Call for volunteer divers to help survey the HMS Buffalo shipwreck

Kia ora,
We are advertising for volunteer divers to participate in an upcoming maritime archaeology project, 'HMS Buffalo Re-examination Project', located in Whitianga. No archaeology experience is necessary. Please feel free to distribute this email or the attached PDF through your channels. Places are limited. Additionally we can be contacted through our Facebook page (  - give us a like and a follow!

Re: Call for project diving volunteers

The HMS Buffalo Re-examination Project aims to complete a detailed site survey to provide an accurate interpretation of the wreck site and its current underwater environment. Simultaneously, the project will increase awareness of maritime archaeology both locally and nationally through the engagement with the Mercury Bay Museum, schools, and local and national agencies.

HMS Buffalo (ex Hindostan) was built in India in 1813. Soon after its completion, the Royal British Navy purchased Hindostan renaming it HMS Buffalo and repurposed it several times as a transport, timber carrier, quarantine storeship and an immigrant ship travelling between England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In 1840, Buffalo was caught in a storm and became a complete loss. The wreck site now lies 50 m off Buffalo Beach, Whitianga. The shipwreck is a protected archaeological site under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.

The underwater component of the project aims to:

1.      survey and accurately map the exposed hull structure of HMS Buffalo on the seafloor and to update existing archaeological site records to be used for future management and public interpretation.

2.      record the site using both manual and modern digital recording techniques to ensure detailed site observations and measurements are combined to produce a scaled site plan and a 3D digital model.

3.      sample exposed hull materials to reveal new information on the vessel's construction and to create a material reference catalogue to assist with provenancing existing Buffalo museum collections.

Fieldwork dates are scheduled for 26 to 28 February 2021. Participants are required to arrive in the afternoon of Friday 26 February to attend a short training session followed by welcome drinks and bbq (time of training TBC). Participants are also required to commit to all dates for fieldwork. 

Lunch and snacks will be provided on both 27 and 28 February. All other costs (breakfast, dinner and accommodation) are to be covered by the participant. Note - this is not a paid position.

We are looking for enthusiastic people who have existing diving experience and would like to learn new underwater archaeological skills. No prior archaeology experience is necessary, however, existing skill sets in underwater photography, underwater survey methods and underwater detailed drawing will be highly welcome.

Participants are required to supply all their own SCUBA equipment. Please ensure all equipment is in service. If you require dive gear, hiring of gear is possible through Dive Zone Whitianga. Tanks and air refills are supplied and covered by the project. Additionally, it is expected you have the appropriate certification and medical clearance. Diving is at your own risk.

This project is designed to engage with the diving community to create a fun and exciting fieldwork to showcase a significant piece of New Zealand's maritime heritage. If you think this is you, we would welcome your participation. There are limited places. Please fill out this form to express your interest

Closing date for expressions of interest is COB 9 February 2021. We will then be in contact to confirm your participation. Please note dates may change according to any announcements made on Covid-19 alert levels.

Ngā mihi nui,
Kurt Bennett, Matt Gainsford and Rebecca Cox
Project leaders
HMS Buffalo Re-examination Project