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The return of the Government steamer

Hinemoa to New Zealand after a long cruise \

in search of the missing steamer Kaka nui has, to a certain extent, cleared up the fate of that vessel and also of the barque Assaye,   bound from London to Wellington, which has been missing for months past.

Regarding the cruise of tho Hinemoa, which is of the greatest interest apart from its melan- choly surroundings, the commander, Captain Fairchild, reports that the vessel, after leaving Wellington, headed direct for the Antipodes group, and arrived there on Monday morning, after sixty hours' run. The island was covered with dense fog, but when the sun cleared it away the Hinemoa steamed slowly round it. There was no chonce of landing on the western side, for steep cliffs rise sheer from the water, and a southerly swell lashes against them. 'When the steamer glided round to the eastern side the eyes of all on deck kept a sharp lookout, and the whistle was kept going. A short run brought the Hinemoa in sight of the depot for shipwrecked sailors. There were no signs of life about it,on that cold, raw morn- ing, The whistle shrieked, but there was no response-the island held no human beings. The Hinemoa circled the island and then

anchored to the leeward of it, and a party landed on the beach and examined the depot and all the island. No trace of wreckage or human beings was found, only myriads of penguins on the sloping cliffs, and thousands of albatrosses. All the birds were so tame that a man could push them about with a stick. A gale sprang up, and the glass went down to hurricane point. The steamer remained at anchor three days and thoroughly searched the island. It held nothing but seabirds, cattle, sheep, and goats. The Hinemoa sailed for Bounty Islands, and steamed round them, but there were no shipwrecked people on these bleak islets, bare of vegetation and covered with birds. A party landed, searched the island, and tried to get wood ashore to build a depot, as the old one was destroyed by the waves, though over 100ft. above the sea. The weather was too bad, how- ever, and the Hinemoa sailed for the Ohathams, where she landed a party on the western reef, from which rockets were said" to ascend about the time the Assaye was wrecked. The only signs of wreckage found were pieces of candle and wood. Captain Fairchild questioned the Chatham Island people about the story of the rockets. A young man who saw them was sixteen miles from the western reef. Between it and him was a point of land 80ft. high, so the rocket would have to go up about six miles to be visible to him. He mentioned seeing what he thought were rockets to settlers, and some of them climbed the hill and lit a fire

of kerosine and straw. The night was per- fectly calm. The people on the hill saw a fishing-boat rounding the point. The fisher- men said that one of their party lost a knife in the boat and struck matchnes to look for it, and when the matches burned down threw them overboard. The lighted matches tossed in the air on a calm night might seem like rockets. Rockets from the western reef could not be seen by the man who reported seeing them, and he probably mistook the   matches tossed from the fishing-boat for rockets. ' Quantities of candles and   bales of paper oame ashore on various parts of the Chathams. . The last -thing was a man's overcoat covered with barnacles. Captain' Fairchild is of opinion that the Assaye was wrecked on the Snares. When searehing the Snares he saw in a gulch, unapproachable for a boat, a ship's topmast, gun carriage, decks, and quantities of sperm candles, evidence of a recent wreck. A ship if wrecked on the Snares would not remain there. The gulch mentioned by Captain Fairchild is the only place amidst abrupt 'cliffs where wreckage could cling, and the ourrent setting to the north would carry wreckage to the Chathams. Telegraph poles washed off at The Bluff have drifted to the Chathams in six weeks. If the Assaye had been wrecked on the western reef much of her would have remained on the reef, and the rest drifted into Waitangi. The our- rent in bringing wreckage from the southwards would account for the wreckage being distri-

buted all round the coast of the Chathams. The cruise of the Hinemoa has thrown some light on the fate of the Assaye. There is scarcely any doubt that she went ashore on the Snares, and that her crew were unable to land on the precipitous shores. As far as the Kaka nui is concerned, all that is known of her is that no trace has been found, in spite of the rigorous search on all the islands east of New Zealand.