KAIWAKA – Work Boat Wednesday

Kaiwaka 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

12-11-2019 Input from Peter Grant – While looking through my old negative library, I came across the pictures below,  taken up north in about 2000 of the original “Kaiwaka”.



24 thoughts on “Kaiwaka

  1. I heard a rumour some years back from a reliable but unmentionable source that the Kaiwaka that had been plastered with ferro cement and moored for some time in the BOIs was secretly scuttled off Cape Brett one dark and maybe stormy night.


  2. My grandfather was the 1973 buyer. His brother was the heli-hunter, who sadly passed away when his chopper crashed into a lake. My mothers family had it for a number of years – my dad grounded it (lol) in the Tamaki, and Frank Parker chainsawed the mast to get it under the bridge. Last we knew, grandad sold it in thd mid 80s, the Kauri was in terrible condition so the new owners concreted the hull, which alas didnt save it and it sunk. We’re not sure of the location of the wreck 😦


  3. I had some involvement with the Kaiwaka as featured in the story above. She was moored in the tamaki Estuary at the time. It was owned and skippered by Doug Paul and she did a few freight runs for Orama Trust of Karaka Bay on Gt Barrier Is in 1979 and early eighties. She had a Paxman V8 and went pretty well. It did have a makeshift helicopter pad on the back and two large chilled holds. I believe they used it for venison in the south Island until the helicopter pilot was killed. On one trip to the Barrier she carried 38 tons of cement and 26 tons of concrete blocks plus sundry building products all loaded and unloaded by hand using small boats. I understand Doug took her up North after that.


  4. Yes this is the Kaiwaka we gutted back to a bare hull and rebuilt. It is my understanding she was built in 1952 by Lidgard’s when they were in Beaumont St my old Forman ( Cyril Freeman )at Shipbuilders worked on her along with possibly ( Jack Taylor ) who in the late seventies joined us after Cyril passed away. I will attempt to post some pics of what we had to start with.


  5. Yes, thanks, Taiaroa,- posted very early in the morning. The ship I saw going down the Tamaki River was black, as was Taiaroa when I saw her at the viaduct after her use in the movie. Could have been Kaiwaka (correct spelling according to Victoria University RNZN history) I saw and as this was around a similar time, I made a natural assumption, as the chances of two such small vintage ships being in Auckland at similar times were pretty slim, even in those days! I lived on the waterfront at Bucklands Beach for about 20 years and saw a lot of history go past on the river. Interesting about Subritzkys as we watched a number of their ferries being built at Half Moon Bay. Romo was my favourite tow boat (they used to prop her up and scrub her bum in the bay before the marina was built) and the Jane Gifford was an every day sight back then. The Subritzkys were great at making something out of nothing and seemed to love loud exhausts on the ferries, but I’ve noticed they are all quiet with the new company.


  6. A couple of errors here. Trawler TAIAROA (not Tiaroa) was still in Wellington until 1982 before sailing to Tauranga where she was converted for her film role. After her return to Auckland from Fiji she lay at the Western Viaduct where she was stripped of anything useful before, after a court case, she was given to the Navy who sank her with gunfire in 1989. Her anchor and chain cable had been recycled into Subritzky Shipping’s new ferry M N SUBRITZKY. You are right, she was built by Mason Brothers in 1944 as minesweeper HMNZS WAIKATO T30, but never commisioned into the Navy. She never went up the Tamaki River.


  7. Regarding Kaiwhaka,- there was another ex trawler/dan layer named Tiaroa (numbered WN 176 and later NR49 from what I have been able to find) and this was all steel construction wooden deck (possibly over steel) and was the one which was up the Tamaki river in the 60s/70s. The photo of the Fairmile Kahu at the western viaduct (WW article) which I took in the 80s ? shows Tiaroa on the inside. She was used in the 1983 NZ movie Savage Islands ( or by US name Nate and Hayes, filmed in Fiji and at Urupukapuka Is NZ ) as the Germans’ gunboat, and was severely damaged in the scene where the ship is supposed to be blown up by the good guys. I was told by the on board caretaker at the time I took the photo, that the pyrotechnics guys got a bit carried away and instead of a small explosion with lots of smoke it sort of went a bit the other way partially destroying the wheelhouse and catching fire, as can be seen in the photo. Apparently it was written off under insurance and I believe it was either scrapped at Beaumont street or sunk up north somewhere. Last time I saw it under its own steam was chugging very slowly out of the Tamaki river in the early 80s to be set up for the film. A couple of scenes with this ship for those who are interested are (just search under the title on YouTube – Nate and Hayes the final fight – and under Savage Islands ‘gunship attack’ (good on board scenes) the ‘rivets’ seen on the ship were made of wood and glued on to represent armour plating and a large gun was mounted on the bow. The German built (1911) topsail Schooner ( now a Brigantine) also used in the movie was the ‘Eye of the Wind’ She is still sailing today!


