Sailing Sunday – Ranui

RANUI (this is a long post, keep scrolling down – lots of photos)
Antartic Outpost – Campbell Island 1947
ex Richard Allen ex archives nz
I was alerted by Russell Ward of this  delightful short movie that Richard Allen had posted a link to on the ww ‘Matanui’ post. In Russell’s words – “the movie shows the dear old Ranui taking a load of provisions and workers to the Campbell Islands in 1947. I humbly bring it to your attention as it should be in its own spot rejoicing the daze when men were men and mulleties were mulletiies  and were permanently pis_ed in Mansion House Bay.
Its a celebration of proper sailing men who are not ashamed to smoke fags and drink a beer in one gulp on camera. Before we all got tamed by these sheilas”

I spotted Ranui hauled out at Salthouses a few weeks ago getting her bottom seen to, photos below. On one of her visits to the Pacific Islands she practiced a spot of impact hydrography & while the damage was minor the anti-fouling was scrapped off exposing bare wood which proved too inviting to the worms. Out of the water she is a rather large lady.

Update from Bob McDougall

Below is a photo I took of RANUI on Miller & Tunnage’s slip at Carey’s Bay, Port Chalmers. Dated 15-12-1962, RANUI was in for a refit in preparation for the next oyster season in two months. Her hull lines show well in this photo.

 Photo ex Ian McLean Ranui entering Dunedin – mid 1990’s

Update #2 from Bob McDougall

The Larsen concerned was one of several Norwegian men of the name, who came to Stewart Island in the mid-late 1920s, with the whalers who set up their base, workshops, accommodation etc there — best known now as the Kaipipi Shipyard. The whale
factory ship was the famous C.A.LARSEN.

The man who designed and built RANUI was Captain Korinius Larsen, and information about him, and RANUI, is told in detail in the book “Stewart Island Boats”, published in 2008 by the Rakiura Heritage Trust, P.O. Box 114, Stewart Island, for the Rakiura Museum. This magnificent A4 portrait-format book was compiled from the long-time research and writings of Merv King, who died in 2005.

RANUI and Korinius Larsen references are on pages 119 (incl. a photo of him), 121-122, and 266.

Other references are in: “Kaipipi Shipyard and the Ross Sea Whalers” by J.P.C. (Jim) Watt, 1989. Page refs. 56, 193, 233, 236. His first name may [sic] also be spelt “Karinius” — p.236.

Larsen was assisted by Tommy Bradshaw and others, and construction took place at North Arm, Port Pegasus, between 1928 and 1936. Launch date was 27-10-1936.
When completed, RANUI was sail-only — two  60hp National engines fitted a few years later [well before being taken up for war service in March 1941.]

All in all, a thoroughly interesting little ship with a big history.

Update #3 from Bob McDougall

More RANUI info is in Ian Church’s book “Around The Bay” — about Carey’s Bay people and boatbuilding, published 2007. Pages 95, 98, 99, 108, 110, and 117.
Page 95 records show the “assistant” who helped complete RANUI at Port Pegasus in 1936 was Miller & Tunnage’s Mike Monti of Carey’s Bay. Page 117 records the conversion from laid-up oyster boat to a modern charter vessel, during 1997-1998.

RANUI’s register information:
First registered at Dunedin, No.1 of 1937, 10 April 1937, O/No.142914.
First owner, The Pegasus Fishing Co.Ltd, Invercargill.
First engines: twin screw, two 3-cyl. diesels by National Gas & Oil Engine Co.Ltd, Ashton-under-Lyne, U.K. TOTAL bhp, 60 = 9.5 knots. Therefore, engines installed by April 1937: i.e, 5 months after launching.

Registered dimensions: 66.25ft x 17.65ft x 8.35ft depth. Ketch-rigged.
Tonnages: 56.24 gross, 19.52 net.

Sale 25/5/1939 to James William Paterson [sic?] THOMSON, mariner, of Half Moon Bay, Stewart Island.[the ‘real’ owner]
Sale 10/6/1941 to H.M. The King, in N.Z. Government Marine Dept.
Sale 28/7/1949 to         ditto                 ditto        Ministry of Works.
Sale 14/10/1949 to       ditto                 ditto, Dept. of island Territories.
Register transferred to Wellington 16/12/1949, No.1 of 1950, 11/1/1950.
Sale 28/8/1953 to George T. ELLISON, Otakou, transport operator.
Register transferred to Invercargill 29/10/1953, No.2 of 1953, 3/11/1953.
Sale 18/2/1960 to Otakou Fisheries Ltd, Dunedin.
Invercargill register open, no further owner-changes, as at Feb. 1976.

