History of Arahi


Recently the owner of Arahi, Gordon Lane, dropped me a note and when Gordon said he had been doing some research on her provenance, he wasn’t joking – of course I replied – ‘email it to me’, turns out to be quite a tome 🙂

So I‘ll hand over to Gordon to tell you about Arahi – the 32’ 10’6” beam, 4’ draft ex work boat, powdered by a 4LW Gardner with a Gardner 2UC Gearbox.

Links below to previous WW stories, lots of details, chat and photos.

MAY2022 https://waitematawoodys.com/2020/05/27/arahi-2/

JAN2022 https://waitematawoodys.com/2022/01/20/arahi-update/


MV Arahi’s recorded history starts with her purchase by the then Auckland Harbour Board in 1940.

While it has been suggested that, from her design, she is older than 1940 I can find no record of a previous life or a builder. In any event, she was built very ruggedly, as a workboat, if not with finesse.

She was “strengthened” by the Board and had massive echo sounding equipment fitted. She was then employed as a hydrographic vessel for the next thirty-eight years. She carried out extensive shallow water survey work throughout the Waitemata Harbour as well as on the Manukau Harbour and its bar which needed regular surveys. It is probable that she had various other duties as well. The large transducer equipment installed is still in place today and I am too nervous to attempt its removal!

In the early 1950’s she provided hydrographic information necessary prior to and during the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. 

In the New Zealand Herald of 29/06/1971 an article appears regarding a near miss she had while working, nearly being run down by a fishing boat whose whole crew were down aft filleting the catch. Although she had the right of way, flying a keep clear flag, she was forced to take action to avoid being run down.

She was under the command of Lieutenant Commander John Reith in a civilian capacity as the AHB hydrographer.

A Mr Colin Tubbs is recorded as his assistant and Mr Alan Hammond also formed part of the crew at that time. It is probable that she had at least one additional crew member when doing hydrographic work.

This was during a period in the early 1970’s when the Auckland Harbour Board was investigating the possibility of port development in the upper Waitemata Harbour in that area between the Point Chevalier peninsula and Te Atatu. To establish the position and type of wharf structures, and the dredging required, the extent of the soft marine deposits between the seabed and a depth of 25 metres had to be determined over the whole area. To do this equipment capable of “seeing” through layers of mud and soft rock strata was required.

She was fitted with a state-of-the-art Precision Depth Recorder (PDR), 10 kilowatt transceiver and a towed transducer assembly (the “fish”). Much of this work could only be done on a rising tide often in water less than 2m deep requiring the “fish” to be tied alongside the port quarter to keep it off the seabed.

Clearly the science precluded the practicality of the development, as we know it never happened.

An engine logbook exists covering the period 27/04/1967 up until her sale by tender 04/05/1978. 

This gives her run hours, rpm, bunkering, operating temperatures and pressures.

During the period April 1967 to November 1968, from the logbook, work included Soundings, Yard Work, Manukau Harbour, Manukau Bar, Bridge Barge, Pilot Duties, Tug for the moorings punt, docking the Daldy and Hikinui, as well as picnic trips on Anniversary Day. 

After November 1968 the skippers rarely recorded duties in this log and kept to fuel and oil usage etc..  

Maintenance history prior to April 1967 is unknown but it seems probable that sometime between 1955 and 1967 the engine was changed to the current Gardner 4LW (Engine No. 103459 – 1955). (The writer would like to know what engine predated the Gardner)

Following Harbour Board protocol regular servicing, slipping and routine repairs were carried out throughout the period.

To Private Ownership:

Arahi was put up for tender in early 1978 and when tenders closed and she had a new owner on 4th May 1978.

She was immediately slipped at Baileys yard on 26th June for belting repairs and extensive new fitout and maintenance was carried out at the time. Of special note was the comment that a hull inspection found it to be “First Class – Very Sound”!

At this time her name was changed to Te Rama-Roa.

She was intended for fishing by the new owner and much work was carried out to this end including a “1000lb winch and 60A Alternator”.

