The Zuleika shipwreck and cemetery are on the east side of Palliser Bay, on the south coast of Wellington province. The ship struck rocks about 6km west of Cape Palliser.
The Zuleika was an Iron ship which sank in 1897 on a voyage from Dunedin to Wellington. It was caught in a gale and ran aground in Palliser Bay near Cape Palliser on April 16. Of the twenty one men on board, eight including the Captain survived, another eight are buried in the grave near the beach where they were washed ashore, another was buried in Dunedin and the remainder were not found.
From the book "Nga Maharatanga o Wairarapa — The Past Around Us", published in 1991, by Catherine Morrison:
On the lonely windswept coast of Palliser Bay flowers grow on a large, single grave:
It is a memorial for the 12 crew men of the 23 year old iron ship the Zuleika which ran aground on April 16th 1897. It is reported that there were 21 men on board. All the deck fittings were swept overboard and the crew took to the rigging. Tremendous seas were running and the ship suddenly went under. Those who could swim made it ashore. The rest clung to the wreckage. All that was reportedly left the next morning was a piece of the forecastle. Wreckage was strewn over 3 kms of beach.
Nine bodies were washed up among the wreckage and eight were buried in the mass grave, the ninth was forwarded to Port Chalmers to be buried in a family plot. Three bodies were never recovered.
For many years the grave was left unattended, but in 1977 the Featherston County Council tidied up the site and placed new railings around it.
At the end of 1978 a plaque "Sacred to the memory of 12 of the crew of the ship Zuleika wrecked April 1897" was also renovated.
The Evening Post receiving the news of the sinking by carrier pigeon from Martinborough and reported that this was the first time that news had been received in this way. The Post recorded the hero of the day was a young cabin boy on his first trip to England. He rescued several of the nine survivors but vowed he would never to to sea again.
Although there have been many shipwrecks in Palliser Bay and many sailors drowned the Zuleika Graveyard is the only marked graveyard in the region.
Thanks to Adele Pentony-Graham for this information