A dawn service and a public exhibition at Eastbourne will be among events marking the 50th anniversary of the Wahine tragedy.
On April 10, 1968, as a fierce storm swept across the country, the ferry Wahine sank in Wellington harbour.
Of the 53 people who lost their lives as result of New Zealand's worst modern maritime disaster, 51 died that day, 49 of them on the Pencarrow coast near Eastbourne.
At 6.30am on April 10, Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace will host a public memorial service at the Wahine Mast Memorial as part of "Wahine 50".
Later in the morning, an exhibition of students' work, memorabilia and photographs from New Zealand's national collections will open at Muritai School in Eastbourne.
Mr Wallace says both events will provide a moving experience.
"The local community was heavily involved in the rescue and recovery effort - people from all over came together to rescue survivors and provide them with warm blankets and shelter," he said.
"The tragedy had an extensive impact on the families of those who died and on the survivors; it affected the Eastbourne community deeply too."
The Wahine 50 commemoration will also include events in downtown Wellington and in the coastal suburb Seatoun.