On 18 March, 1949, the National Airways Corporation’s Lockheed Lodestar ZK-AKX Kereru crashed on a ridge near Waikanae, on the Kapiti Coast of the North Island, while proceeding to land at Paraparaumu. All 15 people on board were killed.
On 18 March, 1949, the NAC’s ZK-AKX Kereru left Whenuapai Airport, Auckland on a flight to Christchurch and then Dunedin, with the first stop in Paraparaumu. Conditions were windy, with low cloud and mist.
The crew were Commander R. W. Bartley and First Officer R. A. Boys.
At 9:37am the pilot was given landing instructions by the Paraparaumu aircraft controller. Another aeroplane saw the Lodestar flying down near the mouth of the Otaki River.
At 10am an emergency was declared by the Paraparaumu aircraft control tower staff after they received no answers to their calls.
RNZAF aircraft began searching the area and found smoking wreckage from the missing plane on the ridge behind Waikanae, 3 miles away from the town. A rescue party tried to get to the site of the plane crash, but were unable to make their way through the heavy bush in the wet and cold conditions until the next morning.
Fire had destroyed almost all of the plane wreckage, but all those on board would have been killed when the plane flew into the side of the ridge.
How many died?
15 people died (13 passengers and 2 crew).
Other events and outcomes
A commission of enquiry found that there was no evidence of mechanical failure and that the crash was the result of a navigation mistake.
ZK-AKX Kereru was carrying mail, but most of it was destroyed by the fire. Only 100 letters survived to be eventually delivered.
- Aviation: accidents and disasters, John King, Wellington, 1995.
- Search our catalogue for information about the Lockheed Lodestar ZK-AKX Kereru.
- The "Kaka" and "Keruru" crashes from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966
- Today in History - 18 March from Stuff.co.nz