As has become my norm for Waitangi holiday weekend early on Saturday morning I pointed the car south and made my way to Lake Rotoiti in the middle of NZ’s North Island. 

2023 marked the 26th anniversary of the event and after a horror week of ‘once in a 100 years’ rain storms I had concerns that the parade might be postponed or cancelled. Well woodys as you’ll see from the above photo gallery, my fears were redundant.

The day started overcast with some light drizzle but this passed thru before the parade kicked off at 11am. Numbers were down a little from last year but conditions were perfect on the lake. 

Enjoy the gallery above – if you’re craft is featured above and you want a high res copy of the photo, drop me an email at the address below. Apologise if I missed your boat or if the odd photo is a little out of focus – just me in a run-about jiggling the throttle, looking out for other boats and holding the camera 🙂

My pick of the boat I’d most like tied up at my imaginary lake jetty is – ELLEN (#14), 26’ in length, built in 2004 in strip planked cedar from a plug taken off an old abandoned hull found in Kopu. Thought to be a ‘Milkmaid’ design by Bailey & Lowe. Powered by a 29hp diesel.  In my eyes just perfect. Photo below

Special thanks again to Dave and Glenys Wilson for the loan of a boat to get me out on the lake.

As always – click on photos to enlarge.

Lastly I never tire of the sound of big V8 (5.7L)  water exhausts. Shawn Vennell, the owner of Judy H, was lining me up for a prop shower – a few words of warning as to what my reaction would be, made him change his mind 😉


2021 Lake Rotoiti Classic and Wooden Boat Parade – 175+ photos & videos



As promised todays WW story is a doozy, we travelled down to the lake very early on Saturday morning and were hosted by the clubs commodore Dave Wilson and wife Glenys, who own the magnificent 1947 Colin Wild built bridge-decker – Haumoana. The launch is kept at the end of the lawn at their lakeside property (photos below) – More details on Haumoana here

Dave lent me is ‘fishing boat’ – the f/glass runabout seen the photo below, to use as a photo boat for the parade – fingers crossed no one got a photo of me at the helm 😉

Close to 80 classic and wooden craft of all shapes and sizes – power, sail, oar and steam participated in the days events – starting with a parade that snakes around the waterfront properties and vantage points. Post parade every one heads off to Wairoa Bay for an old school boating picnic – being lake based, no issue with tides or anchoring, people just nudge up to the shore – perfect for checking out each others woody.

The afternoon activities had something for everyone – adults and kids activities (egg throwing, bucket diving for sweets etc) + lots of cool prizes to be won.Without a doubt its the best organised and executed boating event I have been to – very slick and the bonus – lots of nice friendly people – we like that 🙂

Enjoy the photos. As always – click photos to enlarge 😉 If I missed your boat, sorry but one boat and one camera can only be in so many places at one time  – next year.


photos & details from Alan Craig ex Ken Ricketts, rewritten by Alan H

Well folks I now know the first boat I will be checking out at the 2016 Lake Rotoiti Classic Wooden Boat Parade 🙂

Manowai has spent the the last year tucked away in boat builder, Alan Craig’s boat shed, Alan has recently taken over the former shed of Tony Mitchell at Lake Rotoiti.

Ken has known the boat for over 70 years, first going aboard when he was around 8 years old.

Alan Craig advises that Manowai  is 32′ with an 8′ beam & now owned by Lake Rotoiti local Dennis Walsh, Dennis intends to keep the launch on the lake where she will be a stunning additional to the classic fleet.. Dennis bought her off a Mr Andy Culpin of Hampton Downs. It is understood he had kept her in a shed  for approx. 2 years & had started the restoration work & Alan has spent the last 12 months working on her. The target for relaunching is prior to Christmas 2015.
Alan commented that when purchased by Dennis Walsh she was powered by a BMC Commander, 4 cyl diesel, this is being replaced with a much lighter, brand new,  4 cyl. 40 hp Lombardini diesel, similar to what powers the launch Marjorie Rosa (ex Juliana) which also resides on Lake Rotoiti.

From the photos, the finish looks outstanding & given its been achieved just with elbow grease, lots of sandpaper & putty is a credit to Alan the boat builder.

Alan Craig has asked for help in sourcing  early photos of her & any info from previous owners.  The original builder & launch date are own known.

MANOWAI update ex Colin Brown via Ken Ricketts.edited by Alan H

Until today, I did not know that Colin B had significant roll in the refurbishment programme on MANOWAI.

He first became involved with her about 2003, when she was owned by Ralph Power & worked on her for an 8 year period in total, with around 3 years in his shed at Kumeu & also in the shed in McLeod Rd, Te Atatu South. During this period she changed hands from Ralph P., to Andy Culpin who sold her to Dennis Walsh.

The work included replacing the planking “hood ends” where the planking is fixed to the stem, with a new apron & new big pohutukawa stem knee. He also replaced most of the interior, except the middle section, where the engine was fitted over about a 3 year period

Colin told Ken he believes she was built by Bailey & Lowe in 1921






photo & details ex KenRicketts

Was owned by a Claude Atherton, during WWII & through to approx the 1960s.

During WWII, he was a welder employed by my father at Mason & Porter in Parnell.

C. A. lived in Parnell & he kept Manowai in Judges Bay, by the groin just under the bridge, for many years, later moving her to the Western Viaduct in later years — see below.

To the best of my recall, she was built by either Collings & Bell, or Baileys, & she was the second launch I ever went on board, at circa 8 years old (c1944), not too long after my first trip ever, on Tiromoana.

She originally, I believe, & certainly when I first went on her had a 6 cyl Thornycroft petrol engine, with 1 side & 1 overhead valve, (painted green), a configuration similar to early Land Rovers. This engine was replaced in the later 40s by a twin cyl Ruston Diesel

She originally had a stern exhaust, just above the waterline on the port side. This was replaced with a short funnel out the deck, amidships, when the Ruston was installed. The Ruston was fitted because C.A. retired from M & P, & went long line fishing commercially, in the later 1940s with an “AK” commercial fishing number on the bow, & she moved shortly after this change in use, to the Western Viaduct as above. He eventually retired because of old age setting in & I lost contact with her for many years & one day, came upon her, by chance, in one of the downtown boatbuilders sheds, perhaps Orams or similar, in the later 1980s or 1990s, where she was undergoing a major hull repair job, with rib replacements, &/or refastening, which, as I recall, took many months or perhaps over a year to complete. — I remember being in conversation with the owner at that time.

C.A’s. daughter, Heather became the wife of one our most famous boat designers, boat builders, & blue water sailors, our very own, really great guy, John Lidgard.