Alexander Turnbull Library (modified from original).

Entry last updated: 26/05/22


The Wahine was a ferry that ran between Lyttelton and Wellington. In 1968, it sank just off the coast of Wellington. Over fifty people died, making it one of the worst maritime disasters in New Zealand's history.

General websites

The following websites give you a great overview of the Wahine disaster.


This is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. There are two ways of searching for information on this site. You can type your keywords into the search bar at the top of the page or do a event search, following these steps:

  • go to the Events tab
  • then choose Events A-Z, and
  • select W then Wahine Disaster.

Tips: If we go all the way down the page we can see that this website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so we should be able to trust the information.

Christchurch City Libraries

This public library website has a section especially for Kids which includes lots of information about New Zealand disasters, as well as websites for you to explore further.

  • Go to Kids from the Explore tab.
  • Then choose Homework from the menu on the left.
  • Scroll down to the end of the Subject guides section and look for the heading New Zealand disasters.
  • Choose Wahine Shipwreck.

Tips: The information on this website is written by librarians from Christchurch City Libraries so the information should be well researched and reliable.

New Zealand Maritime Record

This website is supported by the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, so we know we can trust the information. Here you will find lots of information about the ferry itself, including diagrams of the layout of the ship, pictures from inside before the sinking, as well as information about the sinking.

  • Scroll down to the section titled New Zealand Maritime Disasters.
  • Select Wahine.

Primary sources

Primary sources are things like letters, images, diaries, and other information created during that time in history or by people who were there.


This search site focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites. It has lots of primary sources and the results are grouped by the type of information.

  • Search for 'Wahine disaster' and look through the different tabs of results.
  • Go to Audio results to find interviews with survivors of the shipwreck.
  • Try Video results to find original clips and more recent documentaries about the disaster.

New Zealand Electronic Text Centre

This is a digitised collection of New Zealand and Pacific texts and includes lots of historical books. Here you will be able to find a book published in 1970, two years after the disaster.

  • Search using keywords like 'Wahine disaster'.
  • Select The Wahine Disaster listed under Works.
  • Choose the link to Chapter One to start reading.

This website has been created by Victoria University in Wellington. You can see this by checking the About section to the right of the screen.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of the web address – they have .ac, meaning they are from an educational organisation. They’re also a New Zealand site, so relevant for us.

EPIC resources

EPIC is a collection of reliable resources covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre

This site has lots of newspaper and magazine articles focusing on New Zealand and Australia. Just type 'Wahine disaster' into the search bar to find lots of results.

New Zealand Geographic Archive

This is the entire archive of the New Zealand Geographic magazine, with articles and great pictures of New Zealand people, culture and history. Type 'Wahine disaster' into the search bar to find the memorial article Wahine disaster: 40 years ago.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.


There are a number of books that have been written about the Wahine disaster - check out your local public or school library to see what they have there.

Here are a few recommended titles:

SCIS no: 1839722

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