Hokianga Mystery Wooden Boat

Hokianga Mystery Wooden Boat – Seabird

WW was sent the above photo by Alistair Rowe, who took the photo earlier in the week from the deck of the Boathouse Cafe in Rawene. As we see her above, there is an interesting mix of lines and styles – and one would have to assume she started life as a work boat. Her colour scheme indicates that someone loves and cares for her.

Keen to learn more about this old girl.

Input & photos below from Cameron Pollard – SEABIRD. Been on Hokianga for eternity. Powered by a 100hp Hino noise maker.

11-12-2020 Harold Kidd Input – SEABIRD was built at Motukaraka by Kelsey Bros to their own design for their own use in April 1912 with a 6hp Automatic engine. Another clone of Chas. Bailey’s MILKMAID.

Just a heads up, we have almost sold out of WW merchandise, orders have been coming in think and fast over the last month, even without any promotion – on Monday we sold 16 t-shirts to a very big visiting yacht – seems all the crew are getting one in their Santa sack 🙂

The WW cupboard as of today looks like this:
Mens short sleeve dark blue – size 2XL – 8 in stock
Mens short sleeve dark blue – size 4XL – 1 in stock
Mens short sleeve dark blue – size 5XL – 2 in stock
Mens short sleeve orange – size 2XL – 1 in stock
Mens short sleeve dark brown – size L –   8 in stock
Mens short sleeve dark brown – size XL – 4 in stock
SOLD OUT of hats
T-shirts are $34.95 + $5 p&p. Email me the size / colour you are after and I’ll get back to you with availability and payment details. waitematawoodys@gmail.com


Just when you think you have uncovered all the woodys out there, up pops another newbie 🙂

Glenn Martin spotted – Jane, resting beside the mangroves in the Hokianga.  Glenn commented that she still has a lot of the original fittings left but from the photos it looks like she has been sitting there for a while and a lot of work would be needed to bring her back. But with time and money anything is possible – just look at the restoration of My Girl as an example





Any input appreciated on Jane’s provenance.

DES TOWNSON – A SAILING LEGACY QUIZ WINNER – William Brown with the answer – Scott Wilson. Well done Bill 🙂


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The above boat popped recently on Lew Redwood’s fb, the caption had a possible date of 1956>61 and an unconfirmed location of Northland. The photo was credited to a Frank Lomas, if that helps.
I know it’s a big ask – but can anyone ID the boat / location ?
Input from Dean Wright – Dean sent in the photo below of Mana Nui, taken in the Bay of Islands on 27 Jan, 2017. This backed up by Brian Worthington’s advice that the mystery boat is Mana Nui. Kerry Alexander has also suggested she was owned by Capt. Fred Young and the location is Rawene. 

OOPS its not the boat that Dean sent in. Photo below ex Paul Drake and shows Mananui at Tauranga (Sulphur Point Marina).

She is already featured on woodys – see WW Link. A rather smart woody https://waitematawoodys.com/2017/0
Update 15-04-2020 Photos below ex Aubrey Bracey via Frank Lomas and show ManaNui at Hokianga c.1956-61

Mystery Boat



The above photos were sent in by Nathan Herbert & were taken on the Hokianga Harbour. Very sad to see this boat neglected like this.

So woodys – first one to correctly ID her wins a Lake Rotoiti Classic & Wooden Boat Regatta 2017 Calendar. Entries via the ww comments section.

Sierra – ‘Horse Float’


Sierra - 'Horse Float'

Sierra – ‘Horse Float’

photo ex Dave Jackson

The above photo of “Sierra” was taken in the Hokianga – no date sorry.
Now when I showed the photo to Harold Kidd, he was good, he correctly ID’ed the location as Hokianga & the Omapere Wharf and the launch most likely ex Fell’s Boatyard, established in 1905 at Kohukohu by Joseph Fell. But Harolds not that good, he did not know the names of the horses 🙂

Sierra is now in the CYA fleet, colour photo below. Any details on her past would be appreciated.

Scan 131820005

08-01-2016 photo at Kawau Island ex Tom Kane

Sierra Kawau Jan2016

13-01-2016 Input from John Mortimer

In the late 1950’s l lived on a remote and marginal sheep and cattle farm on the Waima River in the Hokianga.
In a direct line, Rawene was only 3 miles away,by river it was 5 miles and by road 30.
The river was the obvious highway and the Sierra, owned and skippered by Fred Young was our main means of communication.
Several contracts relied on the Sierra. The school contract took children to and from Moehau school morning and afternoon. Most farmers  on the river had poor or no road communication and the cream output from farms carrying anything from 20 to 120 cows went  down to Rawene in the Sierra to Rawene for transshipment by pontoon to the dairy factory at Motukaraka. Empty cans from the previous day we loaded on board and delivered to farm jetties on the up river journey next day.
The mail was delivered three times week and the  Herald on the afternoon return trip. If there was no one on the jetty , Fred would send the rolled newspaper to the deck with a dexterous flick of the wrist.
The launch also carried morning passengers to Rawene to do their shopping. They returned when she went back to Moehau in the afternoon at 1.30.
A conversation overheard in the open cockpit in the stern on a sunny afternoon:
First Lady – I read  the Truth for the recipes.
Second lady – I read it for the horoscopes
Third lady – I read it for the scandal

A burst of laughter from all three.

When the dairy factory closed and the Moehau school roll fell her days in the Hokianga were numbered. I understand that she spent her last summer at Opononi  taking visitors around the harbour and then sailed out over the bar, round the turbulent seas at North Cape and down to the Waitemata where she was used as work boat during the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Her name was always mentioned in conjunction with the name of her builders, Fells of Motukaraka. I understand that there were three sister ships, the Sierra, the Nevada and the Santa Fe.
Sounds more like an old song to me.
She approaches her hundredth year with dignity and grace of an old timer who may well live for ever.