KAIWHAKA – Work Boat Wednesday
Kaiwhaka was launched in 1937, by W G Lowe, Auckland & was used as a lighter to overseas ships at the port of Wanganui. She was taken over in March 1941 after the last meat loading at the port, which with other smaller ports was closed to overseas shipping as a wartime measure. She sailed to Auckland with a naval crew, converted to a Danlayer, with some mine sweeping gear fitted & commissioned 21/5/41 & given the pennant No T14.
She went to Fiji in March 1942 & worked with the flotilla there laying defensive minefields, until returning to Auckland six weeks later. She made several visits to Wellington, working as a Danlayer there till June 1941, then worked as a minesweeper in Hauraki Gulf to May 1944 when clearing the defensive fields began. Her war service as a Danlayer ended in Sept 1945.
She was handed back to the Marine Department in Nov 1945 & refitted, completing this in March 1946. There were wrangles over compensation as it was claimed substandard kauri was used in her construction and she had a poor hull condition. The matter went to Cabinet and a payment of 50,000 pounds in full settlement was approved July 1947 & she did not return to Wanganui, instead becoming a lighter at Gisborne in 1949, but not sold to them till Oct 1953. The new port there made her redundant in 1967, sold in March 1968 to Tauranga for private use. Sold again, had a helicopter pad fitted at the stern and used in Fiordland venison recovery 1973. To Oamaru in 1974, Auckland 1977, and last heard of in Matauwhi Bay, Bay of Islands in 1986.
Ken Ricketts feels the photo above was taken off Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island. The wartime minesweeping fleet regularly used the island as an anchorage.
Geoff Brebner commented that In the latter part of the 1970’s, she was moored in the upper Tamaki River, with her mast drastically shortened in order to navigate the Panmure Bridges. She was later taken north, and he believes she may have been taken to sea and scuttled.
Can anyone confirm the fate of Kaiwaka?
Thanks to Geoff Brebner, Chris Rabey & Ken Ricketts for the detailed intel & photo