The note below (edited) was sent to me by Gavin Bradley  &Maggie Mouat, they are the new owners of Otehei & have asked for help from the ww readers. The top 3 photos above show Otehei in Otehei Bay, December 2016. The bottom two above are by Dean Wright (ex K Ricketts). More details here https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/08/28/otehei/

“I recently became aware of the Waitemata Woody’s site which I have to say is an amazing resource and I am loving the daily posts.

I found the site while searching for old images of the Otehei which my wife and I have recently purchased from the El Dorado Foundation. We have had a reasonably long association with the boat, having largely funded it’s restoration in 1996 and therefore have good knowledge of its history.

We are however on the hunt for any surviving design drawings for Otehei and/or her sister ships – Manaaki, Lorna Doone and Zane Grey as we plan to have Otehei surveyed and without design drawings she will need to be surveyed as a novel craft. I was hoping you might be able to put out the question through your daily posts or you may even know of people with connections to the other boats or Collings & Bell.

I have a lot of information and photographs of Otehei, historical, contemporary and during restoration. I also have some interesting memorabilia including the original 1927 Statement of Accounts and Balance Sheet of the Zane Grey Sporting Club showing the build cost of the 4 boats at 500 pounds each! I will share all of this with you in due course.

Incidentally, when Otehei was found on Lake Taupo in 1976 by John Chibnall, she was the M.V. Rangatira not Grace Darling, although she possibly could have been called that earlier. Would be interesting to know…The skipper at the time was Bob Colville.

Any information and images would be gratefully received!”

Updated with photos below ex Gavin Bradley that show some relevant parts of the Otehei story


Flier for Rangatira charter business



As M.V. Rangatira on Taupo as found by John Chibnall in 1976


Relaunch day off Russell 1977

UPDATE from Paul Drake – below are some pics of her at Taupo.

“The first shows her under the crane about to leave Taupo. The second shows her in Boat Harbour (Taupo), skipper Ivan Vickery. In the third, she is on the beach at Whakaiapo Bay, before she was altered by the addition of a wheelhouse. The fourth shows her alongside the “House Boat” (formerly R S S TONGARIRO, BAILEY AND LOWE 1899), again in Boat Harbour, This would have been late 1930’s. She was laid up on the hard during WW2, and the wheelhouse added when she was returned to service.
The third and fourth pic require an explanation. Recently, Taupo Museum ran an exhibition called “Times Past”. An hours worth of historic photos were screened, for 5 seconds each, on a large screen consisting of two parts. Thus the black line down the middle. I clicked away as they scrolled through. I am sure OTEHEI’s new owners will be interested, as the photos may be new to them, as they were to me. Fabulous boat.”





This Is Actually A Very Cool Idea
Russell Ward sent me the photo below & commented that zimer-frame added a new category to the boating progression – P Class > Starling > Young 88 > Farr biggie > Bridge-decker > Motor Home and now a boaty trundler!
I know a few woodys that need one 😉


12-01-2017 – Update ex Gavin Bradley

“I just bought the photo postcard below of Otehei Bay on TradeMe. That boat definitely has the right bow line and 3 portholes…”


14 thoughts on “Otehei

  1. Hi Rob. She’s going to stay in the BOI. Spiritual home. Bloody long hike every time we want to go fishing but hopefully that will enforce some more time out. And a lot more interesting than noodling around Oriental Bay…


  2. Good luck with the MM! Their archival resources have dwindled over recent times, sadly, but I don’t think they’ll have much important C&B stuff anyway.


  3. Thanks Paul. Have contacted Taupo Museum for original images. Am I able to get hi res images from you for a website we are building about Otehei? Cheers for the info. Gav


  4. Thanks Ronald. Very sad to hear that so much of the Collings & Bell history has been lost. Have a request in with the Maritime Museum Archive to see what they have but their library is currently closed for renovation…


  5. Thanks Harold. It’s great to be able to fill in some more gaps. Otehei was ‘rediscovered’ by John Chibnall on Lake Taupo in 1976 as M.V. Rangatira. A trust was formed to purchase her and she was shipped to Auckland by truck and then motored to the Bay of Islands skippered by Tony Butcher. She was slipped at Fullers in Russell, restored and the topsides rebuilt by Fuzz Ellis. She was relaunched in 1977. She came out of the water again in 1992 and was stored for 2 years before the 18 month restoration by Craig McInnes and was launched again in 1996. Very keen to find a picture of her as Grace Darling. Nice name. I wonder if the patent documents would still exist at the Patent Office?


  6. After rereading 2 above, perhaps a further word of explanation is necessary. R.C. Renner of St. Mary’s Bay had the 36ft launch GRACE DARLING from 1924 and was prominent with her as a flag officer of the NZPBA. I think she was built for Renner by Fred Mann. Renner sold her in the late 1920s/early 1930s and I think then he bought OTEHEI which was last recorded in the Bay of Islands in 1931. He then changed her name to GRACE DARLING after his first boat but she became RANGATIRA when he sold her and she was shipped to Taupo on a truck in 1936.


  7. Just to add to Ron’s information;
    1. Charles Collings was very protective about his plans and only a handful have survived, mainly pre-WW1 plans that were published in “N.Z. Yachtsman” magazine. He was ultra-protective of his “concave-convex” planing hull designs like OTEHEI and her clones which, although there was little (if anything) new in them, he patented. Furthermore, both he and his son Alex lectured on these so-called “concave-convex” principles to generations of boatbuilding apprentices at night-school classes.
    2. The real deal on the GRACE DARLING name is that it is simply a canard originating in a mistaken Auckland Star report of 14 February 1936 which confused R.C. Renner’s GRACE DARLING with OTEHEI. I shan’t bore you with the finer details which are of interest only to rivet-counters like me, Nathan and Robin Elliott.


  8. I must compliment all who compile and comment this WW site and wish all a Happy new Year. I would like to comment in general about Collings and Bell boat building. In my research and many discussions with both Alex and May Collings about their business and subsiquent years of May, I am sad to say that when the yard was closed down all the boat plans that were kept to that point were all burnt and that is apart from what actually went with the boats as were built. All names of boats and some stories about the boats were what have been given to me by them both. As I am writing and continually upgrading information about the Collings family boat building and designing book, which I had hoped to produce by now. But the information on Otehei as told by Gavin are all correct and as to what I have been advised is that tghe Grace Darling was an actual person who owned the boat and that she was actually named Rangatira and the time on Taupo I have was 1935 and about 1980 was returned to BOI
    Hope this information helps and am sorry as I have no plans.
    Ron Wattam


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