However, for unknown reasons she never went fishing and was sold to a Mr Ken Morris of Tauranga and later Tryphena. (Ken, a knowledgeable engineer, has been of great assistance to me putting these notes together.)

She sailed from Auckland to Tauranga on 30th November 1978 to start her new life.

Ken Morris’s Boat:

Ken promptly renamed her Omatere after an earlier launch he’d owned but later decided to change her name back to the original Arahi.

He did many fishing and pleasure trips from Tauranga to Mayor Island, White Island etc. but Arahi’s working days were by no means over!

Ken had decided to move to Tryphena and build himself a house and to do this substantial materials and house structures had to be shipped from Tauranga and Auckland to the island.

Ken acquired a 40ft wooden barge and Arahi, a harbour hydrographic boat, commenced a new career as a coastal tug. She made many trips backward and forward between Tauranga, Auckland and Tryphena before the project was finished.

Her last trip as a tug was a “grand finale” towing a 50ft steel barge with a village hall on board from Tauranga to Tryphena.

Notwithstanding when the serious work was finished, Arahi was still both the Auckland shopping transport and family launch making several hundred Colville Channel crossings to Auckland.

Notwithstanding when the serious work was finished, Arahi was still both the Auckland shopping transport and family launch making several hundred Colville Channel crossings to Auckland.

Over the years Ken did much work updating and improving on Arahi’s equipment and accommodation most of which is still in place today. Notably major works were carried out over two months ending in March 1981.

These included re-siting the dry exhaust as you hit your head on the muffler every time you entered the engine room. Ken placed it centrally and later made a very special stainless steel funnel with a Gardner approved venturi exhaust system.

Other works were extending the cockpit roof and glassing the fore cabin roof.

During another refit the cabin sides were completely replaced with ply as the island kauri with which they were originally built developed extensive rot. At that time the Gardner was removed from the boat and given a top end rebuild, the bottom end according to Ken just didn’t need anything. (The Gardner had completed its first 10,000 hours in January 1975 and its second during Kens time and is sitting on 3,648 today and still running like a clock).

The years rolled by until Ken decided his boating days were over and it was time to move Arahi on.

So, in 2019, after 41 years a tired Arahi, in need of some worm repair work in the stem and general TLC was given to Merv Young of Auckland.

Arahi to Auckland and Wanganui:

She left Tryphena in 2019 and was assisted back to Auckland by Alistair Reynolds beautiful charter launch Felicitare.

She was taken up the Tamaki River and then trucked to Merv’s Otahuhu premisses for a seven month clean and tidy up.

After relaunch and a short time at Westhaven, Merv sold her on to a young chap from Wanganui and she was trucked down in late 2019.

She received plenty of attention on her arrival as the new boat on the river but unfortunately, she wasn’t to remain a river boat for long. Her owner, with changed circumstances, decided to sell her and this writer purchased her in February 2022 and trucked her back to Auckland and his Gulf Harbour marina berth.

After her time tied to the riverbank in Wanganui, she needed a thorough boatyard session and to this end she was placed in a shed at Te Atatu Boat Club from April to July 2022.

Back in Auckland: 

Boatbuilder Mr Wayne Deacon together with shipwright Mr Terry King worked on her repairs, with me getting in their way.

Arahi is exceptionally strongly built; her scantlings may be considered considerably more than those expected in a vessel of this size. 

Stripping and inspection showed all the heart kauri 1 ¼” planking was in exceptional condition. 

However, six full athwartship ribs and four half ribs plus two floors in the cockpit area needed replacement. It is thought that entry of fresh water over many years and the tight turn of the bilge in this area were responsible. These ribs were removed and replaced with epoxy laminated hardwood ribs spot glued and fastened with 3” silicon bronze screws in the same frequency as the original copper nails. This work provided a very strong construction, truing up the quarters planking, and in keeping with the rest of the vessel.

The exterior underwater hull was stripped to the timber, old putty removed, additional caulking carried out where required, puttying, priming and antifouling.

