Story compiled by Alan Houghton from info ex Diane Hopson (daughter of original owner Les Ravenhall), photos ex Diane & Ken Ricketts
The building of Hukarere, which means ‘foam driven by sea’, involved two key people; Mac McGeady who built the hull & her owner Les Ravenhall, a builder who spent his summer holidays outfitting her. Ravenhall was assisted by his two brothers Ron & Wilf. His three daughters – Diane Hopson aged 11 at the time & her elder sister aged 13 & the ‘baby’ aged 3 were all involved as well. In the summer of 1948 New Zealand was in the middle of a Polio epidemic, so school was out for an extended period, giving the daughters a lot of free time to help out.
It’s said that McGeady based the hull on a Chris Craft design that Ravenhall saw in an American magazine in 1948 (refer clippings below).
Diane recalls the hull arriving & being placed on the front lawn, neighbors in those days must have been a lot more accommodating than they are today as Ravenhall worked night & day outfitting her. Diane recalls that the engine was already installed when the hull arrived. The work must have been undertaken at a cracking pace as the hull arrived in early December 1948 & she was launched at Okahu Bay on Anniversary weekend 1949. Diane says she leaked like a sieve & they had to work the bilge pump the whole way to Islington Bay on the maiden voyage. The building process & this first trip set the scene for a lifetime love of the sea & the boat for the entire family.
A few years after launching (c.1954/55) Ravenhall decided to rebuild the deck house & add a flying bridge. This gave Ravenhall direct door access to the engine room under the flying bridge rather than having to pull up the floorboards of the main cabin. At this time he replaced the original Lees Marine petrol engine with a Perkins diesel.
The Ravenhall family used to spend every weekend aboard, from Labour Weekend to Easter, and all summer holidays. In the winter she was hauled up into the family boat shed in Ngapipi road for maintenance. The boat shed had been in the Ravenhall family for years – originally owned by Diane’s grandfather – Chas W Ravenhall who owned the launches Silver Spray and Ismay.
Hukarere was invited to take part as a patrol boat, when the Gothic came into Auckland Harbour, for the Royal visit. Diane recalls being anchored out in the Rangitoto Channel for about 8 hours in a rough sea, a day she & the family did not forget. For many years Hukarere was designated the NZ Herald press boat for the Auckland Regatta (refer photos with ‘Press’ burgee flying). In this role she was often involved in rescuing the little racing yachts when the wind was just too much for them.
As a result of changing family circumstances the descision was made to sell the boat in 1960 & buy a beach house. Hukarere had a new owner at Waiheke Island where she was moored for a number of years.
As always interested in what became of her post 1960 & where she is today.
30-06-2015. An update from Ian Rawnsley (great son-in-law of Chas Ravenhall)
Last week, my wife (youngest daughter of Les Ravenhall) and I went down to the boat sheds on Ngapipi Road to check which shed used to house Hukarere and, thanks to Glenn Burnnand, we were able to establish, as believed, that it was shed 15.
The last time that we saw Hukarere was in March 2000 when, by sheer chance, on a visit to Waiheke Island, we saw her in Matiatia Bay and was owned by a bus driver.
I understand that it has been sold several times since then.
11-11-2015 Photos Added Below
The photos above show the arrival of Hukarere at the Ravenhall family home in Mission Bay. Seen are the 3 Ravenhall sisters (Diane, Barbara & Briar) & a mix of uncles and neighbours on hand to supervise & admire. Photos ex Ravenhall family via Ken Ricketts.
Post by Diane Hopson (edited by Alan H)
How great to find news of our old family woody, the Hukarere.We had some wonderful times on her. Sad to know that she nearly ended her life at Bucklands Beach. We lived in Howick up to 1962 before going to live in Invercargill so guess that the Bucklands incident happened after 1962 as Dad, Les Ravenhall who owned and built her, never mentioned it to us. Would love to know where she is now.
I will bring it to her attention Alan and Angus – I see what you mean. Definitely looks like 2 different launches in those photos and not just the “before” and “after” the alterations
Yes Murray that was Eric and Nell Ravenhall – another brother,. They didn’t have any children. The other three brothers Les, Ron (my father) and Wilf all lived in Selwyn Avenue, Mission Bay.
Hi Alan, for what it’s worth, at some time late 70’s early 80’s Hukerere was owned by Ray Tregonning of Wright Machinery, Auckland, and moored in upper Tamaki River.
Hi Angus, I emailed Diane Hopson, Les Ravenhall’s daughter & got the below reply;
” Hi Ken
We used to often meet up at Motuhie (sic) on a Sunday for good family fun. I am pretty sure that it is the Faye but would to swear to it. If it isn’t the Faye why would I take such a picture. On our boat – this was taken from the foredeck are my sisters, my Mother and Dad and school friend. It i s (sic) definitely our boat that this pix was taken from.
not at all I far prefer the newer! Less cheap looking
I lived opposite a Mr Ravenhall for many years in Hopkins cres Kohimarama don’t think he had any children possibly a brother of the owner?
Ok. What a terrible shame, it was a gorgeous shapely cabin.
“…Ravenhall decided to rebuild the deck house & add a flying bridge….”
Pretty obvious that it’s the same hull with new cabin as per story?
There are 2 of the 3 Ravenhall daughters following ww so it will be interesting to see their feed-back. I know that Diane was actively involved when most of the work on the boat was being done so we should get good feed-back. AH
There’s more than one boat in these photos. The top press boat and the Kawau/Motuihi photos are the same but don’t match the three girls per flybridge photo. Differences:
Hight of main windscreen. Legs dangling over indicate height difference. Forward hatch flat in one and v pitched in the other. Mast in pre flybridge photos foredeck stepped cf cabin stepped. Forward side cabin window elongated on kawau/ Motuihi boat cf three girls. Rubbing strake forward starts at different heights and aft cabin windows in pre flybridge photos are different.
01-07-2015 Input From Gilbert J. Littler
About the good ship Hukarere. I believe this launch was owned by the Felts family of Bucklands Beach during the 1960s. She went ashore and was holed while trying to get on her cradle to be hauled at “the rocks”, located between Big Bucks and Little Bucks. Before the present reclaimation, both launches and keel boats were hauled here during the winter months. I was one of the gang from Chas. Bailey & Sons who patched her up for towing to Bailey’s yard in Beaumont Street. Harry Pope was in charge of operations and Bryce Subritsky towed Hukarere around to the yard. It proved to be an interesting job over the winter months.
The photo showing Julian’s MONA’S ISLE is at Motuihe, not Kawau.