Star of Canada

14 Stout Street, Gisborne

  • Star of Canada.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: G Henry. Date: 10/03/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 3554 Date Entered 5th April 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lots 13-14 DP 319 (CT GS2D/279) Sec 25 Blk III Turanganui SD (CT GS5B/1247), Gisborne Land District and the structure associated with Star of Canada thereon, and its fittings and fixtures (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the information upgrade report for further information).

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region

Legal description

Lots 13-14 DP 319 (CT GS2D/279), Sec 25 Blk III Turanganui SD (CTGS5B/1247), Gisborne Land District

Location description

Part of Tairawhiti Museum (at rear) on the banks of the Taruheru River


The Captain’s cabin and bridge of the Star of Canada, now located on the bank of the Taruheru River beside the Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne, are part of a wreck that has achieved a high measure of local fame, mostly because of the post ocean history of these structures. The Star of Canada was built by Workman, Clark and Co. of Belfast for the Tysar Line, and made its first voyage to New Zealand in 1910 in order to transport frozen meat and other produce from Australia and New Zealand back to England. The ship was 7280 tons (7396 tonnes); 470 feet, 3 inches long (151 metres), and had a carrying capacity of 130,000 carcases of mutton. After having been sailing for two and a half years, during which time she made six trips to New Zealand, on 23 June 1912 the Star of Canada ran aground off Kaiti Beach. Strenuous efforts were made to refloat the ship, however all hope of saving the vessel was eventually abandoned after several days.

The Captain’s cabin, chartroom and wheel house were salvaged by A.C. Mitchell, and purchased first by Mr Miller, a tobacconist, and then by W. Good, (a Gisborne jeweller), for £104. The structure was moved by greased railway lines and a steam roller to a section beside Good’s house at 274 Childers Road. In this location the house became a tourist attraction, ‘something to delight the landlubber and bring back memories to old salts who no longer sail the seas’, as a newspaper article from the house’s heyday put it. Set in a ‘sea’ of green lawn and concrete paths, the original cabin and deckhouse were supplemented by additional rooms downstairs, including a kitchen, dining room, bathroom and hall, ‘with the construction so adapted that there is no lack of harmony.’ The house was originally occupied by Mrs L. Woodfield, Good’s daughter, who lived there for a few years before moving next door to her father’s house and childhood home. On her death in 1983 Woodfield left the Star of Canada to the city of Gisborne. In 1985 it was moved from Childers Road to its current site in Kelvin Park, behind the main museum buildings, and converted into a maritime museum. The moving project was largely organised by Gisborne West Rotary Club, who ran fundraising events for the purpose. The move itself was a public parade including representatives of many local clubs and organisations.

The present Star of Canada is of timber construction with iron beams in the first floor, with exterior cladding of vertical teak boards and a number of small matching leadlight windows on the ground floor. The captain’s cabin has oak and walnut panelling and brass fittings, as well as the original desk, clock, barometer and other equipment. The Captain’s cabin area has been little changed, but parts of the structure added by Good when the building was a residence are now used to exhibit maritime arts and history. The structure is mounted on timber poles about one storey above ground level. Because of the slope of the land, the entrance to the structure’s lower floor is at ground level at the top of the rise on the north side. The ground floor area has been increased by the addition of a wide verandah around the entire structure. On the north side the verandah is roofed between the entrance turnstile and the door to the museum proper. Additional security is given by a picket fence reaching to the roof on this side. The three other sides are open decks with a galvanized steel safety rail. On the east and west sides, lifeboats are suspended above the deck. A mast is fitted into the deck on the building’s south side.

The Star of Canada has historical significance as a physical reminder of a well known maritime disaster in the Gisborne region, and therefore as a built structure that points to the importance of maritime history in the development of Gisborne (and the Tairawhiti region). With its rich legacy as, firstly a ship, and secondly a house, and thirdly a museum exhibit, the Star of Canada links strongly to local history and has a high level of community significance and appreciation.


Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Deck bucket; Plate; Washstand; Kerosene lamp; Step, Star of Canada; Blanket; Star of Canada inkwell; Kerosene lamp; Step, Star of Canada; Shelves; Chair, Captain's cabin/Star of Canada; Chair, Captain's cabin/Star of Canada; Chair, Captain's cabin/Star of Canada; Chair; Star of Canada folding chairs; Shelf unit; Table; Bunk bed; Oak bucket; Lantern; Brass wall lamps; Lamp; Coat hook; Dish; Inkstand; Clock; Scale; Inkstand; Bedspread; Pillowcase; Bed sheets; 2 paper knives; 2 flags: red ensign, Ship of the Line; Morse code signal lamp; Anchor; Clock stand;

Flag: Star of Canada red ensign; Star of Canada bell; Ship's propeller; Step ladder; Maritime signal flags; Plaque; Glass from Star of Canada porthole; Blanket; Star of Canada paper weight; Star of Canada porthole; Star of Canada wall mirror; 4 pieces of pipe from Star of Canada wreck; Ship's thermometer hatch; Brass bell; Candleholder; Plant pot; Blanket; Star of Canada plaque; Glass water jug, Star of Canada; 'Star of Canada' bell; Star of Canada sugar bowl; Crucible ex. Star of Canada.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1910 -

ran aground, vessel broken up- June 1912

cabin, chartroom and wheelhouse salvaged and moved to Childers Road property-1912

1913 -
Converted into a house with additional rooms

1985 -
relocated from Childers Road to Kelvin Park site

Completion Date

6th June 2011

Report Written By

Damian Skinner and Linda Pattison

Information Sources

Poverty Bay Herald

Poverty Bay Herald

4 July 1912

Other Information

A fully referenced report is available from the NZHPT Lower Northern Area office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.