Harold and I have finally sorted the mystery of Matatua (well it was only a mystery to us, the rest of the world couldn’t care less 🙂 ).
Matatua was built as a 33-foot ketch by Roy Lidgard in 1938 at their yard in Freemans Bay Auckland for C.T. Jonas who originally named her Landfall.
NZ Herald 13/8/1938 has a photo of her on page 12 being built ‘for C.T. Jonas’.
Landfall was launched 19/11/1938 and described as an ‘auxilliary ketch’ 33ft overall, 26ft on the waterline with 9ft 6in beam. She carried 600 sq ft of sail and it was reported that her owner intended making a cruise to the islands at the end of the 1938-39 season.
From then on, no more mention of Landfall and it appears that C.T. Jonas and his co-owner Harry Gillard, renamed her Matatua quite soon after launching.
The ketch Matatua first appears in print in February 1939 racing with other boats in the Lidgard employees picnic from the Freemans Bay slipway to Motuihe. She raced regularly with RNZYS and RAYC for the rest of the season. Her registration number was B-9.
The ketch rig clearly wasn’t a success because in September 1939 the NZH 26/9/39 reports ‘aux yacht Landfall owned by C.T. Jonas which made an appearance last year under ketch rig has been converted into a cutter’. This reference to Landfall is odd because she had been named Matatua since at least the beginning of 1939, but maybe they were just making the connection back their earlier articles.
In the winter of 1940, yet more improvements.
NZH 2/7/40: B-class yacht Matatua owned by C. Jonas has had 2ft 6in added to her counter by Lidgard Bros. OA length now 35ft 6in and will enable carrying a permanent backstay,
NZH 9/12/40: Photo of Matatua with her new cutter rig, B-9 on the sail.
The war intervenes and Matatua ceases racing.
During this time the Auckland yacht registration records, probably having been moved about or in storage during the war, had fallen into disarray. By the time a new list is published in July 1946, Matatua has been registered twice, first by Harry Gillard, who retained B-9, and again by C.T. Jonas who got a new number B-24. The error was picked up and B-24 lapsed but it remained in the official lists for a couple of seasons until another purge of obsolete registrations in 1948.
Clarrie Irvine raced Matatua, as B-9, for the next couple of seasons and sold her in 1949 to R. Campbell of Wellington. The trip to Wellington under delivery skipper Terry Hammond was hard and they were missing for several days after hitting a nor’westerly gale just off Cape Palliser that blew them as far south as Kaikoura. After getting back to almost the same spot, they ran into a westerly gale that blew them back out to sea. Eventually Matatua got to Wellington, her crew had been battered for 84 hours.
Matatua remained in Wellington (registered as Wellington A-10) for the next 12 years or so. She was purchased by K. Stutter in 1957, and in 1962 was sold to D. Fletcher of Epsom who brought her back to Auckland where she picked up her old number of B-9. Fletcher didn’t appear to do any racing but in 1968 he sold her to George Retter of the Richmond Yacht Club who owned and raced her until 1981.
Matatua has had no registered owners since then. Her NZYF number is 109
One major confusion with Matatua has been the Bob Stewart design Mata-a-tua built for George Gresham of Tauranga in 1947. When Matatua was sold to Wellington, her B-9 registration became vacant and was issued to Gresham’s Mata-a-tua thus beginning a series of tortured confusions in boating magazines and newspapers between the two boats.
This was continued when Mata-a-tua was also sold to Wellington in 1958 where she became Wellington A-9. Her owner Brian Millar brought her to Auckland in 1964 and she entered the 1965 Anniversary Regatta under her Wellington number A-9. (A-9?.. A-9??.. That’s Moana and We can’t have that!!) In February she was re-registered as B-47.
Another tedious ‘golly gee’ point. Both Clarrie Irvine and George Retter owned the Bailey built C-class Matua C-54. Both of them sold Matua to buy Matatua
I have been told to ‘get a life’ by many people.