photos & details ex Steve Martin
Builder: Collings & Bell (1956) Designer: Alex J. Collings
LWL: 13m (42.5 feet) LOA: 14m (45.93 feet)
Beam: 3.35m (11.0 feet) Draft: 1.07m (3.5 feet)
Engine Details: Twin 75hp 4 cylinder D Series Ford (Year approx.1971)
Transmission Details: V Drive
Fuel Capacity: 800 litres Water Capacity: 200 litres
Hull Construction: Single skin kauri planked
Deck Construction: Composite Teak/Cedar planked (Fibreglass Skinned)
5 berths, Colour GPS / chart plotter / fish finder, VHF, Stereo, H & C pressure water, gas califont, shower, large freezer (12v) SS Refrigerator (12v), twin rudders, game chair, gas bottle
Matira was designed and built for Stuart Hopwood in 1955 by Alex Collings of Collings & Bell. Launched in 1956 she was one of the last motor yachts built by the company before they ceased business. She was originally fitted with twin Gray Marine (GM) petrol engines and at the time of launching would have been considered a most impressive boat on the Auckland Harbor.
The subsequent owner was Peter Burns who owned her from 1959 to 1963.
Keith Hardley became the new proud owner in 1963, trading her for a lakeside property on Lake Tarawera. She was kept initially at Westhaven and later in the upper Tamaki River and was enjoyed by the family for a couple of seasons with little modification except for the installation of some four hundredweight of lead ingots of trim ballast. The lead weight placed in the bow was designed to improve the handling in a following sea. The rudders were subsequently increased in size at a later date.
In those days Matira’s head was a conventional household toilet which flushed through a large hole just below water level. After use a large rotary pump was operated to fill the cistern for the next user.
The seatbacks in the salon were hinged along the top edge and could be pulled up on tackle to make additional pipe berths.
After an otherwise uneventful weekend away cruising and when departing Islington Bay for home Mrs. Hardley slipped off the narrow side deck and had to be retrieved over the stern. It is unclear whether it was the unintentional swim or the mirth of her siblings but Matira was subsequently sold at the end of that season and was replaced by larger sailing yacht.
Vern Petersen became the new owner in 1965. It is believed that he widened the side decks and added area to the bottom of the rudders to improve her steering.
Bob Green, 1967 – 1969
Fred Cotterill purchased the Matira in 1969, operating her for many years as a sports fishing boat out of Tutakaka. Fred was a colorful character, owner of the local garage/hardware store. He had the boat available for fishing charters for a number of years where it became well known with there being many tales of his exploits. The boat was known as a ‘lucky’ boat, seldom returning without a good catch. Later in 1986 it was still being used for charter cruises around the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland harbor.
It was during his ownership that the engines were changed to the current 75hp 4 cylinder Ford diesels. He fitted new electronics, a deep freezer and hot water system plus a bait tank and outriggers. An aft boarding platform and handrails were added for the charter work.
After his retirement Fred kept the Matira in the Clevedon River, making the voyage back to Tutakaka as often as his health allowed.
Bryce Strong bought the boat after Fred’s death in 1999 and owned the boat for ten years. He did a major refit in a boatshed in Clevedon and later moved the boat to Westharbour
Steve & Wendy Marten purchased Matira in November 2009 berthing her at the Buckland’s Beach Yacht club marina. During the restoration of Matira a teak capped handrail was added and she was maintained for family cruising and fishing in the Hauraki Gulf.
Work carried out since purchasing Matira in 2009:
- Complete interior and exterior repaint including varnished coamings and hatches.
- Full engine refurbishment (new water pumps / manifold / reconditioned both ’V’ drive gearboxes / fitted new engine mounts)
- Comprehensive electrical rewire, new batteries / GPS chart plotter / fish finder and VHF
- New 12v galley fridge and separate 12v chest freezer
- New upholstery throughout saloon, forward cabin and cockpit area
- Installed transom doors / new teak floors in large cockpit area and boarding platform
- New aft canvas covers.
- SS Dingy and bait board bracket fitted on boarding platform.
- Reinstated the wooden mast..
COLLINGS & BELL BOATBUILDERS
Charles Collings served his time with Robert Logan senior and later joined the Clare brothers in their boatbuilding business in St Mary’s Bay around 1901 as a designer. He soon took over the business, which became Collings & Bell in 1909, and which went on to built thousands of small craft. Initially building small launches for farmers for the servicing of coastal farms and then later many diverse types of pleasure boats and workboats for use in New Zealand and about the Pacific Islands. He later specialised in the design and construction of mullet boats, building yachts which were amongst the best of their time. However, the firm soon began concentrating on motor launches, particularly Collings’ square-bilge planing hulls for racing, whale chasing and game fishing.
Charles Collings died in 1946 just a few months short of 77 years of age. Throughout his time in Auckland Charles served the sport of yachting, as Commodore of the North Shore Sailing Club, Officer of the Home Bay Sailing Club, Commodore of the N.Z. Power Boat Association, Commodore of the Ponsonby Cruising Club and as officers of their clubs and the Auckland Regatta. However his greatest service to yachting was in association with the late Frank Chalmers, securing the construction of what is now the Westhaven Boat-harbour.
The business continued under the control of his son Alex J Collings until 1957 when the site was required for the motorway approach for the new Auckland Harbour Bridge. Tragically many of the records were lost subsequently in a fire although some of the original plans and drawings exist and are now held at the Auckland Maritime Museum.
Jack Taylor who had worked for Collings and Bell during the 1940s and early 50’s recalled “Charlie was a difficult man to work for, with a critical eye and very high standards. He was a perfectionist, he would swell out the hammer marks in the timbers and would check everything by eye and was constantly fussing and re-fairing. Many an apprentice felt the cut of his sharp tongue and sought the relative refuge of the bilge of some boat with a large brush and a tin of Red Lead. Only the best could stick it and work for him for any period of time.”
“The old shed positioned in St Mary’s bay beside the Ponsonby wharf had a dirt floor with only the most basic of heavy machinery for splitting and dressing the large Kauri logs. Much of the work was done with hand tools. Boats were built on the slipway in remarkably short time and launched without fuss. The wharf had petrol bowsers on the end of it as pretty much all boats launched in those days had petrol engines.”
“Towards the end of his life Charlie was confined to a wheelchair and would come to the yard to watch and supervise from a corner of the floor. Jack recalls one time when he was building an 8ft dingy, “They were standard issue with each boat delivered from the yard.” he said, “Charlie parked his chair close to the transom where he could observe me at work. He sat there every day puffing on his pipe in silence for whole the week and when it was finished he finally uttered “You build a fine dingy lad!”
Charlie’s son Alex came up to Jack and said “I believe that’s a compliment Jack – I’ve worked 40 years for my father and that is the first time I have ever heard him pay a compliment to anyone!”
Jack left the employment of Collings and Bell before the Matira was built but at the age of 89 came out of retirement to help Steve Marten survey the boat prior to purchasing her in November 2009.
Matira is currently for sale & the owner (Steve Martin) can be contacted on 021 530 859
Harold Kidd Update
A couple of little things to add to this excellent piece;
1 Dave Jackson worked on her construction at Collings & Bell.
2. Charles Collings didn’t actually “serve his time” with Robert Logan. He qualified as an engineer first and designed and built bridges and other structures on the goldfields at Waitekauri and Karangahake before coming to Auckland where he worked as a tradesman for Robert Logan Sr. in Freemans Bay until joining the Clare brothers in St. Mary’s Bay after the death of their father James Clare in 1902.