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Definitive edition of expert's accounts of NZ shipwrecks

Before his untimely death in April, maritime history expert Gavin McLean was creating a definitive edition of his works on the tragedies that have plagued New Zealand shipping since the first waka reached our shores from Polynesia.

Brought to completion by his colleague and friend Kynan Gentry and published by Oratia Books this week, Shipwrecked New Zealand maritime disasters is a gripping, richly illustrated account of the hazards and heroism that distinguish our maritime history.

In the last 200 years, in fact over 2500 ships have been fatally wrecked on our shores, sometimes with horrific loss of life. Many more have been salvaged only after epic struggle. Disasters at sea are no longer the regular occurrence that led to drowning being known as ‘the New Zealand death’, yet recent wrecks like the Rena show that perils persist in the age of GPS and satellites.

Shipwrecked is a story of terrifying storms, inhospitable coastlines, human error, the malicious hand of fate, and courtroom dramas. It is also testimony to courage, endurance and self-sacrifice.

In addition to more than 150 photos and ephemera, Shipwrecked reproduces 16 superb colour paintings of notable ships lost to the sea, by renowned artist Eric Heath.

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