There are no below waterline skin fittings in use except the engine keel cooling. Where older through hull fittings existed, they were plugged on the outside and capped internally.

The rudder including stock and bearings were replaced with a new replica of the original.

The propellor has been replaced with a new one.

The original strut white-metal bearing has been replaced with a modern cutlass bearing in the same housing.

Topsides required some timber replacement around the port bow sponson and re-glassing. A small strip of the cabin roof was also re-glassed. Otherwise decks and cabin were a sound and waterproof.

A new anchor winch has been fitted on the foredeck to allow remote anchor operation in due course.

Inspection of the engine, a Gardner Diesel 4LW with a Gardner 2UC gearbox, situated in its own engine room forward of the helm station was satisfactory. Preventative maintenance was carried out on the engine “ram” type coolant pump and the identical bilge pump by Mr Dave Shaw of Shaw Diesels, New Zealand Gardner agents.

A new 70A alternator is fitted to replace the c. 20A dynamo as a first step toward a full electrical upgrade.

Bilge pumps, fuel systems and instruments have all been replaced.

As at the date of writing (December 2022) she is back at her new home at Gulf Harbour, and I am working hard to complete a full rewire prior to some summer cruising.


If anybody can add factual information to the Arahi story I would really appreciate hearing from them, please feel free to contact me on either 0274 316 196 olaneg@xtra.co.nz

Northern Star


The 40’ ex workboat Northern Star was built c.late 196o’s by Roger Carey in Picton, then c.2009 she was converted to a trawler cruiser / live aboard.

Forward motion is via a rebuilt 6LX Gardner that is keel cooled. Like all good southerns woodys there is a diesel heater to keep toastie below.

From her tme listing (thanks Ian McDonald) we see that she is very well fitted out for extended cruising.

INPUT ex Russell Ward – photo below taken 20+ years back, in Picton marina. Russell commented that they all looked so much better in working colours than in the stark white that present owners use.



The 40’ carvel planked – Heather was built in 1965 by Doug Robb and spent her first 35 years as a commercial fishing boat. In 2000 Miller & Tunnage converted Heather to pleasure boat and installed the 1996 Gardner 6LXB, which was brand new at the time. Like all good Gardners she is very efficient e.g. at 5.5 knots, running at 800rpm, she sips 1L pnm. Normal cruise speed is 7.5 knots, but can be taken up to 9.5 knots max.

To use the old car dealer term – Heather comes with all the fruit, incredibly spec’ed and all set for some serious cruising.

Thanks to Ian McDonald for the tme heads up

04-10-2022 INPUT FROM Philip Trow

“Hi, Philip here….the present owner of Heather (2022). It is great to see a correct and largely accurate report on Heather. A couple of things to add: MV Heather was originally built by the Heberley family of the Marlborough sounds. She is named Heather after Heather Heberley (NZ author of some note). 

Heather has been a particularly reliable and forgiving vessel for myself and previous owners. I have taken her around most of the South Is and I know previous owners have also used her for some great trips around the North is. She is very economical to run (1l/nm @ 800rpm/5.8kts exactly and circa  9l/hour at 1050rpm/ 7kts average.) Large 1200l+ tanks give her a very usable range. She also has a 6kw gen set and 800watt+ solar panels to handle long periods at mooring or unattended. As of writing she has less than 3600 hours from new on the Gardner 6lxb. That is very few hours on a Gardner.

Heather was rebuilt around 2000 and a great deal of heavy duty good quality equipment was installed. All of the fittings and equipment are much more robust than you would typically find on a pleasure vessel.

MV Heather has benefited from myself and previous owners who have maintained her to a good standard and also spent significant amounts keeping her up to date with features like AIS, drip free shaft seal and Blackwater.

I have retired from aviation, and now have a larger “Bluewater boat”, hence Heather is somewhat regrettably on the market.”

