The shipwreck found off Auckland’s west coast has been identified as looters were warned again that they could face a fine of $60,000 for stealing any part of the wreck, which is classified as an archaeological site.
The wreck was identified as the Daring, a 17m long schooner that was driven ashore by wild gales in 1865.
Vandals were warned about damaging Daring, with the wreck protected under the provisions of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act, with someone taking to the timbers with a chainsaw since 1 NEWS first visited the site on Tuesday.
The vessel, which was built in Mangawhai in 1863, had been carrying grass seed from Taranaki to Onehunga. No one died as it was beached intact.
Experts believe the wreck is well preserved because it appears to have been buried in sand since it was driven ashore.
The New Zealand Maritime Museum alerted Auckland Council’s heritage department to a Facebook post showing the discovery.
Robert Brassey, Auckland Council’s Principal Specialist in Cultural Heritage and maritime history expert, says it’s an astounding discovery.
“It’s extremely rare for a wreck of this age to have survived in such good condition; it is a significant part of our maritime heritage,” he said.
“However what’s even more astounding is that someone has been selfish enough to have damaged the ship within days of it being exposed by scavenging timber off it.”
Any person damaging or destroying the wreck is liable for a fine up to $60,000.
The site is also on a section of the beach controlled by the New Zealand Defence Force and is strictly off limits to the public at all times.