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UFOs in the daily Press:

The "mysterious airship" wave in the New Zealand Press, 1909:

The article below was published in the daily newspaper Otago Witness, New Zealand, Issue 2890, page 33, August 4, 1909.




Reports of mysterious lights being seen in the sky come from so many quarters and from so many persons that it is impossible to believe that all have been mistaken. The pupils of the Wakari School and a lady in the district declare they saw "an object resembling an airship on Wednesday at 5.15 p.m. A resident of North-East Valley says he saw what he believes to have been an airship on the previous Sunday evening. On Thursday, the 29th, quite a crowd of people in North Dunedin, including Mr Beck (Acclimatisation Society's ranger), saw an aerial light travelling very fast in a northerly direction. On Wednesday, the 28th, the lights were seen by many persons all over the district from Kelso to Waipahi and Clinton. Some declare they saw a double light. The Waipahi residents saw the lights again on the 29th, when they appeared to be hovering high over the township. Some residents of Milton aver that they saw the airship on the evening of the 28th, and heard a noise like a foghorn, while others say the noise was like that which would be made by machinery working.

The Clutha Leader publishes a circumstantial account of the airship having been seen about 10 o'clock on the forenoon of July 28 by Mr Allan Mitchell and Mr Alexander Riaeh, while working at Lambourne. It appeared to be approaching them from the direction of Messrs Beggs' place at Pukepito. It was distinctly boatshaped, and appeared to have a pole or mast. It travelled with a dipping and ascending motion, and was apparently under control. It was pretty high in the air, and approached to within about two miles and a-half, when it swerved to the left and disappeared in the direction of the sea at a fairly rapid rate. In the same issue appears a paragraph which implies that a mysterious light seen by some persons with awe and wonder, was explained by a less impressionable companion as being "Jimmy Smith going round his rabbit traps with a lantern." On the other hand, the Free Press states that the airship was seen on two different nights lately by Mr J. M. Begg and Mr Thompson, over Mr Begg's station, travelling in the direction of the Blue Mountains. A Daily Times reporter who lives at Musselburgh reports that about 6.45 p.m. on the 30th he was invited by a neighbour to come and see the airship. He saw a light at a very great height, apparently travelling at high speed, and disappearing in the direction of Central Otago.

The discovery by some young men of the remains of a fire balloon which they saw falling to earth probably accounts for some of the lights seen by Dunedin residents.

It may be added that the Witness office has been inundated with cartoons of all kinds, intended to explain the mystery of the airship and the mysterious lights. In most instances these depict a person under the influence of "John Barleycorn," gazing with drunken gravity at a street lamp or the town clock or some kind of light which no sober individual would ever mistake for an airship.

It was reported from Invercargill that about 200 persons in the streets of Invercargill saw a moving light in the sky on the 28th. It drifted south and then disappeared. The mysterious light was seen on the previous night at Orepuki, having the appearance of the headlight of an engine. It was also seen at Wairio on the night of Saturday, July 24. Some 23 children in one of the Invercargill schools reported that they had seen an airship travelling overhead on the 29th in broad daylight. The Wyndham Farmer reports that a number of well-known Wyndham gentlemen returning from a sale at Tokonui on the 29th twice saw, about 10.45 p.m., a large unusual and altogether an inexplicable blaze of light like a large, full headlight with two smaller lights behind, travelling towards Clinton. The Mataura Ensign carries the story still further back, and reports that Mr R. Stephenson, telegraph operator, and a young man named Moffet saw a moving light over the Wendon Valley about 2 a.m. on the 22nd. It appeared to be approaching them, and then receded. It had an undulating movement. They watched the light for 15 minutes. Two youths at the Bluff are reported to have seen the mysterious lights about 7 p.m. on the 28th. Several reputable Gore residents declare that they saw the lights on the same evening, between 7 and 8 o'clock, making good speed in a south-westerly direction. On the same evening at 10.30 about 40 residents of Mataura township, returning from an entertainment, saw the mysterious light.


(From Our Own Correspondent.)


The airship craze has reached Christchurch and the country districts, and from various parts of the province come more or less circumstantial reports of mysterious lights being seen in the sky. Rangiora, Woodend, Lyttelton, Broken River, Winslow, and Christchurch residents have seen "something" which they cannot explain. The climax was reached last night when hundreds of people on leaving the theatres risked cricking their necks by gazing up at the red planet Mars, which is now approaching the earth, and is extremely bright in the eastern sky in the evening. The few who declared the bright light to be merely a planet were, however, scoffed at by the majority, who were at least certain that it was a fire balloon, though they were quite willing to believe that it might be an airship.

TIMARU, July 30.

A strange light was seen moving northward a short distance from the coast off Timaru on Thursday about 9-20 p.m. It was seen at Temuka by several people at 10.10 p.m., and at Winchester, Geraldine, and Hilton. The report from Geraldine says some boys saw a body of some kind of the shape of a blunt-headed cigar, and two lights.


A good deal of excitement and interest were manifested by the passengers on the Hokitika train approaching Greymouth on Thursday evening when they were informed by the guard that a mysterious light was visible. The engine driver (Mr M'Millan), when approaching the Teremakau bridge, noticed a large light out to sea. It did not remain stationary, but was moving up and down and advancing towards Greymouth Harbour. He and the fireman kept watching it until they arrived at Nelson Creek Station, when the mysterious object came nearer to the shore and descended quite close to the breakers. He communicated with the guard, who at once notified the passengers, and they crowded out to the platform and watched the mysterious object. For a few minutes the object could be seen rising and falling now and then the light was at times obscured, but it came again prominently into view. The object appeared to be making in the direction of the Greymouth bar against a strong wind, and when the tram drew up at the Grey Station the light could be seen heading in the direction of Point Elizabeth. The object behaved in a most mysterious manner, and all sorts of conjectures were made. The object was watched with interest by a large crowd until it disappeared from View in the north. Whatever it was, it created no end of interest in the town.

WESTPORT, July 30.

A resident of the Buller district the other morning at 4 o'clock saw four times a mysterious object floating over Mount Rochfort somewhat resembling a fire balloon, but it was too far off for him to judge accurately what the object was.

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