The New Zealand Herald In December 2016 published a claim by author Ian Wishart that he had debunked the theory that a distant and grainy photograph of a woman seen at Mary’s Bay, Pelorus Sound might have been Olivia Hope. Now Wishart’s theory has been extraordinary debunked by Maritime Research Group and who, following a request by The Herald seeking comment on Wishart’s claim, has provided the following evidence.
Wishart told the Herald he had identified the boat belonging to Bruce Farley, owner of a Nelson based cleaning company, and the woman on the back as Farley’s then wife.
Farley had told the Herald he had seen the photograph that had been used to advance the MaritimeResearch Group’s theory but he was convinced the woman on the back of the dinghy was his then-wife.
However in a dramatic turnaround Farley has now reluctantly admitted that he made an error and accepts the fact that he didn’t own a runabout on 5th January 1998, having purchased and registered his boat and trailer more than two months later on 17 March. Maritime Research Group who have researched this matter have obtained a signed statement provided by Bruce Farley confirming these facts.
Question: Who was the young girl in the photograph?
Two witnesses, John and Karen Futter who saw the runabout pass close by them in Pelorus Sound on 5th January 1998, in a 2005 Close Up programme (You Tube) confirmed that the young couple were in their teens or early twenties. Karen Futter told the Maritime Research Group that the young female she saw was very slim, a teenager with long blond hair blowing free. Neither the three scruffy individuals nor the lightly dressed young couple on board even looked at us and waved as they went past which was very strange and completely out of character for boats passing closely in the Sounds. They sat uncomfortable with their hands behind their back as if tied.
Maritime Research Group have confirmed that they have recently exercised new software and have enhanced the identification markings seen on the hull of the runabout in the original distant and grainy photograph.
Published by G Jenness, Auckland
Enhanced photo of runabout
Identifying markings on runabout (click image to enlarge)