"MARGUERITE MIRABAUD"

SHIPWRECKED 1907 - AKATORE BEACH, SOUTH OTAGO, NEW ZEALAND

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The "Marguerite Mirabaud" was a 2,293 gross tons French Barque built at Nantes France in 1900. Late in 1906 and under the command of the experienced Captain J.M.Tattevin the vessel left La Rochelle bound for Tahiti with a cargo of Wine and 1000 tons of coal briquettes for the French Navy.

After a call at Hobart in Tasmania   the "Marguerite Mirabaud" rounded the bottom of New Zealand and sailed up the East Coast of Southland and Otago in increasingly dense fog and high seas. Early in the morning of 17th February, 1907 she unexpectedly came ashore on Akatore Beach (now known as Chrystals Beach) due to what was described as a lack of abilty to accurately establish her location because of the weather.

The first mate Mr M. Guihu (who was the only English speaker in the crew of 24) swam a line ashore but this was soon lost as was a ships boat when first launched but eventually all crew and lastly the captain were safely brought to shore.

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Chrystals Beach is only a few miles from Milton over some low hills.  The following day (Monday) the survivors were taken by horse and cart to Milton where after a short welcome they were taken by express train to Dunedin and eventually home to France.

In the meantime efforts were made to salvage the vessel. Messers Hopkins and Geddes provided top bid for the ships hull while Mr J.Nelson also of Milton won the tender for the ships cargo.

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By mid March most items had been secured and on the 20th March, 1907 an auction of various salvaged goods was held at Chrystals Beach. By this time very little remained of the vessel itself.

The mainmast  from the vessel however has been erected just above the beach as a reminder of the wreck and a commemorative plaque is scheduled to be added for the centenary in February, 2007.

"What the locals said about the Wrecking".

A different slant on the story of the shipwreck has been told in the past by some people of Milton. Their story is that "the sea that day was like a mill pond, the weather clear, and there was no reason for the ship to be wrecked at all, except that the crew had helped themselves to the cargo of wine and spirits".

 

HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF THE "MARGUERITE MIRABAUD".

1907 was the height of the boom of the classic era of picture postcards in New Zealand. Newspapers of the day carried no photos and weekly magazines were expensive and often old news by the time they turned up. Radios were non existant and so the 1d postcard provided the first oportunity to see an event or something new. The Wreck of the "Marguerite Mirabaud" was big news in the South Otago district (and throughout New Zealand) and so people turned to a picture postcard to see what had happened.

A local Milton photographer, Mr Joseph Bremner took many photos which were subsequently turned into postcards by a variety of postcard publishers. It appears that at least 5 publishers used Mr Bremners photos and one of them, a Mr W. Moffat junior who ran the Optimus Studio Company in Milton, even had a "Greetings from Milton" card specially printed in Saxony which featured the ship wreck. Some 30 different views are now know used as picture postcards. However these cards are nowdays exceedinly scarce and command high prices when the turn up in auction or elsewhere.

In 2006 with the Anniversary of the shipwreck looming and various celebrations being planned it was realised that a selection of the best of these postcard images of the shipwreck could be reprinted in a series of sepia toned modern postcards. Accordingly Shades Stamp Shop Ltd in association with the Tokomariro Historical Society has had printed a set of 12 postcards showing scenes taken from selected original 1907 photographic cards. These cards are only available for purchase as a set in the following ways.

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The Back of the postcards looks like the one shown at left except each card has its own description.


By Mail Order; SHADES STAMP SHOP, 108 HEREFORD ST, CHRISTCHURCH 8011

EMAIL; steve@philatelic.org.nz    Ordering Details page  Phone (03) 3666390

Price = US$15 or NZ$20 postpaid worldwide for complete set.


or the cards can also be purchased from the Museum shop at;

Tokomairiro Historic Society. Museum at 51-53 Union St, Milton, South Otago.

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