Clara Crowhurst was born on the 26 October 1879 at Hawera, the third daughter of Thomas Edwin (J.P) and Catherine Elizabeth Crowhurst nee Byrne of Manaia. Thomas was the editor of the Waimate Witness (since incorporated into the Hawera Star) and was author of the book Life and Adventures in New Zealand.
On Sunday 29 November 1896, Clara left her home at 7 am, the picture of "sweet seventeen", full of life and prepared to enjoy it. She was a pupil teacher at Manaia, and reported upon by her inspector and headmaster as possessing exceptional ability and having apparently a bright future.
That morning a party of eight including Clara and two Miss Wordsworths (who were close friends) proceeded out to sea at about 9.30 am in an open whale boat called "Crest of the Wave" from the beach at Ohawe.
The party proceeded out about half a mile offshore, where they anchored for the purpose of fishing, remaining about an hour. Some of the party began to feel sick so they decided to return to shore. A big roller struck the boat with great force on the stern and lifted it up, swung it around to broadside on to the full force of the waves. The boat was then half-full of water and another breaker struck the boat capsizing it and throwing all into the sea.
Three of the passengers drowned, Clara Crowhurst, Robert Ephraim Briggs (father of Maggie Briggs) and Charles F Wordsworth. Clara's father was the acting coroner for the district and had the sad task of holding the inquests for the victims.
Clara was described as being beloved by the whole of her scholars, and had a large circle of friends. She was one for whom life has a real charm and whose bright and cheery smile spread a warm glow around her.
Clara Crowhurst was buried at the Manaia cemetery. Her sister was Charlotte Benton.
Inquest "Hawera Star" 30 Nov 1896
Life and Adventures in New Zealand by T E Crowhurst
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