Wenna (Rangitira)

Wenna (Rangitira)

This 32′ early 1920’s Collings & Bell classic launch would have to be one of the luckiest classics around – a few months ago I gave Rangitira, as she was named then, a big plug on ww as she was for sale on trademe at what was the buy of the year price. Then a few months ago she was ‘adopted’ by Pam Cundy at Whangateau Traditional Boats.

To use Pam’s own words she “pushed through a quick paint job and varnished hatch and mast, now for a new name board to come”. Pam will be reverting to her old name Wenna. She slipped back into the water last week. Looks pretty slick to me & Pam has a great eye for colours.

To read / view photos from her past click this link


Update from Pam Cundy

After several years of watching for a suitable motor boat this felt like an opportune time to purchase. After looking her over with the usual ‘check for …’ And with the usual ‘old boat’ problems the only thing that bothered me was this old girl had seemingly lost her real identity. Fortunately shortly after purchasing her and conducting a search Adrienne and Dave called by with some details and Harold contributed also.

Wenna ( Rangitira) – according to Dave Jackson
Dave identified her as being Wenna – 1940’s to1970’s he knew her to be Wenna.
His friends would say “when are you going to shout?”.
1967-68 Dave purchased her to tow his mullet boat down to the Ponsonby yacht club from Birkenhead.
She had a Morris Commodore petrol engine in her then.
1940’s owner was Mr O’Neil of Ring Terrace Ponsonby. He installed the raised cabin. When Mr O’Neil passed away he left the boat to William ( Bill ) McWhirter.
Bill sold it to Mr Wylie (Jacks father – Boat haulage).

Harold on Wenna
Eric Cathbart Fergus O’Neil of Ponsonby (b.1886,d.1957), engineer, owned Wenna from at least 1925.
“Unfortunately” Harold said, ” I can’t connect her back to Collings and Bell but if Dave J says Collings and Bell, that was good enough for me”.
O’Neil did a lot of game fishing with her in the mid 1920s and 1930s.
In March1930 she was attacked by a big mako off the Great Barrier, splintering some planks and then got free.

Wenna – ” maiden” or “white seas”

Thanks also to Tim Jackson, previous owner
See you at the Mahurangi Regatta!!!
An awesome blog Alan and Harold- Look what it turned up for me : )

17 thoughts on “Wenna (Rangitira)

  1. Pingback: WENNA (Rangitira) | waitematawoodys.com #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news

  2. Hi Harold,
    Thank you for makeing this happen. You do give my brain a good work out with the complications of some of the posts put up but fortunatly I can grasp this for Wenna. I think it very fair to say she is a good ship from St Mary’s Bay.
    Very kind of Margaret Field to provide you with photos, looking forward to seeing this.
    One more sleep!


  3. Hi Adrienne,
    Please thank Dave for this extra information he has passed on.
    Dave speaks very humbly of himself but yeah we all know he is one of the ‘greats’, a very talented boat builder designer. And like my George, he still runs circles around the younger generation. And they can both out fish them too.


  4. All sorts of things have happened since Dave Jackson first provided the link from RANGITIRA to WENNA.
    I have, within the last hour, received a photograph album from Margaret Field of the O’Neill family with a cracking image of WENNA which I’ll scan and post tomorrow with her permission.
    Next, Dave reckons that MARUA was a sistership to WENNA. If so, the upper works are quite different, which is not unexpected as there were several years between the two boats and styles had moved on. But Dave would know if the hulls were from the same moulds if anyone would.
    Eric O’Neill arrived in NZ with his family just after WW1 and lived in Ring Terrace, just above St. Mary’s Bay. If WENNA was built for him around 1925 then a St. Mary’s Bay builder would be the obvious choice. That meant the builder would be Collings & Bell, Leon Warne, Dick Lang (or Sam Ford who took over Lang’s yard in 1923 and used Ford’s moulds until 1924 when Lang returned).
    MARUA was built in 1915 by Peter A. Smith who was an engine supplier and contracted out his hulls to St Mary’s Bay builders. I would pick Dick Lang as the builder of MARUA’s hull, not Leon Warne who was still with Collings & Bell in 1915.
    It’s likely that Dick (or Sam possibly) built WENNA too now that Dave thinks they were off the same moulds. Until then I figured she was built by Leon Warne (having decided against Robinson, who built ALOHA, in the last few days) but would be content with Lang.
    There’s always the possibility that Collings & Bell built both boats but I don’t think they did much (if any) work for Peter A Smith as they were more interested in selling their own brands of marine engines where the greater profit margin lay and weren’t short of their own orders.
    Having said all that, both MARUA and WENNA are typical St. Mary’s Bay-built launches of the period.


