List of disasters in New Zealand by death toll
This is a list of New Zealand disasters by death toll, listing major disasters (excluding acts of war) which occurred in New Zealand and its territories or involved a significant number of New Zealand citizens, in a specific incident, where the loss of life was 10 or more.
100 or more deaths
Remnants of Flight 901 fuselage, 2005
Hastings Post Office after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake
Wreck of the HMS Orpheus
Most victims of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake died in the CTV Building's collapse
Wreck of the Tararua
Wreck of the SS Wairarapa
Inside the fissure formed in Tarawera's 1886 eruption
|Deaths||Name or description||Type||Date||Location||Notes|
|257||Air New Zealand Flight TE901||Air accident||28 Nov 1979||Mt Erebus, Ross Dependency, Antarctica||Controlled flight into terrain|
|256||1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake||earthquake||3 Feb 1931||20 km north of Napier|
|200+||1820s Southland tsunami||tsunami||1820s||Orepuki Beach||exact number killed unknown but according to Maori oral histories greater than 200|
|189||HMS Orpheus||shipwreck||7 Feb 1863||off the Manukau Heads near Auckland|
|185||2011 Christchurch earthquake||earthquake||22 February 2011||Christchurch|
|151||Tangiwai disaster||rail accident / lahar||24 Dec 1953||NIMT Whangaehu River bridge, between Waiouru and Ohakune||rail bridge destroyed by lahar from Mount Ruapehu|
|135+||1st Little Waihi landslide||landslide||1780||Te Rapa/Waihi Village|
|131||SS Tararua||shipwreck||29 Apr 1881||off Waipapa Point|
|121||SS Wairarapa||shipwreck||29 Oct 1894||off Great Barrier Island|
|108–153||1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera||volcanic eruption||10 Jun 1886||Mount Tarawera||The exact deathtoll ranges between 153, estimated at the time, and 108 based on more recent research|
50 to 99 deaths
Clipper ship Fiery Star
Wreck of the General Grant
Burial of victims of the Brunner Mine disaster
Salvage operations on the wreck of TEV Wahine
|Deaths||Name or description||Type||Date||Location||Notes|
|87||Fiery Star||shipwreck||11 May 1865||240 km off the Chatham Islands|
|75||SS Penguin||shipwreck||12 Feb 1909||off Cape Terawhiti|
|68||General Grant||shipwreck||May 1866||Auckland Island|
|65||Brunner Mine disaster||mine accident||26 Mar 1896||Brunner|
|65||2nd Little Waihi Landslide||landslide||7 May 1846||Waihi Village||Tribal leader Mananui Te Heuheu Tukino II and most of his family were killed in the landslide|
|53||TEV Wahine||shipwreck||10 Apr 1968||Barrett Reef, Wellington Harbour|
|52||City of Dunedin||shipwreck||20 May 1865||off Cape Terawhiti||There are estimates of between 250 and 600 passengers perishing, but these reports were 20 or more years later|
|51+||Blizzard and Flood of 1863||floods and blizzards||Jul 1863 - Aug 1863||Central Otago goldfields||The actual death toll was probably higher because of the transient nature of the miners and the ruggedness of the country|
10 to 49 deaths
Ballantyne's fire seen from ChristChurch Cathedral
Kaitangata Mine disaster memorial
Hyde railway disaster memorial
Strongman Mine disaster memorial
Octagon building fire
Remains of sulphur mine, White Island
|Deaths||Name or description||Type||Date||Location||Notes|
|48||Featherston Prisoner of war camp riot||Riot||25 Feb 1943||Featherston, New Zealand|
|45||SS Elingamite||shipwreck||9 Nov 1902||off West Island in the Three Kings Islands|
|43||Ralph's Mine||mine accident||12 Sep 1914||Huntly|
|41||Ballantyne's store disaster||fire||18 Nov 1947||Christchurch|
|40+||Great storm of 1868, flash floods and 12 shipwrecks||storm||3 Feb 1868||Predominantly eastern areas of New Zealand||Death toll likely understated as impact on many Maori unknown|
|37||Seacliff Lunatic Asylum||fire||8 Dec 1942||Seacliff|
|34||SS Taiaroa||shipwreck||11 Apr 1886||Clarence River mouth|
|34||Kaitangata Mine disaster||mine explosion||21 Feb 1879||Kaitangata|
|34||Dunedin||shipwreck (presumed)||1890||between Oamaru and London|
|30||Marlborough||shipwreck (presumed)||1890||between Lyttelton and London|
|29||Pike River Mine disaster||mine explosion||19 November 2010||northwest of Greymouth|
|29||MV Kaitawa||shipwreck||23 May 1966||near Pandora Bank, Cape Reinga|
