From the early 1800s sailing ships had appeared in the Kaipara looking for kauri logs suitable for making spars. This painting depicts a typical barquentine, similar to the Waitemata, loading Kauri logs destined for Australia. This jetty was one of many along the Northen Wairoa in Kaipara Harbour.
In 1879 the first ship was recorded sailing over the bar. As the Kaipara developed and timber mills flourished, timber (both sawn and logs) and kauri gum were all carried by ship. At the height of the timber trade as many as twenty-six ships left the harbour on one tide in the course of a day, all carrying timber from mills around the shores of the harbour.
Of the thousands of ships that came in and out of the entrance, at least forty-five were wrecked, the remains of some of them showing up from time to time in the shifting sands.