Iorana > Stella – SOS

Back in January 2015 Harold Kidd sent in a wee bit of a mystery quiz, a photo of a bridge deck launch (b/w photo below) and told us she was built in 1922 and measured 38’. Plus, that when launched she had a 6 cylinder Alpha engine.

There was lots of speculation but we uncovered that she was designed and built by Leon Warne and named – Iorana  (Tahitian for “Gidday”). HDK told us that Leon Warne got a lot of work out of Whangarei because he took the launch – Rosemary north every Christmas and raced her at Onerahi and Russell. Warne built Iorana for Selwyn Blake of Whangarei who had just sold Wild Thyme. Iorana was originally painted glossy black but was repainted white in her second season. Blake came to live in St. Mary’s Bay in 1924 and brought Iorana with him. He sold her to C.D. Sellars who sold her to W. Joll of Ponsonby and then she went to Whangamata and, around 1950, to George Manktelow of Paeroa, where he kept her moored in the willows on the Ohinemuri River near the Puki Bridge alongside the launch – Gleniffer. The b/w photo below was taken there.

Whist we learnt a lot about Iorana, we were not able to discover if she was still around – then SNAP early this week – WW comes good again – I get an email from Cole Gordon – see below 

“Hi there I was wandering if anyone had any information or history on my late fathers launch “Stella” , 36ft Lanes bridge decker 80 horse Ford, paragon gearbox. Possibly once named “Wendy Frances” we have had it since the late 1990’s purchased from Peter Sharp of Opua. I am unable to find any photos of her former glory days, but I have endless memories of long summer days spent on her as a child in the Bay of Islands. She was pulled out of the water around 2012 because the fastenings on her bow lost their grip. We never got the time or resources to fix her and now she’s far to gone for me to have a chance at fixing her. She has to be broken up as my family are moving off the land. I will save the bronze brass and kauri. I am interested in knowing more about her past.”

Very quickly I did two things – #1 asked Cole to grab the handbrake on the demolition #2 sent photos of to Nathan Herbert, Nathan’s reply below:

“F_ _k, I think you’ve uncovered the Leon Warne ‘Iorana’. Search WW”

So I did and it appears that Nathan is right, so woodys we have a gold nugget here that needs saving. The boat is currently sitting on a farm in the B.O.I.’s and I imagine could be acquired for a modest sum.Even if you aren’t ready for a project – can we not find a suitable home for her until the right person comes along. You would struggle to find a more original classic of her era.

Also keen to learn more about her past, there are a few big gap in time that need filling 🙂

Jan 2015 WW Story

12-10-2021 Update – Cameron Pollard sent in the photo below of Iorana hauled on Waitangi slipway. The photo was posted on fb by Guy Ross Thorburn who said she was owned by his grandfather under the Stella name. Update unknown, possibly late 1970’s? This photo would have to be a good incentive for someone considering taking on the restoration. She is certainly a looker.

25-01-2022 Update ex Neil Hammond (potential next owner) who has advised that Stella was unfortunately blown off her props in that storm that hit northland a week ago. Hylton Edmonds kindly had a look at her for Neil to check on the damage. His assessment was that she is now too far gone to be able to realistically save. I very sad end to an old girl on her 100th birthday.

17 thoughts on “Iorana > Stella – SOS

  1. Hello Woodies Community
    Our family was saddened to learn of Stella’s/Iorana’s end.
    She was in our family (owned by our Poppa) for a few decades and have tonnes of amazing memories as the grandkids spending our summers in the BOI with her.
    We would like to make a wee monument/garden art from some of her remains if possible to gift to our parents. It would be very special to us all.
    If this is at all possible, can the current owners please contact us on our email
    With thanks and warm regards
    Grant and Hallie Cochran.


  2. Stella was moored for many years at Waitangi my parents enjoyed many outings on her back in the early 50’s with owners Charlie and Mavis Chitham


  3. My parents owned Stella for many years, they spent many hours maintaining this gorgeous boat. Very sad she has come to this sad end. Pleased my parents are not with us to know of her demise


  4. I think Nath, you are right
    They will all come to an end at some point.
    I guess the way she went is what doesn’t sit well with me.
    A cool story would be if she was lost in a ferocious storm and all the brave souls on board battled to save her but she was lost to the sea.
    Rather than one which might read classic kauri launch slowly dies of cancer in a paddock and finally falls over and meets her end…


  5. That’s how boats like this end, I guess. All of our boats will have their end at some stage. I came across a pic recently(cant remember where) of Iorana near new without the dodger, and slightly different contrasting coamings- very cool.


  6. Pingback: Stella | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  7. Might be in a position to help.
    Initially with storage and then a restore.
    Need to look at her 1st
    I live in the BOI, so easy to go visit.
    How do I get the owner’s contact details


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Totally agree Nathan. Problem is that NZ does not have an abundance of people with the spare cash/interest or ability to undertake these worthwhile projects. Especially in the knowledge that the finished product will in all likely good be worth considerably less than the cost of the project. Hence a lot of our treasures will continue to rot away. Those that are sold cheaply seem to fall into the hands of unsympathetic/ unknowledgeable owners who cut off cabins and nail on horror boxes a la a certain Sam Ford down south featured here a while back and many others.


  9. Would be a good project for sure.
    Time and money is all that is required. Doesn’t need to be the concours finish by any stretch.
    There are piles of poop boats out there with some featured here that have had or are in the throws of getting the fur coat no pants rebuild.
    Tens of thousands plus plus plus on varnish, chrome, shiny this shiny that. And yet under the floors are still old junk attached to rubbish.
    Sure they may have the “elite” built by the so called great …..
    so and so boatbuilders name tag. But at end of day they anchor in the same depth water as any other boat.
    Maybe somebody will check the size of thr kahunas and take a leap at Iorana. ?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m surprised by the lack of discussion about this boat- it’s really interesting to have surfaced after all this time and in ‘save me I’m worth it’ condition. These are the posts and for that matter the boats that are interesting, which scream potential and offer satisfaction in hands-on work. Stuff the ‘boat porn’ galleries of Cowes, Antigua showing varnished trophies- it’s a different type of boating. These NZ classics are our own special style and are far more interesting in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A: I didn’t know purpose built bridgedeckers were made as early as that.

    B: How could you let a wooden boat deteriorate to a point where it is unlikely anyone will take on a restoration, let alone see it out?


  12. Darn, the portside planking looks substantially rotten which didn’t show in previous photos. mind you very fixable, multi tool to chop the planks and replicate them from a replacement chunk of kauri then scarf them back on with some glue and rivets.


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