Captain Thomas Wing – Surveyor and Harbour Master

Thursday, February 6, 2014
Captain Thomas Wing,  Harbourmaster and Pilot,  Manukau Harbour, Auckland Brian Byrne Collection.

When HMS Orpheus floundered at the entrance of the Manukau Harbour in 1863, with the loss of 189 lives, the career and reputation of Captain Thomas Wing and his son Edward were changed forever.  Wing Snr had accomplished a great deal before that day; he was a successful mariner, ship owner and had surveyed Tauranga, Raglan and Kaipara Harbours.  Wing Jnr had obtained his Master’s Certificate at the age of 19, even before he was deemed old enough to take charge of a ship.  After that day, both men had to fight to save their reputations. 

The 7th February 1863 has been recorded and reported on for 150 years, and the story is told in objects, film and the extraordinary painting by Admiral Richard Beechey within the galleries of the Maritime Museum.  Captain Wing and Edward Wing are now often considered to have been victims of blame and injustice by those in power at the time.

Descendents of the Wings still live in the Auckland area, not least Lady Barbara Harvey who with her husband Sir Bob have been instrumental in rehabilitating the reputation of Captain Thomas Wing – a servant of the Manakau.