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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Heart of Europe

    New Zealand corpse ship causes row at press conference

    New Zealand filmmaker John Albert held a press conference last week to announce that the sunken ship he discovered in 2012 is (he believes) the 'corpse ship' SS Ventnor, which sank off the New Zealand coast in 1902, taking the Captain, 12 hands and the 499 corpses it was carrying down with it. It had left Wellington a short while before, bound for Hong Kong, to repatriate the remains of Chinese migrant gold rush workers, who had taken out a policy to ensure their remains went back to their homeland in the event of their death in New Zealand.

    Their skeletal remains had been carefully scrubbed and placed in calico bags before transportation, while the most recently deceased had been sealed in lead coffins. The man who organized the insurance, Choie Sew Hoy, had also recently passed away, so his corpse was aboard the ship too. The only list identifying the corpses also went down with the ship, so that information has been lost since the sinking as well. The only corpse known for certain to be aboard was that of Sew Hoy.

    Unfortunately, members of the Chinese community invited to the presser - including a relative of Sew Hoy - had not been told that filmmaker Albert and his team had removed several artifacts from the wreck, including a porthole, lamp and bell, in order to prove to museum authorities in China that the wreck was indeed the Ventnor. Which they didn't. Not conclusively, anyhow. Nor had the community been consulted about retrieving and returning the remains to China.

    The Chinese community in NZ is now at odds with the filmmaker. He says he is hurt by the anger, has spent a lot of his own money and just wants to see the remains finally returned to China (and make a film about it); they believe the site is a grave and should not have been disturbed, and that it could prove too difficult to identify any of the remains still resting at the bottom of the ocean anyway. A government minister made the situation worse by suggesting the wreck should become a tourist attraction. While the debate continues, the site has been granted protected status, so no more artifacts can be removed.

    We 'embraced' the missing Bob Harrod case as requested but 6 years on, are still waiting for further guidance

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    my cosy corner
    I agree with the film-maker who thought the remains should be finally returned to China (and make a film about it). All of the deceased on board had wanted their remains to return to China and that was what that ship was doing, it was taking them back to China. I don't see what the problem is, why not continue to do that.!

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