Sunday, August 28, 2011

A replica cannon in honour of the "Orpheus"

While being shown some of Mangere's sights, this was pointed out -- a half-scale replica cannon based  on the guns taken from the HMS Orpheus. It was unveiled 6 February 2007. The following comes from an article provided by the Mangere Historical Society, for New Zealands Legacy, Vol 19 No. 2 2007, p. 23.

6 February 2007 “… was the day a half-sized replica cannon was fired, one based on that which went down with the foundering of the steam corvette HMS Orpheus on the Manukau Bar, 7 February 1863. The replica had been commissioned by a couple living on Kiwi Esplanade, the road around the southern foreshore of Mangere Bridge.

“Local groups from the Bridge and around the Manukau were invited to take part in a parade to mark the occasion. The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, Mayor of Manukau, Sir Barry Curtis, Councillors, Community Board members, other dignitaries and representatives of various local groups were all there as invited guests and were entertained by the Sweet Adelines choir, and the City of Manukau Bands before the Orpheus Sea Scouts raised and unfurled the White Ensign. This was the flag that had been flown by the Orpheus on its journey to New Zealand. The bugler played God Save the Queen and then the public joined the National Anthem.

“Sir Barry Curtis welcomed the Prime Minister and all those gathered there. He spoke of the hazards undertaken by the early settlers and soldiers who travelled out to New Zealand in those days; of treacherous seas and very little in the way of aids to assist the navigators negotiating the dangers of the ever-changing sands of the Harbour Bar.

“The Prime Minister replied and they both uncovered the impressive cannon, mounted on a concrete platform beside the flagpole. The Prime Minister lit the wick and the cannon boomed out over the full tide of the Harbour. It seemed to echo on the water and several people who were taking photos with their digital cameras found they only had sky in their picture, as they had jumped so much as the pyrotechnics took effect.”

Graham Bourquin, the maker of the cannon, is known for his miniatures. But -- how on earth was this replica (non metal) able to fire? Amazing stuff.


  1. The Orpheus and the unfortunate souls on board it no doubt deserve a memorial - but a replica cannon? And a half-size one at that? This strikes me as somewhat absurd!

  2. I have to agree with you there, Dennis. The same thoughts go thrpough my mind on this. But -- I guess they consider there's already some grave markers around, the Orpheus Room at the Huia Museum, and another at the Maritime Museum. Plus -- this was something done by private citizens, rather than a council or government (although, quite frankly, chaps and ladies in power, get to it! 2013 is the 150th anniversary ...)