Virgo – 4sale


And up pops another work boat conversation for sale on tme (thanks Ian McDonal). Virgo was built in 1963 from kauri by Jorgensen & Son in Picton and started life as a commercial fishing boat before being converted to pleasure use. Virgo is 39’3’ in length and powered by a 130hp Gardner 6LXB Diesel engine. Current home port is Waikawa marina, Picton, South Island.

Interested to learn when and who did the conversion and any other intel on the vessel.


Haunui Restoration

In between the CV-19 lock-downs one of Auckland’s most beautiful classic wooden motor launches changed ownership – the Colin Wild designed and built 1948 launch – Haunui was sold by Owen Cashmore. In a previous life Haunui was owned by Harry Julian. Haunui was almost immediately hauled out at a private yard and master wooden boat builder Paul Tingey was engaged to return Haunui to her glory days. I showed her new owners over her ‘cousin’- Trinidad and they accepted the challenge to equal her presentation. 

As can happen when dealing with 72 year old wooden artifacts, on close (pulling boards off) inspection the old girl had a few issues, so the decision was made to undertake a total refit, including engine. Haunui is single screw, but has a smaller auxiliary engine > shaft > prop on the starboard side. I believe an electric unit will replace the small diesel. The Gardner sadly is coming out, fyi – prior to going into Haunui, rumour is it came out of a Sydney Harbour > Manly ferry, so was very run in ;-). Her owner has told me they will restore the engine over time but the process involves utilizing a foundry that will have to custom cast the parts that are needed. In the meantime Haunui will receive a new heart transplant. 

As you can see from my photos above, the refit is on a rather grand scale, but Mr Tingey is the man for the job.
We will follow this project and keep you updated. As always, click on photos to enlarge 😉

The photos below are dated 2014, ex Rod Marler, and show Haunui hauled out at Orams yard in Westhaven. 

Arethusa – New Wheelhouse Project

Screen Shot 2019-07-26 at 4.02.42 PM copy

arethusa2 copy

Arethusa – New Wheelhouse Project
Back in October as part of another story I mentioned that Arethusa was inline for a treat – her Bay of Islands owner, Dean Wright has decided to a build / install a new wheelhouse. Arethusa is almost 100 year old (99) so a perfect centennial present for the 33’ Bob Brown built ex gaff rigged cutter. Arethusa these days is configured in work-boat / launch style.
The new wheelhouse is being made from Iroko by John Gander – John is a shipwright extraordinaire, served his apprenticeship and worked for Careys for many years. 
Included above are the design drawings for the wheelhouse and an existing photo for comparison. 
We will be following this project on WW with much interest – love a good project.
To see / read more on Arethusa, including restoring & installing a Gardner 4LW – more links there  https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/12/31/restoring-installing-a-gardner-in-arethusa-revisited/

Dionysus (Paulmarkson)







Dionysus (Paulmarkson)

Todays WW story is sobering viewing, it records the fate of Dionysus, the Percy Vos built motor sailer, that went ashore at Oakura in July 2014.
I understand she was left unattended on anchor and the weather turned nasty overnight and the owners could not get out to her. Details & photos from Cameron Pollard.
She was extensively damaged with her decks and bulkheads popped. The decision was made instantly by insurance and council to remove the wreck asap.
Cameron reports that her Gardner engine was taken away after its salt water washing and has since been saved and is destined for a new home in a very nice fishing boat conversion.
Her rigs and tailshaft etc were dragged into a paddock and anything still intact was left with it .
Lots of vehicles on the beach in the photos – in fact the beach is actually a designated road.