  5. Dave, says “Harold could be right……as I’m no authority…..just a simple old boatbuilder”. To address Pam’s question about the builder of the Tram Top it was Cyril Freeman of Ponsonby. He was working for Ship builders at the time, but this job was a “homer”. This was during the late 1940’s maybe even the early 1950’s.

    Regarding the ALOHA – Dave remembers this boat and is thinking on her.


  6. No not at all Harold, I was just gathering some thoughts to write back to you, I felt it was very plausible, well you sounded convincing.
    As you had previously said, you had no firm record of her being a Collings & Bell and being out of the same bay… I was about to write and say “damn your good !!!” and words to the effect of “where would we be without you?” 🙂 And to top it all off “what a romantic thought for our Wenna”.
    All that aside and I think we would all agree we so much need and appreciate your knowledge.
    So you see I spend way too much time here working by myself, and over thinking … 🙂


  7. OOPS I think I’ve shot myself down. The builder of ALOHA was Charles Seymour Robinson (born 1873, died 1949). He had a son Charles, who may have been Wenna Hawthorne’s spouse. Checking, but a bit worried now about my extravagant extrapolation.


  8. Bear with me in a flight of fancy.
    WENNA is a very rare christian name. It’s a contraction of Gwennap, a Welsh name.
    The only lady who was born with that name in New Zealand prior to 1920 was Wenna Hawthorne who married one Charles Robinson in 1923.
    Now (another? the same?) Charles Robinson was the boat builder who built ALOHA at St. Mary’s Bay in 1926.
    It’s a little leap to see him building WENNA for himself c1923 and naming her after his fiancee/wife.
    Collings & Bell were in St. Mary’s Bay too…..


  9. Hi Adrienne and Dave, glad you like her new look. We refer to her as Wenna now. One of her name boards is hung in the boat shed and one is aboard in respect for her years as Rangitira. I shall shape up some new name boards for her soon. George has offered to help with a new hand rail – in two parts, starting from further aft and rolling down at the bow, with a wooden cap. Shall take some ‘eyeing’ to get it right, if indeed it shall suit at all. I shall make a mock up and see. Another summertime job.
    Dave had mentioned the name of the boat builder that put the tram top on her. I wrote it on a block of timber but yeah that’s not always a good idea here. If you could get that off him for her records here would be great.
    We must ask Alan to write her up as an early twentys boat not twenty nine as above. The goal now – to keep her operational, the odd fishing trip out from here and to put in an appearance at the Mahurangi regatta. And yeah once the weather improves we are looking at that zdy only regatta. All launches steam boats and picnicers welcome of course.
    Regards, Pam


  10. Pam, she looks fantastic and I just love her livery. Can’t wait to see her gliding across Kawau Bay. Dave J want’s to know if you are going to revert back to the name “Wenna”.


  11. Hi Grant, kind words thankyou. Glad you like the new look. Just a quick coat of paint to get her through the winter I didn’t like the moisture sitting behind the loose paint. I say quick but ended up taking her back mostly to bare wood. The cabin is fine for now, I shall get back to that and defining the non skid areas in the summer. Very pleasant, rewarding time spent on her. Had to move swiftly on the mast and get it stood back up as George was eyeing it up for his zdy he has just restored. I would like to replace it soonish though as I would like her to carry a little sail.
    We had a good trip bringing her around to Whangateau. Took a run across to Kauwau and then headed off around Takatu, bit of a roll, as there had been a mean southeast blow previously but she pulls herself up pretty quick as you would know. We arrived early to cross the bar, which is generaly in a kindly state, so waiting for the tide to come in we anchored up and put her nose into the swell and caught some fish for dinner. Choosing our route, one that the fisherman use not the other that would have put her side on to the rollers for too long we counted waves and then took a dive for it. George opened her up and off she went catching a wave and shooting us straight and I mean straight through the entrance at Te Point. With her shallow draft we were able to take her up the creek to the boat yard. Awesome little boat, she knows how to take good care of herself. George insisted I get him a bottle of rum for his efforts.
    Do come and see us and her at the yard when you can.


  12. Wow she looks fantastic, well done Pam. Almost bring a tear to my eye. Look forward to visiting next time we are up north.

    (Pam kindly took Rangitira / Wenna from us a few months ago)


  13. I have a little more to her name change and shall hunt this out and write it up.Back soon with that. I had taken some photos of her progress showing a lot of her paint sanded off the top sides – her planking mostly looked tight and in very good nick and found a blue paint job thrown in there from we think her very early days. Dave Jackson a previous owner had her in the lat 60’s early 70 ‘s said he had never known her to be blue. I took her butterfly hatch apart on the work bench and over several evenings shaved 4-5 mm of silvered teak off the outside and scraped the inside back, then reset and resealed the glass in. The hatch and mast made a wonderful recovery.Back shortly with some history we unraveled.

    Sent from my iPad



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