Oranui – Part Two

Waikawa early 2000’s
Hobsonville Aug 2008
Hutcheson Boat-builders 08-11-2011

ORANUI – Part Two
Yesterdays request for more intel on the yacht Oranui, hit the jackpot when Marl McLaughlin opened his WW email yesterday. Mark sent in the above and below selection of photos. If you missed yesterdays story, might be best to scroll down first and read /view it then read Mark’s input – reproduced below.


“Further to the “what became of her story” on Oranui, I have sent in some extra info and photos. The obituary details are for her builder and original owner Eric Tomkies, taken from the winter 1988 edition of the RPNYC magazine “The Rip”. Eric Tomkies was a distant relation of mine (he and my grandfather were cousins) and I know Oranui well.

Previously brothers Eric, Clinton and Horace Tomkies built the 47ft Burns designed RAKOA and sailed her extensively. I have included a photo (below) of Rakoa from the Gisborne Photo News, June 1954. Unfortunately Rakoa was later lost when working as a fishing boat at Stewart Island and what remains now rests on the seabed in Foveaux Strait. 

Oranui was sturdily built in strip planked kauri on a hardwood backbone. Heavy scantlings are typical of Athol Burns’ style and it is notable in the magazine article that of the six boats that came ashore in the Wahine storm, it was only the two Athol Burns boats (Hinemoana III was the other one), that were re-floated. 

Oranui has spent most of her life in the Wellington and Marlborough Sounds regions. Her 3cyl Volvo Penta diesel was re-powered with a 4cyl 52hp Yanmar diesel engine in 1999 and she circumnavigated the South Island in the early 2000’s. She was then sold to a New Plymouth based owner who cruised her extensively between New Plymouth and Nelson/Marlborough Sounds and also up to Auckland. I have attached a photo of her on the hardstand at Hobsonville Marina during this time. She was then sold in 2011 to a Wellington based Doctor who sent her to Hutcheson Boatbuilders in Tauranga for a refit before taking her back to Wellington. I spotted her motoring around Picton Harbour in January this year looking as good as new.

As per most Athol Burns designs she is functional but beautiful, and very sea-kindly for Cook Strait conditions. “

FOOT NOTE: Mark believes the RPNYC article is confusing the Wahine storm in 1968 with the storm in 1966 which the Sea Spray article about Oranui and Hinemoana III relates to. However, Eric’s brother Clinton Tomkies did tell him that Oranui came ashore in the Wahine storm as well, but he could have been confusing it with the 1966 storm too 🙂

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