Kotahi – SOS



Today’s woody story is a call out to our community to ask if anyone can help secure the future of Kotahi, a 26’ Bailey and Tyer built kauri carvel planked launch that for the last 9 years has been living the life of a celebrity at the Auckland Zoo as part of a permanent display. This semi- retirement village lifestyle is probably very fitting for a 110 year old. 

After being launched in Nov 1912 at the Bailey and Tyer, Halls Beach yard in Northcote, Auckland, Kotahi had a very nomadic life which saw her spending time in Auckland > Tauranga > Lake Rotoiti > Tauranga > Lake Taupo, then back to Auckland where in 2013 she was craned into her ‘berth’ at the Auckland Zoo.

Like most things in life, priorities change and things get updated so the call has been made to find a new home for Kotahi. Anything that once moved her along has long been removed so as she sits Kotahi is just a hull but appears to be reasonably solid.

SO woodys – looking for suggestions – restore her?, repurpose her? eg as another display, or a playground?, or maybe incorporated into a retail environment – Auckland Zoo is open to all suggestions. But lets not let Kotahi die at the hands of a back-hoe.

Sarah MacWilliam at Auckland Zoo has asked that interested parties contact her direct at the email address below to register any interest. BUT do not hesitate, a deadline has been set of March 18th 2022 for you to make contact.  Sarah.MacWilliam@aucklandzoo.co.nz

Back in 2013 WW recorded Kotahi’s arrival at the Auckland Zoo and uncovered a lot of background on her – thanks to Harold Kidd and Paul Drake. Link https://waitematawoodys.com/2013/11/20/mystery-boats-at-the-zoo/




I was contacted yesterday by David Grogan whose grandfather, Ted (Edward Alfred) Grogan, who’s family lived in Ngunguru up near Whangarei, in 1919 Ted owned the motor launch, Electra in partnership with a Mr. P Wellington.
David had uncovered a Northern Advocate report about the arrival in Ngunguru of the vessel, in October 1919, She was described as having, “just arrived from Auckland…about 28 feet overall with a good beam and mast and sails. She is fitted throughout with every modern convenience”. From this brief description David commented that Electra does not sound like she was a working boat. She may have been converted into a pleasure craft, at that point however. David had done a WW search and found a suggestion from Harold Kidd that Electra may have been designed by C. Harrison Smith and built by Bailey & Tyre, at Hall’s Beach, Northcote.
Ted Grogan married in 1922 and its likely he sold his share in Electra, to help finance the family home back in Auckland.
I contacted Harold Kidd and he was able to confirm that Electra was designed by C. Harrison Smith and built by Bailey & Tyer at Hall’s Beach Northcote in December 1912 for G. Thorne George and D.M. Davis of Parnell. She was 30’ x 8’ and had a 10hp Djinn kerosene engine. Harold also supplied the above photos.
She was sold after a couple of years to a Mr Hogan who sold her to Whangarei ‘for fishing purposes’ in 1919, so it would appear that David’s grandfather took her north for fishing.
She disappears from the record in 1922, probably with a name change.
Is anyone able to enlighten us on what became of Electra post 1922? Harold commented that she looked almost square bilged, but she wasn’t. Hopefully her distinctive lines may have made her memorable.


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Recently Valeeka popped up on fb chat and then today I get a note from Wade Nisbet those grandparents owned the launch and sold her in 1953.
The photo above shows her when owned by Wade’s family, beached in the Bay of Islands after a fresh coat of anti-fouling.
Wade would love to get confirmation of what (little) he knows about the boat and also learn if she has survived and if so where she is today.
Its rumored that – she is 36’, built in 1912, builder was Bailey & Lowe. Richard Petricevich has commented that she was owned by Nicky Williams from 1953 to the 1980’s. Used as a fishing vessel in Hokianga, plus to ‘power’ the Rawene car ferry. According to Richard she also pulled the last raft of kauri logs, floated to the mill on the Hokianga. At the time of purchase she was powered by a straight 8 Scripts marine’ised petrol engine, but was later re-powered with a 4 cyl. Fordson diesel. 
Valeeka was sold to a Graeme Lidgard of Whangarei, in the 1980’s. Can someone that knows Graeme ‘point’ this WW story in his direction so we can hopefully fill in some gaps. Graeme may have sold the launch to a doctor in Thames.
Richard Petricevich also posted the photo below of Valeeka’s name board and bow crest – which is a little disconcerting i.e hopefully souvenired  during a re-fit and not from a wreck……….
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Harold Kidd Input – VALEKA (original spelling; named after a current racehorse of that name) was a 33 footer built by BAILEY & TYER (not Bailey & Lowe) at Hall’s Beach Northcote in December 1912 for E. Porter of Northcote. She was probably designed by C. Harrison Smith who did the design work for Bailey & Tyer at the time. Her first engine was a 12hp Hercules which was replaced by a 50hp Kermath when Noel Campbell owned her in 1923.
Log Of The Rawhiti – OOPS FIXED
If you couldn’t open the link to read/view Sunday’s story on Rawhiti’s amazing passage from Sydney to Auckland – it now ‘live again’ – click below