NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
MISCELLANEOUS DEATHS OF UNKNOWN VICTIMS

Please Note: In many of these cases the newspaper report was not from the local newspaper.

A human skeleton, with clothes on, was found, on Wednesday last, by Mr Vercoe Jnr., at Matakana in the mangrove swamp, near the mill. Two knives were found in the pockets of the dress. Some three years ago, two persons were drowned in Matakana river, whose bodies have never been recovered. Daily Southern Cross, Volume XV, Issue 1195, 10 December 1858, Page 3

A skeleton has been found at Adria [Aria] in the King Country, in close proximity to it a six chambered revolver, four chambers of which were loaded; also a pair of bushman's boots. The evidence points to the skeleton's being that of a European, who has probably been dead ten years. Marlborough Express, Volume XLII, Issue 247, 17 October 1908, Page 4

GREYTOWN. A skeleton has been found in the flax at Waihenga, the remains of a case of brandy, a cup, and a chisel being adjacent. The remains are supposed to be those of Noble, late of Wanganui, who has been missing some time, and they are identified by the spectacles and the remnants of clothes. Evening Post, Volume IX, Issue 28, 15 March 1873, Page 2

SINGULAR EXPERIENCE OF A WAIRARAPA JURY. INQUEST ON A SKELETON. A somewhat singular inquest was held before Dr. Spratt the Greytown Coroner on Thursday. It appears that on Monday last, Messrs. R. G. Welch and Zilwood when searching for cattle in the Tararua Ranges, came upon the skeleton of a man at the foot of an upturned tree, on a very inaccessible part of the mountains. The coroner was duly communicated with, and a jury was empannelled to view the remains and find how, when, and by what means the deceased man came by his death. The journey up into the ranges seems to have been if not a very perilous undertaking, at any rate a very toilsome one. At one part of the journey, we are told, came a climb not to be adequately described hands, knees, toes, and almost eyelashes being required for its successful accomplishment. During this climb the constable accompanying the party several times called for a halt, for which sign of weakness he got a good deal chaffed. The jury further diversified their lugubrious proceedings by a pig hunt en route, carrying off with them one sucking pig and the tail and shield of a boar. On arriving, by dint of great labor, at their destination, the jury made a thorough examination of the spot and bones. Putting the bones of the legs together, under the coroner's direction, they formed a very good estimate of the man's height, which they found to be fully 6 feet. The remains were then buried and the party returned to Woodside, where they were invited to dinner by a hospitable settler. The evidence at the inquest showed that the remains were those of a man named James O'Donnell, who strayed away from the house of a Mrs. Dalton, where he was lodging, in December, 1879. He was suffering from the effects of drink at the time, and left in his trousers, shirt, and boots, without any hat. He was supposed to have been at one time an inmate of the Canterbury Lunatic Asylum. A verdict was returned in accordance with the evidence, that death was caused by exhaustion and exposure, and that the skeleton was that of James O'DONNELL, who left Woodside in December last year. Evening Post, Volume XX, Issue 238, 11 October 1880, Page 3

FINDING A SKELETON. Wairoa, September 1. The skeleton of a man was found on a hill near Morere. It is supposed to be the remains of Robert CLIFFORD, who disappeared about 18 months ago. The clothing was much rotted. Marlborough Express, Volume XXXVI, Issue 203, 2 September 1902, Page 4

MYSTERY BONES TO BE GIVEN A FUNERAL - Taranaki Daily News 01 June 1993
The human bones found on an Opunake beach in January will receive a formal burial this week. The bones, discovered by a fisherman at the Mangahume Stream mouth, would be buried at a nearby Maori burial ground on Thursday at the request of local elders - though they did not think the bones belonged to anyone from their tribe. A Taranaki Base Hospital pathology report revealed the remains (which included a skull, ribs, hip joints, shoulders, vertebrae and a jaw bone with teeth) came from three different adult bodies but the identities, sex and cause of death remain unknown. It was estimated the time of death was about 50 to 100 years ago. The report suggested the jawbone and teeth belonged to someone of Maori descent while there was no mention of the other two people's racial background. Father Terry Crowley of Opunake's Catholic Church would conduct the funeral.
Laurence Dudley Chambers born 1897 and his son Lawrence David Chambers born 1938 were drowned near there on the 27 September 1959. Their bodies were never recovered.

