The steamer Wimmera travelled through the night of June 25, 1918, her passengers on their way from Auckland to Sydney, asleep.
On board were 76 passengers and 75 crew.
They woke suddenly as the ship vibrated violently.
The Wimmera had struck an enemy mine, laid by the German merchant raider SMS Wolf.
The huge explosion had blown away part of the stern and some cabins and broken the main shaft and put the dynamo out of action.
Under a moonlit night, Captain Herbert James Graham Kell ordered the lifeboats launched.
For a short time the ship remained stable and passengers were quickly put into a heavy sea.
All the boats managed to make it away from the sinking ship which suddenly rose by the bow for her death plunge, sending up a huge geyser of water.
Captain Kell had remained on the ship.
For a while the lifeboats made good progress. Four landed near Tom Bowling Bay near New Zealand's North Cape. More landed at Taemaro east of Mangonui.
One boat was swept along ending up at Kaiamou Beach.
Under wartime censorship, little was initially able to be published. Later, lists of the survivors and fears that the last boat had been lost were in newspapers.
Eight months before the voyage a warning had been issued about a moored enemy mine that had been swept off the coast of Australia. Captain Kell had seen that warning.
A court of inquiry found Captain Kell had taken that too lightly. Twenty-six had died in the disaster.
In 2010 the wreck of the Wimmera was believed to have been found using advanced underwater sonar developed by the company of Auckland electronics expert Mike Hodson north of Cape Reinga.
Captain Kell’s resting place is now known.