|26||Barque Maria||shipwreck||1851||Cape Terawhiti|
|25+||Storm of 1897||floods and shipwreck||16 Apr 1897||North Island||flooding at Clive, boating accidents, and the wreck of the Zuleika near Cape Palliser. 25 confirmed deaths and 6 unconfirmed|
|25||MV Joyita||ghost ship||Oct 1955||En route from Apia, Samoa to Tokelau|
|24||Assaye||shipwreck (presumed)||1890||between London and Wellington; wreckage washed up at the Chatham Islands 7 months after the ship left London|
|23||New Zealand National Airways Corporation Flight 441||air accident||3 Jul 1963||Kaimai Ranges|
|22||launch Ranui||shipwreck||30 Dec 1950||off Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty|
|21||Hyde railway disaster||rail accident||4 Jun 1943||near Hyde|
|21||Kopuawhara flash flood of 1938||flood||19 Feb 1938||Destroyed the Kopuawhara railway workers camp|
|21||brigantine Sophia Pate||shipwreck||Aug 1841||Kaipara Harbour|
|20||schooner St. Vincent||shipwreck||1869||Palliser Bay|
|19||Strongman Mine||mine explosion||19 Jan 1967||near Greymouth|
|18||Canoe on Lake Rotorua||boating accident||16 Apr 1870||near Mokia Island on Lake Rotorua|
|18||Canoe on Motu River||boating accident||4 Aug 1900||Motu River - 25 miles from Opotiki||There were 16 children and 2 adults in the six person canoe|
|18||Clyde||shipwreck||6 Nov 1884||Horseshoe Bay, near Akaroa, Banks Peninsula|
|18||Lastingham||shipwreck||1 Sep 1884||Cape Jackson, Cook Strait|
|18||schooners Enterprise and Tauranga||shipwreck||23 Jul 1870||between Cape Rodney and Sail Rock, Hauraki Gulf|
|17||1929 Murchison earthquake||earthquake||17 Jun 1929||Murchison|
|17||Ongarue railway disaster||rail accident||6 Jul 1923||Ongarue|
|16||Capitaine Bougainville||shipwreck||3 Sep 1975||Whananaki|
|16||1943 Liberator crash at Whenuapai||air accident||2 Aug 1943||Whenuapai||Those killed were mainly Japanese civilians who were being repatriated in a prisoner exchange.|
|15||Brynderwyns bus accident||road accident||7 Feb 1963||Brynderwyn Hills|
|15||MV Holmglen||shipwreck||24 Nov 1959||near Timaru|
|15||Lockheed Lodestar airliner crash||air accident||18 Mar 1949||near Waikanae|
|15||Derry Castle||shipwreck||20 Mar 1887||Enderby Island, Auckland Islands|
|14||Cave Creek disaster||structural failure||28 Apr 1995||Paparoa National Park|
|14||Aramoana massacre||spree killing||13 Nov 1990||Aramoana, near Dunedin|
|14||Two Hudson bombers lost off the New Zealand coast||air accident||21 Aug 1944||en route from Fiji||No. 4 Squadron RNZAF|
|14||floods||17 Jan 1858||Hutt Valley|
|13||NAC Electra air crash||air accident||23 Oct 1948||on Mount Ruapehu|
|13||SS Ventnor||shipwreck||28 Oct 1902||off Omapere, Hokianga|
|12||barque Dundonald||shipwreck||7 Mar 1907||Disappointment Island, Auckland Islands|
|12||Barque Lizzie Bell||shipwreck||24 Jul 1901||Waimate, Taranaki|
|12||Cafe Chantant fire, The Octagon, Dunedin||fire||8 Sep 1879||Dunedin|
|12||ferry Pride of the Yarra and paddle steamer Favourite||collision||6 Jul 1863||Otago Harbour|
|12||L'Alcmène||shipwreck||3 Jun 1851||Baylys Beach, Kaipara||A French navy corvette|
|12||Brigantine Rio Loge||shipwreck (presumed)||Jan 1909||Last seen in Cook Strait on 14 January, en route from Kaipara to Dunedin||May have caused the wreck of the Penguin a month later.|
|12||Cyclone of 1936||storm||1 Feb 1936||North Island and upper South Island||A tropical cyclone that originated near the Solomon Islands|
|11||2012 Carterton hot air balloon crash||air accident||7 Jan 2012||near Carterton|
|11||Glen Afton mine, carbon monoxide asphyxiation||mine disaster||24 Sep 1939||Huntly|
|11||B17 bomber crash||air accident||12 Jun 1942||RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai|
|10||Aspiring Air Britten-Norman Islander, collided with terrain||air crash||8 Aug 1989||Upper Dart Valley|
|10||Brig Australia||shipwreck||23 May 1873||off Cape Campbell|
|10||Husky and Argo lost to storm in yacht race||shipwrecks||21 Jan 1951||between Wellington and Christchurch|
|10||sulphur mine destroyed||lahar||10 Sep 1914||Whakaari/White Island|
|10||Shamrock sailing boat||shipwreck||1834||Queen Charlotte Sound||Capsized and sank. Exact location unknown.|
NOTE: The exact number of deaths in some early New Zealand shipwrecks is not fully recorded. There may be several shipwrecks not listed here which claimed ten or more lives.
