Tamati

 

TAMATI
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)

 

25 thoughts on “Tamati

  1. You will only need the beach umbrella on the ship to get to Motuihie tomorrow, a great saving in Diesel.

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  2. The tramtop on a dee front cabin is rather unusual and was undoubtedly put on later. Otherwise her configuration is standard Bailey & Lowe of the period 1910. As john two dogs says below, a “sidewheeler” is a paddle steamer with twin paddles, one each side, as distinct from a “sternwheeler” which has a single paddle astern, like the Mississippi river steamers.
    Walter Bailey would have a fit if he could see her now.

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  3. Getting back to the original photo, I think the person in question is a male. It look like he’s wearing what they called plus fours, popular with golfers of that era. Although his hat isn’t in full view, I’d say by the strappings at the front that it’s a desert hat. He certainly appears to be rather protective of the girl – and she doesn’t want a bar of him!

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  4. Yes, the nearest thing to an old steamer is the (ex-Kerikeri) “Ernest Kemp” which only looks like one.

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  5. I think it’s a ladder too. Commercial launches in the Sounds, particularly the Pelorus and its offshoots, used to carry ladders for use where there were no wharves.
    The modern photos above show the side-wheeler configuration; one paddle-wheel each side amidships, as opposed to a stern-wheeler with only one paddle-wheel at the stern.

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  6. RMS TONGARIRO was hauled ashore on the western shore of Taupuaeharuru Bay about 70 years ago and was quite a landmark for a long time. Known to locals as “the house boat” as in “caught a good fish at the houseboat this morning”. She slowly rotted away and is no more.

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  7. Hi There.

    As a recent (& now avid) reader of the fascinating posts to this site, I was very intrigued by today’s post and its mention of Tamati’s days on Lake Taupo, especially learning about RMS Tongariro.
    We had a weekend in Taupo 2 weeks ago and wondered why the lake doesn’t have an old steamer plying it a la the TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu.

    Wondering what had happened to RMS Tongariro I went looking online, and found very good bios of both her, Tamati & Tainui at: http://www.promotionalart.com/History_Taupo_Boats/boats_t.htm

    FYI, my interest in WW stems from my wife’s father (Ted Carr) having built & raced 18 footers on the Waitemata in the ’30s, his boat being one of the team which competed in Sydney in 1938.

    Cheers, Les Elmer

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  8. I wonder if she was built as TAMATI? The earliest ref I have is 1929 and she’s quite a lot earlier than that. Between 1948 and 1958 H. J. Butler of Taupo was a member of the RNZYS with her so she probably wasn’t used for hire during that period as the Squadron would have frowned. She then still had her Sterling engine, confirming that she was probably built by Bailey & Lowe.

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  9. 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. Photos to Alan shortly!

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  10. Is that actually a male? That’s a curious trouser arrangement if it is – unless he’s wearing some baggy culottes. Could be a full sailed old battleship crowding the younger gal.

    Either way, the body language is interesting.

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  11. I cant see a ladder Alan? Do you think that guy could sit any closer to the girl?
    I like the look of Tamati she’s a Pam boat, it shall be nice to hear her story.
    and do you think the couple stayed together through the years ?… Or did they just go fishing?
    P

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