photos & details from Geoff Brebner

This old ship has a long history. Unsure of the dates but she was built by Joe Fell on the Hokianga and was owned by Bert ( H. A. ) Subritzky for many years. She is pictured at Rawene in the 1950’s, that is Bert Subritzky you can see at the wheelhouse door. Bert moved to Auckland in 1956 with Awaroa and the barge Maggie and set up Tamaki Water Transport at Pakuranga, later becoming Subritzky Shipping Line.

Awaroa is still alive and well at Thames in a ‘berth’ on the Kauaeranga River just downstream from the road bridge going into town.

Thames has a interesting collection of old launches – Inverness, now firmly hemmed in by the rampant mangroves. She was formerly Awhitu and Geoff recalls her as a passenger launch on the Manukau Harbour. Geoff worked for Subritzky for a number of years mostly on the vehicular ferries and became very familiar with the wooden Romo and Maro.

07-01-2016 photo of Awaroa at Manaia, Coromandel ex Peter Croft. Those windows would have to win the TV1 and TV2 award e.g. widescreen TV’s 🙂


17-10-2018 Input from Geoff Brebner -, who sent in another photo, below, of Awaroa, seen here recently in Thames. She is powered by a 4cyl. Ford diesel.

Awaroa 003


12 thoughts on “Awaroa

  1. Interesting to read about the Awhitu, after I casually came across it. I travelled on her from Onehunga to orua Bay in the late ’40’s for a family holiday (Johansens Boarding House)


  2. At one time in my life I was running “Opaia” at Whangarei doing harbour towing and barging product from Limestone Island to various places. This was when the Marsden Point Refinery was being built and then the work flowed on to the Ruakaka Power station.Ivan Frost arrived up from Auckland with “Aotearoa 2” to do fishing and party work and then Bert Subritzki turned up with “Ena D” . I had a bit of an edge on them though, I had laid a mooring at Ngunguru so my parties just had a short drive over the hill and we were away to the Poor Knights where those other two had a painful grind, up and down the harbour.I don’t think either of them saw the summer out. Ivan later owned Faulker ferries “Waitere” and moved up to Russell with her.
    “Waitere” was built with an English “Atlantic” engine which was not really a success, very lacking in power so at the first opportunity Charlie F tossed it and dropped in a 4-71. She wore out several of those and when they became hard to get in went a 6-71. which she most likely still sports today.


  3. I knew the Awhitu well when she was owned by Glen Tomich at Tauranga, I did a few relieving runs for him. She was the cream-passenger ferry to upper Matakana. She was extensively rebuilt by Willie Oliver in the mid 60’s when she failed survey.Thats when she got the bigger wheelhouse.The engine was a 4-71 GM. While that work was being done he had “Nancibell” on charter from Harbour Transport.(Eddie Williams who about then had picked up his new build “Edward G” from Darcy.Gilberd in Whangarei.
    Brian W. has a couple of before and after pics of Awhitu on his website.


  4. Geof, I would love pic of AOTESROA II as she is now as she was part of my life when she ran the night launch ferry services in Auckland to Devonport etc., & also ran to Kawau in the 50s 60s. We knew Eric Harrison well, who ran her at that time, & I have pics & movoe footage of her in that era also in the 80s if you’re interested in copies, & if you like, just drop me an email at


  5. I understand she also was at Tauranga working Matakana Island at some time in her career. I have been aware of her here since I first moved to the area over ten years ago and have not known her to have moved in that time. She has a 671 GM in her. I shall take my camera & machete and get some pictures. A stones throw from her is ex-ferry AOTEAROA II. Likewise, launches APACHE, NGARIMU and RATA also reside here. Would love to own her (RATA)


  6. Good news about AWHITU. She was built by Dick Lang in October 1925 for the Manukau, C.W.White first owner and had a Stearns 45hp 4 cylinder originally, replaced in 1929 with a Fairbanks Morse diesel.


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