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Kauri in the Coromandel region. Photo: SUPPLIED

Boating accident casts gloom over Stony Bay

As part of a Valley Profile series, MEGHAN HAWKES explores our local history by seeking out stories of life and death throughout the region.
The couple was lying lifeless together on the beach near the high water mark at Stony Bay, Port Charles.
In their house the tea things were laid out expectantly on the table but Friedrich, 30, and Charlotte Otto, 28, would not be coming back.
They had last been seen the previous evening, March 11, 1879, about 5.30 by Charlotte’s brother, Bridges Kensington. They were standing under the verandah of their house.
Bridges was on his way to visit his and Charlotte’s mother. Friedrich and Charlotte said they were going there themselves; they were in the habit of making pleasure trips to Mrs Kensington in their boat.
The Kensington family patriarch, Charles Jephson William Kensington, had been born in France, and later managed the Lure Estate sugar plantation his father had owned in Tobago, West Indies.
In 1862, Charles sold the plantation and, with his wife and eight children, set sail for New Zealand on the William Miles. Initially the family lived at One Tree Hill, Epsom, Auckland. Charles then purchased about 13,000 acres at Port Charles, where he moved his family and began milling timber. But by 1866, Charles Kensington had gone bankrupt and in 1868 he sold up. The Kensingtons stayed at Port Charles, however, a visitor noting that Charles resided in a very pretty little clearing with a thriving vegetable garden.

mily remained, some working at the sawmill and living further out at Stony Bay. A year after his death, daughter Charlotte married Friedrich Traugatt Otto – a German sawmill proprietor of Port Charles who had been naturalised five months previously.
When Bridges returned to Stony Bay with his brother Cedric around an hour later he noticed the boat was gone from the beach. He remarked to Cedric that the Ottos had better be careful in landing when they came back as there was a noticeable roll in the bay.
Bridges went home but the following morning he found Friedrich had not turned up for work at the mill. He went to the Otto’s house and discovered he and Charlotte didn’t seem to have returned from visiting Mrs Kensington the previous afternoon.
He guessed that they had stayed the night so he and his brother Henri took a dinghy to Port Charles in search of them, but on their arrival found that Charlotte and Friedrich had not been there the prior evening.
Now very alarmed, Bridges returned with all haste to Stony Bay where to his horror he found the bodies of Charlotte and Friedrich on the beach, about 100 yards from the place where the boats were kept.
The terrible news was relayed to Mr Wright, manager of the mill, who had the bodies taken to Mrs Kensington’s house. The accident cast quite a gloom over the settlement at Port Charles where the couple was much respected.
Charlotte and Friedrich were buried at Port Charles. They had been married just six months.