Wahine disaster: Heroes recognised 47 years on

Wahine disaster: Heroes recognised 47 years on

Forty-seven years after the Wahine disaster, three men have been recognised for their role in saving more than 80 lives when the ship ran aground in a severe storm in Wellington Harbour.

Despite police telling them to stay away, the three men launched their boat from further along the beach and were the first private boat on the scene.

The boat was sailing into one of the worst-recorded storms in the country's history.

With 734 passengers and crew onboard, the Wahine capsized near Steeple Rock at the mouth of Wellington Harbour.

Jimmy Toulis, crewmen Billy Bell and Colin Athea, went against police orders and launched their boat and proceeded to assist with the rescue of survivors in spite of weather conditions.

Their selfless act meant they were aboard the first private boat to the scene and credited with saving the lives of 85 people.

Story talks to the men who are now being recognised for their life-saving efforts and finds out how the experience affected them.

Watch the video for the full Story report.