Auckland Council appeals to the public after 205-year-old Crimean War Cannon stolen

Publish Date : 02 Jun 2023
Crimean War trophy gun, Albert Park 31 October 1896 Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Special Collections NZG-18961031-57, New Zealand Graphic

Auckland Council is appealing to the public after a 205-year-old Crimean War Cannon was stolen in the early hours of Thursday morning from Okahu Bay. 

This cannon is an important piece of Auckland’s history and has been in the city for 163 years. Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson is incredibly disappointed, noting that the Crimean War Cannon that has been situated at Okahu Bay for 71 years. 

“This is despicable behaviour. An iconic piece of such historical significance has been stolen and it’s hard to understand the purpose behind such a brazen act. I am angry and disappointed that this has happened. It was immediately reported to the Police and I hope the cannon is found and returned to the people of Auckland,” says Deputy Mayor Simpson. 

Ōrākei Local Board deputy chair Sarah Powrie says the board is shocked by the news that the cannon has been taken. 

“Theft of items of historical significance is disgraceful. We hope the cannon is recovered. It has been in New Zealand for over 150 years and provides a tactile way to connect with the past.” 

History of the Crimean War Cannon 

At the request of the Auckland Provincial Council in 1857, two near identical 18-pounder iron guns captured at Sevastopol were given to it by the British Government. 

The cannon was manufactured in 1817 at a foundry at Lugansk (now Luhansk, eastern Ukraine) and the only one of the ten made at that factory. It is the oldest of the ten sent to New Zealand and Australia. Embossed on the barrel in moulded relief is the Imperial Russian Cipher (coat of arms). 

They arrived in Tāmaki Makaurau on 17 March 1859 with appropriate cast iron carriages. Being still serviceable, they were installed at Fort Britomart and later at the Albert Barracks (now Albert Park). Following the closure of the Barracks, the now disabled guns were mounted and displayed in Albert Park. 

During WWII in approximately 1941, the guns, now regarded as antiques, were removed from Albert Park and relocated to Okahu Bay, proudly displayed on either side of the flagpole.  

Following the war’s end, the guns were returned to Albert Park. However, in 1951 the council decided to keep them at Okahu Bay in the care, but not ownership, of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club and placed on display for the public. 

We are reviewing CCTV camera footage to gather further evidence of the incident. 

We encourage anyone with information about the theft of the cannon or any other suspicious behaviour to please contact the council on 09 301 0101 or the Police on 105. 

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