The Lost Voyage of 499

One family’s mission to trace their ancestor’s remains buried deep in the coastal sands of northern New Zealand and, together with a local Maori tribe, attempt to lay to rest the other restless spirits of 499 missing miners lost at sea over 100 years ago.

Produced by NHNZ

The S.S. Ventnor leaves Wellington bound for Hong Kong on October 26th 1902, on a mission to return the bodies of 499 Chinese miners to their place of birth in Guandong, China. According to ancient Chinese tradition, a soul cannot rest in peace far from home. Tragically, the ship sinks ten miles off the coast of the Hokianga, near the top of New Zealand. Most of the crew make it to shore but the steamship’s cargo goes down with the ship, which has never officially been located.

The Lost Voyage of 499 follows Duncan Sew Hoy the great grandson of Choie Sew Hoy, one of the first and greatest Chinese pioneers in New Zealand whose remains were aboard the lost ship.

Duncan and his son Peter explore Choie’s legacy in Dunedin and discover the history behind the voyage of the S.S. Ventnor before travelling to Hokianga. There, along with other Chinese descendants of the 499, they meet people of the Te Roroa and Te Rarawa tribes, whose ancestors took it upon themselves to becomes guardians of the souls of the 499 and bury remains that washed ashore on their own sacred land. As they seek to complete the circle, Duncan and Peter make the ancestral journey back to China in the hope of finally laying to rest the spirit of Choie Sew Hoy.

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