Skacen / Skagen

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 9.13.05 am

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 9.14.40 am

Now this wee ship (she is a ship) has been on WW before but she is such a honey & now for sale so she deserves an encore 🙂
Skacen measures 36’ with a beam of 10’7” & draws 4’11”. Zoom zoom comes from a 5LW Gardner (of course).
She was built by Salthouse in 1973, with a carvel kauri hull. You will see from the above photos she is very well fitted out with lots of character.
In the photos you may have picked up something strange – on the port side her name is Skagen & on the starboard its Skacen ?
As Ian McDonald commented when he sent me the trademe link – not many boats of her size have a walk-in engine room.
She would be perfect for a couple wanting mooch around the NZ coast in almost any weather, as she spent over 10 years in commercial fishing on New Zealand’s East Coast.
Woody – David Glen has advised that she was moored in the Whangapoua Harbour, off Matarangi Wharf, for the best part of the last 20 years. She was owned by a local resident who worked in the local forests. She caught David’s eye at Matarangi in 1990’s and she appeared to be well maintained, but seldom used.
And speaking of David Glen, he sent me yesterday the photo below from Amsterdam of this lovely, what I assume is a hire boat. Loving the top & down windows.

St George



St GEORGE – Workboat Wednesday

I was sent the above photos of the fishing boat – St George by Tony Borich. She belonged to Tony’s grandfather Ross Kellian.
Tony commented that the ownership period was long before his time, but he recalls that Grandad was very fond of its Kelvin motor.
Ross Kellian was friends with John Walker, the previous owner of vessel Melodeon, both were purse seining out of Leigh and local fishing identities.
Can any of the workboat group supply more details on St. George & what became of her?
As a bonus – read the press story of Ross Kellian’s 26’ fishing boat oops – Lyndon – very lucky to be alive !
Cameron Pollard Input – St George is 75% through a 20 plus year to date pleasure conversion rebirth on an extremely private property in the Thames district.( no expert advisers or health and safety warriors allowed that’s for sure )
So far new decks bulkheads engine bearers wheelhouse and hull splined etc etc. All to a high standard. No engine installed but the current owner has a 5L3 gardner destined for the engine compartment.
Interestingly the shed is half of an old villa converted to boat shed and has no mains power. All lighting and the all important beer fridge is solar /battery powerd with the 230v supplied via generator.
Input from Harold Kidd – Launched 12th May 1934 by Chas. Bailey & Son Ltd for T & M Devcich with a “36hp semi-diesel” replaced in 1936 by a K3 Kelvin. During WW2 she had a 66hp Gardner according to Naval records.
Photo below ex Cameron Pollard from the mid 1980’s
Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 6.57.31 PM
Just had a cool update from Cameron P. – Bruce McMillan, the owner of St. George has just agreed to share with WW readers a peek at the work underway  – photos taken over a extended period – Bruce commented to Cameron that St George’s rebuild is like the mainland cheese ad. “Good things take time”.
Viewing the photos  showcases the quality of workmanship going into her – very impressive.
17-08-2018 More photos below from her owner (Bruce McMillan) ex Cameron Pollard. Check out the work done on the 5L3 Gardner (ex FV Heather), stunning & a woody shed to die for 🙂

San- Al- Pa 45′ Gladden Displacement Sedan Launch

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 9.00.52 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 9.05.38 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 9.05.06 PM

45′ Gladden Displacement Sedan Launch

I have had several woodys alert me to the trademe listing for the above vessel – to date we know that she was designed and built in 1968 to survey by John Gladden. 45′ in length, with a beam of 13’1″ & draft of 5’6″, she is kauri strip plank construction and powered with a 110 h.p. Gardner 6LXA diesel.

Looking at the photos she would a great launch for long distance all weather, economical cruising.
Anyone know more about her ? a name would be good, but we know how insecure the brokers are 🙂
And Something For The Woody Petrol Heads
The Red Wing engine below is on trademe – Built by the Thorobred Motor Company, USA. Thanks Peter Thorpy for the listing heads-up.
Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 7.36.55 am
And Speaking Of Motors – Gardner Wanted
Woody Russell Ward, has asked if I could spread the word around that he needs a Gardner 5LW that is in reasonable running order.
Russel has a new project & it does not involve steam or sails, more on this later.
The engine  that came with the boat is beyond saving so he is looking for a replacement.
I suggested that a sensible person would treat the boat to a six cylinder Ford but Russell likes old engines especially the way they sound 😉