Author(s): Gavin McLean
The sea may be our highway, but it can charge appallingly high tolls. Our ancestors rightly feared death and destruction at sea. In the last 200 years over 2000 ships have been fatally wrecked on New Zealand shores, sometimes with horrific loss of life. Many more have been salvaged only after epic struggle. In this lively book, leading historian Gavin McLean examines some of New Zealand's most interesting wrecks. In Full Astern he explores some of the iconic wrecks that wrote themselves into New Zealand history: the Orpheus, General Grant, Tararua, Wairarapa, Penguin, Wahine and Mikhail Lermontov. But others will be new to readers, the ordinary, everyday vessels on which New Zealanders depended. Full Astern is a story of terrifying storms, of inhospitable coastlines, of human error, of the malicious hand of fate, and of courtroom dramas as stunned communities picked through the evidence of disaster. It is also testimony to courage, endurance and self-sacrifice such as that displayed by the stewardesses on the Wairarapa who saw to the needs of their passengers with little thought of their own safety. But there is more to wrecks than ships hitting rocks, and in a unique feature, Gavin McLean places maritime risk in its broader context. No dry catalogue of accidents, Full Astern tells how people responded to the challenge of making our coasts safe, a quest that continues in the era of GPS and satellite.
More than 300 superb photographs bring alive dramatic days in New Zealand history. First published August 2007.