DISCOVERY OF A SKELETON.[UNITED PRESS ASSOCIATION.] Auckland, February 10, A skeleton has been found between the branches and trunk of a kauri tree near Kauwua, Hokianga. A tomahawk was found in the gum alongside. The skeleton is supposed to be the bones of a Portuguese gum digger who disappeared 20 years ago. It is supposed that he met with an accident in the tree in looking for gum, and died there miserably, the soft gum afterwards forming round the body. Marlborough Express, Volume XXXIV, Issue 34, 11 February 1899, Page 2

An enquiry was held on Monday at the Toll-house, Kaiapoi, before Mr. Dudley, the coroner for the district, respecting the skeleton of a man which had been found by Mr Orchard, of Woodend, on the north beach. Mr Orchard, who is a carpenter and resides at Waikuku, said that on the 18th inst. he was walking on the beach when he found portions of a skeleton, viz., the skull, backbone, one leg and foot... he should suppose them to be those of a man of from 45 to 60 years of age and about 5 feet 8 inches in height...Timaru Herald, Volume I, Issue 52, 27 May 1865, Page 6

The Wairarapa Mercury states that on August 16, a man in Mr Guthrie's employ at Castle Point discovered the body of a drowned man lying among the rocks at Ngakukou ahout two and a half miles south of Castle Point. Mr Guthrie visited the spot and saw the body, which was apparently quite naked, as his legs were under a rock of more than half a ton weight, which had ro be moved before the body could be got out. He had on the legs a pair of under trouper, which were down over his boots. He had on his feet a pair of well-worn watertights and a pair of military socks. There was no mark on these to lead to identification, but his heavy nailed boots would indicate that he had not been a seaman. There was nothing in his pockets, and he appeared to have been about 50 years old, and about 5 feet 7 inches in height, a little bald on his fore head, and his beard and whiskers had been closely shaven. He had a severe bruise on his breast, and another on his thigh, which might have been inflicted by some heavy instrument, or caused by some heavy fall. He appeared to have been in the water about three weeks. Mr Guthrie had the body buried he has not been able to obtain any clue to its identification. Wanganui Herald, Volume I, Issue 78, 31 August 1867, Page 2

June 20 [1883] The dead body of a middle aged woman was found in the river Ashley near Rangiora yesterday evening. From the appearance of the body it had evidently been in the water three or four weeks, and has not yet been identified. The affair is a mysterious one, as no one was reported missing in the district. Grey River Argus, Volume XXX, Issue 4625, 21 June 1883, Page 2

Napier. November 12 1895 - The dead body of a man has been found in a creek near Pukawhau Road, Hastings. The name is unknown, but the body is that of a swagger. Thames Advertiser, Volume XXVII, Issue 8276, 13 November 1895, Page 2

Timaru, July 4 [1896] The body of a man, name unknown, was found in an old hut in Pareora on Thursday. It was brought to town today by the police. The body is that of an elderly man, apparently a sailor from his clothing, and is almost a skeleton. It must have lain there some months. There is no clue at all as to its identity. Thames Star, Volume xxviii, Issue 8396, 6 July 1896, Page 2

Mr Stone Wigg, of Tane, near Eketahuna, has reported to the police the finding of some human remains on his property. Constable Grey is making enquiries. A Press Association telegram states that some years ago a man named William CLEMENTS, who had been drinking heavily in Eketahuna, left for Pahiatua via Mangaone (where the body was found) and had not again been heard of. It is thought the remains are his. Evening Post, Volume LVII, 19 April 1899, Page 6. Is this our Alfred CLEMENT??

Yesterday afternoon two lads named Sharp and Couchman, while walking on the bank of the Hutt River, a little above the Gear Company's manure works, saw the body of a man floating down stream. They notified Constables Cox and Pearce, who recovered the body and removed it to the Empire Hotel, where it awaits identification. The remains are those of a man about 40 years of age, 5ft 7in in height, and rather stoutly built. There was no coat on the body, and the nether limbs were clothed with two pairs of American dungarees, similar to those worn by engineers and firemen. The body appears to have been in the water for about ten days. It is believed to be that of a fireman or a sailor who was seen at Petone three or four weeks ago. He then appeared to be queer in the head. There was a small mark over the left eye, caused, it is believed, through bumping against the stones in the river bed. An inquest was being held this afternoon. Evening Post, Volume LX, Issue 43, 20 August 1900, Page 5