Subsequent engine, tonnage, etc changes:
The conversion for Island Territories work, by HMNZ Dockyard at Devonport, completed in December 1949 — now 65.54g, 22.97n.

By Feb.1954 — 65.54gross, 18.18net.[conversion for trawl & cray fishing]
1956-1957 — converted for oyster dredging by Miller & Tunnage, at Carey’s Bay. First dredging season, February 1957.
By May 1965 — completion of new engines fitted: two 6-cyl. Gardner diesels, 114 bhp each; 51.63g, 13.07n; no ketch rig now.

Accidents, etc:
17/4/1938 — stranded off Stewart Island. Master – J.W.P. Thomson.
July 1944 — Damaged rudder at Auckland Islands. Ref. Church, p.98.
Nov. 1954 — A mast and boom smashed by CITY OF BIRKENHEAD, (7320gt/1950) at Dunedin.
c.Feb.1960 — Damaged the Bluff (port entrance) lightship beyond repair.
There are sure to have been other mishaps, but I have no record of them.

I see that RANUI was put on Part B of the N.Z. Shipping Register in February 2001, as charter vessel RANUI III, Register No. NZ 654.


24/09/2014 – A reply to the above from Richard Allen – current owner + photos

Thanks Bob, I knew Ian Church but didn’t know his book. I left Dunedin about 1999. Stewart Island Explored is a good one and there is another by Olga Sansom. Also NZ NAVAL vessels has  the chapter attached plus the ships details in the schedule.

I knew Mike Monti, he was about 80 yrs old then and made the tea at Miller and Tunnage in the new shed ((after the old was burned down just after Bryan Ingles sold to his foreman Alvin Smith, about 1985.. The charred Timaru trawler that was inside the shed became the centre piece of a famous Ralph Hotere exhibit called the “rise of the phoenix”.)

He told me Larsen hired 6 of the toughest  guys he could find on stewart island(including Mike)  to hunt thru the bush for grown curved totara for ribs and floors. He told me the toughest only lasted a week and after that Larsen did it all on his own. He was , he said , a “bull of a man, nearly as wide as he was high” .

Eric Chester a long time Otakau fisheries engineer found the original “Browns  Tele motor & Steam Tiller co  of Edinburgh”  steering wheel  still on her now.

Chris Spiers  first job as apprentice at Miller and Tonnage was to rip out all the red carpet brass and mahogany from her time as the official government ship . His second job was helping cut up two totara telephone poles used to make her rolling chocks (or bilge keels) .

I bought her over  the phone while I was in Savannah in 1996  with NZ Yachting team(Tornado). She used to be moored right next to my Fishing Trawler ELAINE , 39 ft 6 in , also a 1924 double ended Miller and Tonnage barracuda boat. So I knew her well when I was a commercial fisherman and always thought she would make a safe husky expedition boat.

Its maiden sail after the Miler and Tonnage refit in 1999 was a grade 3 oceanic search we did for the RSCC to Antipodes Islands to find well known sailor Gerry Clark and the Totorore, see newspaper article attached. Also see the article I wrote about that trip published in Boating NZ on

The Gardners were not powerful enough (only 6 LW’s) so the Detroits were put in in 1977, rebuilt 1999 by Wilson bros.
She swings two 40 in x 24.5 3 blade props through 3:1 Allison hydraulic boxes. The Detroits are a matched set opposite turning.

Ranui has now taken our family around the Pacific and Southern Ocean many times  and she’s never scared anyone. I guess we are up over 75000 miles. Now she carries about 2900 sq ft of sail with all set, including mizzen staysail.

Incidentally , when looking through her survey papers I found the Invoice from Naval Dockyard to Minister of Finance for 13000 pounds. The minister wrote back to the Naval Superintendent querying the bill , saying they paid 3000 pounds to buy her , could have built a new one for 9000 pounds…, but I’m told it was classic Navy with a Rum Locker , Paint locker and all!  .But I now know how the Minister felt. Salthouse’s are doing a meticulous and loving job on her hull right now, including complete recaulk, fastenings inspected all ok ,( 5 in copper dumps in perfect condition), new starboard belting, new garboard, refurbished rudder, shafts, bearings , steering, repaint with 8 coats International etc etc

I just ripped off the last of the muntz metal the Navy put on her , some 64 years later….

