Each wall of the Port-able exhibition tells a different piece of the story, amongst these the sorry tale of three shipwrecks, including the Waitangi.
The Waitangi was a twin-screw steamer of 192 tons gross. Built in England, her original name was the Banks Peninsula. In 1919, the Waitangi was purchased by the Patea Farmers Co-op Freezing Company and was used to transport Taranaki meat. In June 1920, heavy rain caused more silt to be deposited in the Patea river mouth and on 29 June the Waitangi became stuck but was later freed and made it to the wharf on the next tide. The Hawera and Kapuni suffered the same fate the following day.
On 5 May 1923, the Waitangi was entering port at 11.50am with Captain W. Brigden in command. The Hawera had successfully entered at 11.40am, but the Waitangi hit the end of the west wall, causing damage to both the ship and the wall. The collision caused her to swing around and she ran onto the rocks on the western side of the Patea mole. She suffered significant holes in her hull and was deemed a wreck.
For many years there was much debate over whether to attempt to remove her from the beach or leave her to rust. Over time she prevented sand from being blown over the wall and into the river. As the beach rose higher, she gradually disappeared. However, a heavy westerly exposed her in 1937 and again in 1978 and the elements continue to expose her.

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