NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES

 

 

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East Island (1900-1922)

 

  

(Photo 1921?)

Photo by Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images.

    

(Photo 1921?)                                                                                                                            (Photo 1921?)

Photo by Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images.                                               Photo by Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images.

(Photo 1921?)                                                                                                                  

Photo by Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images. 

 

(Photo 1921?)                                                                                                                  

Photo by Eric Tarlton, used by permission of Once Again Images. 

 

Google has a satellite map 

 

The East Cape of the North Island is the first place to greet the sun each day. 

The East Cape area was selected as a lighthouse site in 1875 4 and a island off the cape, East Island was chosen as the lighthouse site. The island was known by the local Maori as Whangaokeno or Motu o Kaiawa and lies about 2 km off the cape. The island is about 13 hectares in size. 15

Preparation for the building of the lighthouse on East Island begun in 1898, but as there was no suitable landing beach on the island it was a hazardous job. Building materials were winched up the cliffs from work boats below to the construction site. During the construction, unfortunately four men were drowned when one of the work boats transporting equipment from the Steamer Hinemoa capsized in heavy seas. 1  The men were buried on the island. 3

The tower was the first to be constructed of cast iron sections in New Zealand by Thames Iron Works (Judd Engineering). 18

The light was first lit on August 9 1900, and was a three keeper station. 3  

The light was originally illuminated with a paraffin oil burning lamp, however, this was later replaced with an incandescent oil burning lamp. 1

To move supplies up to the lighthouse, a huge concrete block was placed on the beach at the western end of the island. From this block a wire rope ran to a winch at the top of the cliff. Then a tramway ran across the island to the lighthouse and buildings. Less than a month after the light was lit, heavy rains washed away the winch and wire ropeway and blocked most of the tramway. 3

The Hinemoa supplied stores every for months, while a local Maori mailman delivered the mail, although somewhat irregularly. 3

The local Maori considered the island tapu and the island did not want any human intrusion. In fact no Maori has ever lived on the island. This may have been true given the landslides, earthquakes and general inhospitality of the place. It was impossible for the keepers to have a vegetable garden or any livestock due to the bad soil. 3

In 1902, a telephone cable was installed to the mainland. By 1906, the graveyard on the island had grown to seven, with the addition of three keepers children. In February of that year more earthquakes were to damage the graveyard headstones and fence. Later in July, more storms caused slips that cut the telephone line in two places. The ketch Sir Henry also wrecked on the island at that time with the loss of three lives. 3

In 1902 the light station was established as a Post Office, the 4th of about 15 light stations around the country. 4

The keepers also maintained a signal station and reported passing ships by telegraph the Marine Department. 8

By 1921, the Marine Department decided to move the lighthouse to the mainland when the slips finally threatened the base of the tower itself. 1

The light was extinguished on April 22, 1922, and the tower was disassembled and lowered down the cliffs. From there the Government lighthouse tender Tutanekai transported it all to the mainland. 3  

The keepers houses on the island were abandoned. Later in 1930 a local farmer moved on to the island for nine months and dismantled the houses, lashed the timber together into rafts and floated them to the mainland. 3

Once the lighthouse was moved from the island all the slips and earthquakes ceased. 3

 

See East Cape for further details.

 

DIRECTIONS:

From Hwy 35 at Te Araroa, the East Cape lighthouse can be reached by a 25 minute drive on East Cape Road to the car park. Here you face a 20 minute climb up 500+ steps to the lighthouse.

 

Island North
Province Eastland
Location East Cape
Number K3932
Date Commissioned August 9, 1900  3
Date Decommissioned April 22, 1922 (Moved to East Cape)  3
Automated
Latitude
Longitude
Elevation Above Sea Level 362'  12
Height 69'  3
Character Flashing white light  12
Range 22 miles  12
Made Thames Iron Works (Judd Engineering)  18
Construction White tower, cast iron sections  3
Converted Kerosene To Diesel
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity

 

Principal Keeper From To
  1st lit, August 9, 1900  3  
     
Robert Henry Leighton 1901 ?  
     
     
     
     
    April 22, 1922 (Moved to East Cape)  3

 

Assistant Keeper (1st) From To
  1st lit, August 9, 1900  3  
Louis Thompson  22 July, 1900  22 March 12, 1902  22
William John Mitchell  22   (Probationary)  22  1905  22     July 30, 1905  22 
William John Mitchell  22 July 31, 1905  22     1907  22 
     
     
     
    April 22, 1922 (Moved to East Cape)  3

 

Sources

Additional Sources:

 

 

 

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Text and photographs. Copyright 1999-2013   Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.

If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. thekiwimark@msn.com

Last Updated: December 24th, 2009