  8. There seem to be two boats confused here. KAIWHAKA was built by W.G. Lowe & Son in 1937 for lightering at Wanganui. She was 98ft loa and is pictured as T14 in the Tudor Collins pic. The seine boat KAIWAKA (different spelling) that attacked LOLOMA in Lucas Creek is a 45 footer. I think she’s the boat that Colin Silby did all the work on.
    KAIWAKA was launched with a 36hp 3 cylinder National diesel and went to Fiji for towing in 1942 as W54


  9. Tudor Collins, who took the photo, lived at Takatu Peninsula in that era & took many images of the region, & boats that lived or visited there, as a whole, & he also loved the B.O.I. & took many in that area as well, however, I have never seen an image I can recall, taken at the Barrier — I have every image that has been digitalised by the Museum, of all boats he ever took, that are in their collection & there are none of the Barrier in that collection. I also have a very detailed knowledge of Bon Accord, like many others, & she is just west of Mansion House Bay, pointing as if to turn to port, by the look of it, to head towards the Motuora Island area. — KEN R


  10. KAIWAKA ended her days broken up /sunk B.O.I. TIRI ex Frankham / Radio Hauraki on Limestone Is. Whangarei. ISA LEI broken up Wharf Rd Te Atatu. KAPUNI ex Frankham / Radio Hauraki
    ( TIRI 2) broken up on Rotoroa Island. Her sister HAWERA (Frankhams) bits of her still exist at Riverlea ,Upper Harbour.


  11. We have done a bit of work on Kaiwaka of late. Murray is quite correct that Colin Silby carried out a VERY extensive refit of her! I have a number of pictures of inside and external including the immaculate 8 cyl Gardiner. There has been bit of a hiccup with some of the work carried out on board post Colins input but I believe he’s onto it!! I’ll confirm with the owners prior to sharing any internal views but will forward some external ones shortly!


  12. Nice ship. I like the name Danlayer – dropped dan buoys I believe to mark mine cleared waters. I do not think the photo was taken at Bon Accord Harbour, more like Port Fitzroy.


  13. There was also a KAIWAKA, a fishing boat, built pre WWII which was similar to DAISY BELLE, WAIWERA, & many others of her time, which as run by the Owens brothers, Jim & Gordon for a good number of years, back in the 1950s/60s, so it could be either of these 2 boats, which has been restored. — perhaps someone will have a pic of the restored vessel as she is now. – KEN R


  14. The waterfront was an interesting place when I should have been at school learning how to go to school.
    I remember having a crawl over Kaiwaka when she was down by Kings Wharf in the ’60s. Not a lot to enthral me but I went into her engine room and remember a huge three cylinder diesel engine -seemed to have separate cylinders on a common sole plate. Petter -manned engine room.
    BTW Isa Lei was seemingly perpetually moored by the Waterfront Industry Commission building. Tiri one side, Kapuna the other side. I heard that she was for sale at a nominal sum and suggested to the old man he buy her…… No.


  15. There was a Kaiwaka moored at the mouth of Lucas creek in the early naughties bit I feel maybe not this large. She took a few hunks out of Loloma one night when her mooring went walkies. I heard this particular Kaiwaka was restored by Colin Silby (?) after being purchased by Warwick Jones about to years ago…. Probably another Kaiwaka.


  16. I remember seeing her at Pt. Fitzroy, GBI in the early 1980’s. She had a 3 cylinder Petters diesel which was air start and direct reversing. She was very basically equipped and in the foc’sle you could see daylight through the planking.


  17. Pure hearsay, but I heard she was broken up.
    I do remember her moored in Matauwhi Bay, and looking pretty neglected


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s