Pandemics and health crises
|Deaths||Name or description||Date||Location||Notes|
|8,600||1918 flu pandemic||1918 October–December||nationwide|||
|713||HIV/AIDS pandemic||1983–ongoing||nationwide||As of December 2014.|
|19||2009 flu pandemic||2009 April–September||nationwide|
Significant incidents of New Zealanders being killed overseas
|470||Cospatrick||ship lost to fire||17 Nov 1874||640 km south-west of the Cape of Good Hope, en route to Auckland||Only 3 people survived|
|100||The Trevelyan (immigrant ship en route from Glasgow)||storm||3 Jun 1888||Presumed foundered off the South African coast, en route to Port Chalmers, New Zealand|
|89||Knowsley Hall||shipwreck (presumed)||1879||between London and Lyttelton|
|79||Matoaka||shipwreck (presumed)||1869||between Lyttelton and London|
|10||Bere Ferrers rail accident, train hit NZ troops on tracks by platform||train accident||24 Sep 1917||Bere Ferrers, Devon, UK|
- List of disasters in Antarctica by death toll
- List of disasters in Australia by death toll
- List of disasters in Canada by death toll
- List of disasters in Great Britain and Ireland by death toll
- List of earthquakes in New Zealand
- List of natural disasters in New Zealand
- List of New Zealand-related topics
- List of rail accidents in New Zealand
- List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll (worldwide)
- Bateman New Zealand Encyclopedia, edition 4 (1995). Article: |earthquake 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, Hawke's Bay region, Napier
- Welch, Denis (4 February 2006). "Shake, Rattle & Roll". New Zealand Listener (3430): 29–30. A larger death toll of 258 includes two missing, presumed dead.
- "List of deceased – Christchurch earthquake". New Zealand Police. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Waihi Landslide Archived 15 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine., GeoNet News, Vol. 2, February 2003, p. 7. Death toll calculated by subtracting death tolls for two later landslides (64 and 1 in 1846 and 1910 respectively) from the total of "more than 200" given for all three.
- The eruption's death toll is uncertain. While 153 is a commonly quoted figure, only 108 named victims have been identified. Death list Archived 4 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Anheizen.com.
- In 2007, the General Manager of the Earthquake Commission said that "... Ngati Hinemihi oral accounts put the death toll in the thousands." David Middleton (2007). A Roof Over Their Heads? The challenge of accommodation following disasters Archived 28 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. (Accessed 2008-04-12.)
- Five more died before the survivors were rescued 18 months later.
- "Brunner Mine explosion". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Lamorna Cooper, Hipaua Steaming Cliffs and Little Waihi Landslide, Tephra, Vol. 19, June 2002, 42-47.
- Hura, Elizabeth. "Mananui Te Heuheu Tukino II". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- The original Wahine death toll was 51; two names were added 22 and 40 years later. Three more people were killed by Cyclone Giselle elsewhere in New Zealand.
- New Zealand Disasters - Mining: Ralph's Mine, Christchurch City Libraries.
- New Zealand disasters timeline, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
- Great storm of 1868, flash floods and 12 shipwrecks
- Disasters and Mishaps – Shipwrecks, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, updated 2007-09-18.
- Dunedin, which cites W.H. Brett's White Wings: Fifty years of sail in the New Zealand Trade, Vol. I. 1925.
- Beswick, Angela. "Pike River: Second explosion, no survivors". 3 News. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
- "NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES - SINKING OF MV KAITAWA - 1966". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- "NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS - CLIVE FLOODS - 1897". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- The Wreck of The "Zuleika", Palliser Bay. Quotes from NZ Truth, 16 March 1976.
