HMS Buffalo Re-examination Project Update

22 Feb 2021

A team of 10 volunteer divers led by maritime archaeologists, Matthew Gainsford and Kurt Bennett, will be surveying the Buffalo wreck over the two days. The surveying work entails measuring, photographing, recording details and taking samples that will paint a picture of the wreck as it sits on the ocean floor 50m from Buffalo Beach in Whitianga. The last archaeological survey was done in 1986 by another maritime archaeologist, Bill Jeffery, and five divers from Adelaide, Australia. 

With the advancement in technology over the last 35 years, it is hoped that the survey will produce sufficient photographs and data to create a 3D model of the wreck. The scientific testing of the samples taken will provide a reference for establishing the earliest origins of the artefacts held in the Mercury Bay Museum collection.

The public are invited to join in on the project on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday morning will start with a karakia by Joe Davis of Ngati Hei at 7:00am. Following a divers’ briefing, teams of divers will enter the water on a rotating basis over the day. They will start again on Sunday morning through to early afternoon.

The Mercury Bay Museum holds a wealth of information about the HMS Buffalo archaeological site which has gained recognition both locally, nationally and internationally.  The re-survey project team and museum staff will be on site at the HMS Buffalo Memorial on Buffalo Beach Road in Whitianga from Thursday to Sunday with informative displays and artefacts.  Approximately 200 children from local schools will visit the Buffalo Memorial on Thursday and Friday to gain a greater understanding of the role the Buffalo played in our local history. 

“It’s going to be an exciting weekend and we really hope that the locals come down and join us. Dress up smart as a national television station will be on site to record this fantastic project,” says Rebecca Cox, Mercury Bay Museum Manager and project leader.

Pictured: A painting of the grounding of HMS Buffalo by maritime artists, Paul Deacon. The painting is part of the Mercury Bay Museum’s Buffalo collection.