photo ex Bob W.
The above photo was found at the Waiuku museum the other day and there was no supporting information on the vessel. Can someone throw some light on her for us. Given the ladder on the deck, it safe to assume this was a lake photo.
Update from Paul Drake (mans a legend)
This is a great photo. This is TAMATI at Lake Taupo. Built by Bailey and Lowe (I have seen her builders plate), she still exists under the same name but otherwise unrecognizable at Paeroa. She is a side-wheeler, having been converted at Hari Hari (west coast of the South Island) some years ago. She operated commercially on Lake Ianthe. Prior to this, she languished for many years on a front lawn in Paraparaumu. And prior to this, she was a private launch on Paremata Harbour, north of Wellington. At Taupo in the 1930’s, she operated commercially in tandem with Bailey and Lowe’s TAINUI (destroyed by fire in 1937), servicing a fishing lodge based in Boat Harbour (Western Bay). This fishing lodge was the former steamer TONGARIRO (Bailey and Lowe 1899), which ran a service between Tokaanu and Taupo until 1924. Following her years as a commercial launch at Taupo, and after WW2, TAMATI was altered by local boat builder Jack Taylor, who raised her bow and constructed a new (plywood) cabin, which eventually rotted off. TAMATI operated as a private launch owned by the Butler family. Said to be 28 feet LOA.
Photo below showing TAMATI in Boat Harbour, with the fishing lodge (ex TONGARIRO) in the background, and the Collings and Bell PIRI PONO (now at the Auckland Maritime museum) in the fore ground.
More photos ex Paul Drake
Photos below ex Heather Reeve, friends of current owners Colin & Gloria James
23-01-2018 Input from Clive Field
This is from an email back to Blighty in 2001 — Clive & Jill Field — Two Brits enjoying Aotearoa
For the first time in five weeks, we were on schedule! I should explain that until now we have not been running to any fixed schedule at all.
All was going well when we passed a sign that said Lake Ianthe Historic Paddle Boat trips.
We threaded our way along the jungle edged highway that separates the sea from the mountains to our left. What a mixture of sights sounds and smells to absorb? Then Lake Ianthe came into view.
Modestly advertised with just one well-written roadside tent sign we found the Paddle Vessel Tamati, (Maori for Thomas?) The newly painted vessel is the pride and joy of a former sawmill owner who has ventured out from a business with diminishing returns to capture the tourist dollar. The boat was indeed a joy to behold. Tamati is a paddle wheel conversion of an aged wooden pleasure boat built originally for the Edwardian tourists who thronged to Lake Taupo on the North Island.
David, the saw miller, told us it was built of Kauri planking, which had meant it survived many years afloat, and many more ‘upside down on a bloke’s lawn in Wellington.’ “I bought it and stuck the top on and fitted the paddles… did it all from scratch. I found some stuff on a Scottish Paddle steamer Lady of the Loch on the Internet. It was all trial and error really except luckily we didn’t seem to make any errors. We dropped it in the lake at Christmas and she just floated and went beautifully.”
David’s description of ‘sticking the top on and fitting the paddles’ is the classic understatement of a person with energy, vision and skill. It is yet further evidence of the oft-quoted ‘Kiwi Ingenuity’.
The hull has long sweeping lines. The cabin follows the classic bow fronted paddle steamer wheelhouse. The framing is in a soft salmon pink indigenous wood I think he called Ramaiti. The paddles are ‘feathered’ which means they are cranked in order that they enter the water vertically thereby immediately gaining the maximum grip on the water. Interestingly enough the paddle guards over the paddles are heavy duty clear Perspex. “Why the Perspex covers?” I asked. “Just because I reckon those wheels are beautiful and I wanted to see them going round and round” he smiled.
He was right they were beautiful pieces of engineering in wood, steel and aluminium. We discussed engines and he opened a cupboard beneath the cooker hob and there was a little Japanese diesel powering an hydraulic drive to each paddle.
We helped ourselves to tea and coffee and enjoyed the 45-minute trip around a lake formed by glacial action thousands of years ago. Two black swans paddled their serene way across the lake. David made no mention of them until I pointed out their stately progress. “Yeah, all you Brits mention them. They were introduced in Victorian times I think, but to us, they are a bloody pest. Vermin even. They crowd out the natural species and breed like rabbits… or swans really.”
The lake is edged by natural un-husbanded forest. David explained what to look for to identify such tree cover. “It is all affected by earthquakes you see. We get a real shudderer every 250 years – give or take fourteen years. The mountains just shrug off their tree cover and when they re-generate they all end up the same height. It gives a sort of blanket effect.”
(That explains our earlier candlewick bedspread analogy I thought.)
When we came to rest back at the picnic site wharf we chatted about the boat and the tourist business. “It was a bit sobering really because I wanted to finish the boat for the Christmas holidays I got wound up like a spring working it all out and doing the finishing touches. I thought it was just a case of putting up the sign on the road and I would be packed out… but it is slow starting off.”
We agreed that ‘trips every hour’ was a good way of announcing the fact that the boat went however many turned up.
“What else would you suggest we do?” he asked. We talked about websites and then “What about a steam whistle?” I suggested. “You could power it from a small compressor off the engine and that would announce to all those having picnics up in the car park that things were happening.”
In order to emphasise the point, I mentioned Walt Disney’s first ever cartoon ‘Steam Boat Willie’ starring Mr Michael Mouse.
David’s eyes lit up. “That’s it! He said, “That’s it! Look here, the marine-licensing people said I had to have a horn and I bought these.” He produced a pair of boy racer type twin air horns from under a bench. They were still in the shrink wrap packaging.
“I just haven’t had the heart to fit them, but look, I could use the air pump and get a brass whistle made up.”
We left David to his next passengers and decided that even more ‘Kiwi Ingenuity’ would be applied to the PV Tamati ‘ere long. (He later emailed us with the success story of his compressed air brass whistle)