Click the photos to enlarge

Photo below  – Probably in the late 40¹s when Capt Noel Worth was skipper at Port
chambers wharf

Ranui during a ‘bad hair’ (ugly) period. Photo ex Ross Walker, taken in Bluff approx. 20 yrs ago. Ranui is arriving back after a day on the oyster bed.

19 thoughts on “Sailing Sunday – Ranui

  1. The above is accurate as I understand it. My Great Uncle Bill (James. William. Petersen.Thomson) established the Pegasus fishing company and it was for this he built the Ranui. I was told he used to fish in the fishing grounds near the Snares Islands. It was requisitioned for the war effort and never returned. I understood there was no financial consideration ever.
    I think it is wonderful that this boat is so cared for and loved. My mother, Joan McKellar, with her family, spent many days and enjoyed lots of trips on this vessel. She said to me, before she passed away, that she had a wonderful childhood… Stewart Island being her home.

    Jim Turner


  2. Just having another look at this posting of the Ranui, in particular the photo of her taken at Port Chalmers with the NZSCo. steamer Hororata on the other side of the wharf. This photo must have been taken sometime in the late 1930’s as the Hororata was sold in June 1939 and renamed Waroonga. A second Horarata was launched in 1942 but did not have the raised foc’sle that the earlier ship had.


  3. Thanks for this site, my Uncle Alastair Duthie was on the Ranui at the start of WW2 and told us many tales. Since then I’ve spotted it as an oyster boat, in Careys Bay with no superstructure, and then in Avarua, Rarotonga, looking superb. Lovely to see the old lady sailing on.


  4. Thank you Richard for continuing to make Ranui such a magnificent vessel. Those of us who have the pleasure of owning small wooden yachts/launches can I feel only admire your commitment and willingness to put in the financial effort into such a large and superbly built vessel to keep her in the excellent condition you have her today. Her numerous transformations over her life have given us with all the documentation a fantastic opportunity to see her many lives and her new life under your administration brings in I trust a long lasting and rewarding chapter. Thank you for the effort in maintaining such a vessel to such a high standard.We are lucky that she is in the hands of a very caring owner.


  5. Pingback: Sailing Sunday 19/10/14 – Ranui |

  6. Too many brown faces have been lost in the name of war – the casualty rate for the Maori Battalion was something like 70%. A whole generation of young healthy men were either killed or scared for life.
    If you want to view a haka that gives me goosebumps when I watch it – check out this youtube clip of the return of the 3 kiwi solders killed by the Taiban to Burnham Army Camp.


  7. Its a great movie.Very interesting.On top of that the movies from Govt.archives just carry on.I spent a few hours watching and you can it seems go to and see more.The return of The Maori Battalion after the war to a huge welcome on the wharf by Maori tribes with Traditional welcome and singing and dances is fantastic……It left me feeling that Hone Harawira should have used that in his failed bid for re election rather that ….$#@&$% and people would have seen the wonderful background to why the people want some say in our politics.


  8. She was a Coastwatch Supply Ship during WW2.
    Ranui was built for and by her owner/master Captain James Thomson (built by Larsen and Thomson) of Stewart Island at Port Pegasus in 1936. Two 60hp diesels. [Who was Larsen and was he the origin of her nordic lines?] Worked in the fishing industry around Foveaux St and Fiordland freighting fish to Bluff and some tourist work. Requisitioned March 1941 and modified to be used to carry supplies equipment and personnel to the remote coast watch stations. Operated with great secrecy and “cover” reasons by the Aerodrome Services Branch of the Public Works Dept. Coastwatch services ended in 1945 and Ranui was transferred to the PWD February 45 and used to service the met stations as seen in this film. Taken over 1949 by the Island Territories Dept and overhauled at the dockyard 1949-50 for Cook Islands trading. Sold to Dunedin for fishing 1953 and converted to a Bluff oyster dredge 1956-7. Lucky to have survived -only a Viking ship will thrive in those tough seas. I’ll see if the Workboat Study Group have any early pix of her oyster days. Most of the above was drawn from NZ Naval Vessels by Bob McDougall.


  9. Realy enjoyed this. Thankyou for bringing it together in one post.
    Does anyone have a recent photo of how she looks out on the water these days? She’s looking real beaut in behind the cover there and I’m dying for a better look.


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