Ken Sunshine recently contacted me through this Blog asking if I knew where to find the passenger list for the Rangitiki, from London to Wellington, in September 1960. I managed to track it down on familysearch.org (a free website), and in the meantime, Ken also found a different listing on findmypast.co.uk (you will need to be a paid up member to see this listing). Neither of these sites take their information from the printed passenger lists (as this Blog does), but from the official New Zealand Shipping Company listings.
According to Pitcairn Island as a Port of Call by Herbert Ford, the Rangitiki called at Pitcairn on 26th September on that particular voyage, so I asked Ken for his memories of the event:
“We did indeed call at Pitcairn. 57 years on it is still a vivid memory.
We dropped anchor about 2 a.m. Out of the darkness canoes appeared, tied up alongside, occupants with their wares clambered up the sides of Rangitiki and set up on the deck. All I remember were bunches of small bananas and carved wood items. We bought two turtles inscribed “Pitcairn Island” and “From Pitcairn Island, made by Sam Young”.
At 4 a.m. the ‘market’ closed, the visitors returned whence they had come and to the strains of Aloha-Oe disappeared into the blackness.
Most of the passengers slept through the whole event and missed a wonderful experience.”
I did not realise that ships called at Pitcairn in the middle of the night, I assumed they would just pass by. But as shipping has always been an important lifeline for Pitcairn, and in the days before email, with mail being so important, day or night would not matter to the islanders.
The photograph at the top of this post was taken by Tony Probst. It shows Pitcairn Island just before sunrise. Venus can be seen just above the moon. Clicking on the photograph will take you to Tony’s “Smugmug” site where you can see some fabulous photographs of Pitcairn Island. The other photographs show Ken’s Pitcairn turtles, purchased in 1960.