The inquest held at Waitotara on Tuesday upon the body of a woman found last Sunday upon the sea-beach at Waitotara failed to disclose the name of deceased or the actual cause of death. The body having been in the water probably for several weeks, no external evidence of drowning could be found. There were no marks of violence, no scars, no deformity, The body was well nourished, and the clothing is of unusually good quality. A striking circumstance was the fact of the body being without the outer garments skirt and bodice. The brooch, fastened at the neck to an inner bodice, has the name "Souitini F" lightly scratched upon the cameo. Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume XXVII, Issue 7491, 22 June 1903, Page 3

Dunedin, June 28 [1906] At the inquest on the body found in the Molyneux river near Clyde, a verdict was returned by the jury of "Found drowned," there not being sufficient evidence of identification. The evidence went to show that the boots on the Body were similar to those sold to Anderson, a dredge hand drowned about four months ago, and the woman who had washed for Anderson thought the socks were those worn by him, while a piece of under-pants found were of the same texture, but she could not swear the darning on the socks was her work. At an inquest held at Cromwell four months ago on a body found in the river, the body was identified as that of Anderson, and the remains were buried as those of Anderson. A man named Steel went missing shortly after Anderson's death and no trace of him has been found, unless the body buried as Anderson's was his. Taranaki Herald, Volume LIV, Issue 13204, 30 June 1906, Page 5

WELLINGTON, September 17 [1906] An inquest has been held on the body found at Wadestown. Evidence of identification was incomplete. One witness identified the remains as those of a gardener, named John MALING while others believed they were those of a seaman named Fred BROWN, also known as Fred HEDGELONG. The jury returned a verdict that deceased, name unknown, committed suicide ...Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XXXV, Issue 4952, 17 September 1906, Page 3

Auckland, this day. The inquest on the body of a man found drowned at Devonport did not disclose the identity of deceased. The body is evidently that of a labouring man. A handkerchief found on the body, bearing the name of C Kasper proved it to be the property of Captain Kaspar, of the scow Endeavour, but he was unable to identify the body or explain how the handkerchief came into the possession of deceased. An open verdict was returned. Waihi Daily Telegraph, Volume VII, Issue 1948, 25 May 1907, Page 2

The finding of an unidentified body on Cheltenham beach ... There is reason to believe that a guess may safely be made at the identity of the person whose remains have so long remained buried in the sand. In the finding of this body there is every probability that we have a distant echo of the terrible Kapanui-Claymore collision of December, 1905. The clothing corresponds with that said to have been worn by Luke LANGTON, who is supposed to have lost his life in that disaster. He is known to have ridden in from Maungaturoto, and just succeeded in catching the Kapanui at Warkworth, leaving his horse there. His build is given as nearly identical with the description tbat was formed of the remains at yesterday's inquest... Auckland Star, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 254, 24 October 1907, Page 5

Found DROWNED.-Sergeant Kinsella has shewn us a letter from the Rev. Daniel Desbois, of Otaki, asking the assistance of the police, under the following circumstances. A young man was drowned while attempting to cross the Otaki river at the mouth on Thursday, the 19th inst.; height, about 5 ft.4, age about 21, rather stout, aquiline nose, high color brown hair and whiskers; had on a tweed suit, black with white specks; lace-up boots, supposed to be a great smoker. He rode a chesnut pony, unshod, which had recently been cut for lampusóbranded AK (letters joined,) Supposed to be going from Taranaki to Wellington to avoid the enquiries of the police. On his person were fragments of letters wherein are found the names Taylor, Harding, Snelson, and Captain Miader. He has been buried here and Mr. Desbois would be glad of any help in identifying the poor man, in order that he may communicate with his friends. Otaki September 23, 1867. We have every reason to believe the body to be that of Parker who it will be remembered spread false reports about being robbed by the Maoris at Opunaki. Wanganui Herald, Volume I, Issue 99, 25 September 1867, Page 2. The Independent has the following ó "Information has reached town that Mr. John O'Hay PARKER has been drowned in crossing one of the rivers on the West Coast. Mr Parker came to this colony very recently in the ship Southern Cross, and since his arrival has been travelling through this island." Is not this the Mr Parker who created such a furore here a few weeks ago, by circulating a report, that he had been robbed by the Maoris on his way from Taranaki to Patea, and about whose death information had been received by Sergeant Kinsella, from the Revd. Mr. Dubois. Wanganui Herald, Volume I, Issue 107, 4 October 1867, Page 2



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