Newspaper Article 1930 – Holiday Tragedies





The number of beach fatalities was added to on Saturday when, at about noon, one of the greatest tragedies In Hawke’s Bay occurred at the Peneipaua Rock, near the Tangoio lagoon, the sea claiming four victims, all of whom were residents of Hastings.

The names of the dead are:-

TRASK, WILLIAM JAMES, aged 51 years, foreman at McLeod and Gardiner’s sawmill at Puketitiri, and residing at 501 Selwyn road, Hastings.

TRASK, RICHARD DONALD, son of William Trask, aged 18 years, plumber, employed in Hastings.

TRASK, FRANCIS GORDON, a second son, aged 15 years, employed as a car painter in Hastings.

JONES, STANLEY ARTHUR, aged 23 years, shop assistant, residing at 902 Eaton road, Hastings.

Mr and Mrs Trask, who were out for a motor drive, were accompanied by their sons, Richard and Francis, their daughter, Beatrice, and a cousin of the family. On their way to Tangoio Mr. Trask stopped his car at the small hill a short distance from the bridge which crosses the lagoon and, with his two sons, went on to the face of the hill to observe the rock formation. A heavy surf was running and suddenly, a tremendous wave overwhelmed them, knocking all three down. Mr. Trask, on recovering his balance, made a gallant effort to assist his sons, who were being swept out to sea by the strong undertow. He, too, was soon in difficulty, and was swept out with his sons.

At this time three cyclists – John P. Johnston, aged 15 of Hastings; Arthur Garnham, aged 14, and Edward G. Scarfe, aged 14, both of Napier – reached the scene and at once made efforts to rescue the three unfortunates struggling in the surf. The task was quite beyond them, one of the boys narrowly avoiding sharing the fate of the others, but he managed to get ashore, where he collapsed. Others anxious to give assistance had by now arrived. Those in cars tore up rugs and carpets – in fact, anything available that would make ropes – in an endeavour to bring the victims to safety.

Stanley Arthur Jones, of Hastings, in company with some others, was passing the spot in a car. He, with Vincent Smith, one of Jones’ party, ran into the surf in the hope of rescuing one of the victims who was struggling hard some distance from the shore. The bodies of the other two could then be seen floating a quarter of a mile from shore. Smith succeeded in regaining the shore but Jones was caught in the undertow and he, too, was drowned.

Gordon Trask’s body was eventually recovered but, although efforts were made for some time by a doctor to bring him round, no sign of life were visible.

Stanley Jones’ body was next recovered: in his case the task of restoration was also a hopeless one. Some time passed before the bodies of William Trask and his son Robert were recovered.

An inquest was opened yesterday morning before the Coroner, Mr. A. M. Mowlem, S.M., when evidence of identification of the bodies was given.

The proceedings were then adjourned sine die.


At the inquest on the victims of the Peneipaua Rock drowning tragedy on Saturday last the Coroner, Mr. A. M. Mowlem, S.M., said to Mr. Arthur William Jones, father of Stanley Arthur Jones, who lost his life in attempting to save the Trasks:-

“Mr. Jones, I want to shake your hand. Your boy did a gallant deed, and you should be proud to have such a son. He died a noble, death, and died a man.”

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Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

21 April 1930


The Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Arthur Garnham
  • John P Johnston
  • Arthur William Jones
  • Stanley Arthur Jones
  • A James Mowlem
  • Edward G Scarfe
  • Vincent Smith
  • Beatrice Trask
  • Francis Gordon Trask
  • Richard Donald Trask
  • William James Trask

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