The Russians are Coming!

Late nineteenth century was fearful time for British colonies in the South Pacific, especially in the wake of Britain's wars with Russia. One such report of a Russian attack in New Zealand led to widespread panic among its citizens. 

David Luckie, editor of the Daily Southern Cross. 

David Luckie, editor of the Daily Southern Cross. 

In the 1870's, the British Crown colony of New Zealand was fearful of a Russian invasion, more so due to the fact of recent conflicts seen between Russian and British forces in Crimea and Afghanistan. At the time there many reports of Russian warships scouting New Zealand waters on unannounced endeavours.

In 1873 a New Zealand newspaper (The Daily Southern Cross) reported that Russia and Britain had just declared war with each other and that the Russians had landed and were invading Auckland. The report detailed that the Russians had arrived on the Russian ship Kaskowiski (Cask of Whisky), in the main port of Waitemata Harbour. The Russian ground forces had landed and they proceeded to capture the local armoury and all telegraph stations in the region. The report also included details of Russians pillaging the town and had even taken the mayor hostage, demanding a ransom to be paid.

The citizens soon learned that the newspaper report was in fact a hoax, although many had fled the town in fear of their own safety, before they even learned the truth of the matter. The citizens weren't entirely happy with the editor' (David Luckie) attempt to raise 'Russian' awareness, where the office of the newspaper was besieged by angry citizens.

The article did include many clues that it was in fact a false story, including the published date of the article was three months in the future.

It wasn’t long before New Zealand installed batteries along the coast in fear of a Russian invasion though.