- Field, Michael (6 March 2012). "1955 Pacific mystery to be finally marked". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- All 25 on board were missing when the boat was found, and are presumed dead.
- "Assaye from England to Auckland 1874". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- "NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS - RANUI SINKING - 1950". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- New Zealand Disasters - Kopuawhara flood, Christchurch City Libraries.
- Ryburn, Wayne (1999). Tall Spars, Steamers & Gum. Auckland, N.Z.: Kaipara Publications. p. 230. ISBN 0-473-06176-7.
- "Not many remember the Sophia Pate".
- New Zealand Disasters - Strongman Mine Explosion, Christchurch City Libraries.
- Rotorua. Terrible boat disaster — Eighteen natives drowned, Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVI, Issue 3953, 23 April 1870, Page 4
- Casualties, Evening Star , Issue 11329, 25 August 1900, Page 8
- "Sad boating disaster". The Daily Telegraph (9835). 7 August 1900. p. 5. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
- Clyde, Dive New Zealand Magazine.
- The Lastingham Wreck, Paul's Dive Planet.
- New Zealand Historical Data - Ship "Tauranga"
- Eileen McSaveney, Historic earthquakes - The 1929 Arthur's Pass and Murchison earthquakes, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Updated 2007-09-21. Accessed 2008-01-05.
- Whananaki Coastal Walk
- Livingstone, Bob (1998). Under the Southern Cross: The B-24 Liberator in the South Pacific. Turner. p. 115. ISBN 1-56311-432-1.
- New Zealand Disasters - Brynderwyns bus accident, Christchurch City Libraries.
- Disasters and Mishaps – Shipwrecks - Holmglen, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, updated 2007-09-18.
- "The Derry Castle". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
- [13 murder victims plus perpetrator]
- A. H. McLintock, ed. (1966). "Pre-war and Wartime Accidents". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- Weekly Feature - Early settler had leading role, Wairarapa Times-Age, 17 May 2003.
- Disasters and Mishaps – Shipwrecks - Ventnor, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, updated 2007-09-18. The cargo included the remains of 499 Chinese miners who had died in NZ and whose remains were being repatriated. The wreck was discovered in December 2012.102-year-old SS Ventnor shipwreck mystery revealed.
- Three more died before being rescued.
- "NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS - BARQUE LIZZIE BELL SINKING - 1901". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- "NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS - OCTAGON FIRE, DUNEDIN - 1879". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Wreck information, Quay Stuff.
- Wreck of the Alcmène
- "The Rio Loge". Press. Wellington. Press Association. 13 February 1909. p. 11. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "Supposed Hull of Rio Loge". Poverty Bay Herald. 22 February 1909. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Stacey Wood; Greer McDonald (11 February 2009). "Search for wreck of Penguin". Dominion Post. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Eight destructive New Zealand storms, Marilynn McLachlan, New Zealand Herald, Auckland, 4:00 PM Friday Mar 14, 2014 Retrieved 26 January 2016
- "Hot air balloon crash near Carterton kills 11". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- Sherwood, Alan & Phillips, Jock. "Coal and coal mining". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
- Lomas, David (10 April 2010). "Secret deaths". The New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 2012-01-07.
- "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
- "Loss of the brig Australia, at Cape Campbell". Grey River Argus. 7 June 1873. p. 2. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "Yacht Wrecked in Ocean Race". The Press. 29 January 1951. p. 6. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
- A death toll of 12 is sometimes given. This may include two miners who died during the year before the lahar.
- Add them to the list: Underwater survey discovers new wrecks in Marlborough Sounds, Oliver Lewis, Stuff.co.nz, Last updated 12:42, 1 September 2017, retrieved 1 September 2017
- "Epidemic | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Nzhistory.net.nz. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- "UNAIDS Country Progress Report New Zealand: Reporting Period: January 2014 – December 2014" (PDF). April 2015. p. 13. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
- John Wilson, The voyage out - Fire on the Cospatrick, from Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Updated 2007-09-21. Accessed 2008-05-20.
- The Mercury newspaper (Hobart, Australia), , Tuesday 30 October 1888
- Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Knowsley Hall', 1880, Board of Trade, 1880. Accessed 2008-05-21.
- The Missing New Zealand Ship 'MATOAKA', which cites The Times, London, 22 March 1870, page 9. Accessed 2008-05-21.
- "Devon - BBC News". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- New Zealand disasters timeline, Ministry for Culture and Heritage
- Natural hazards and disasters, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
- Shipwrecks, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand