Ex 1930’s Pilot Boat

Ex 1930’s PILOT BOAT 

Todays woody was built by L C Coulthard, Onehunga in 1931 for the New Plymouth Harbour Board. Not sure of her name, possibly still called – ‘Pilot’ 36’ in length, these days she resides in Houhora, at the top of the North Island.

Interested to learn more about her and what powers her these days, looks like she could get along with that hull.

Photo below as launched. The photos come to us from John Dawson ex Graeme Kearney fb.

INPUT ex Paul Nattrass –

“Launch Pilot ” was her surveyed name but even more simply “Pilot ^ call sign.
Back in the early to mid 90s I was working for Sea-Tow Ltd barging coal into New Plymouth and said to the senior pilot that I would like to buy her he said that I would never get the opportunity, someone from the port would get her. however couple years later in a tender I made sure that I did just to prove him wrong.
The late Graeme Wigg and I steamed her round the top to Houhora
Had a 4 cylinder ford that I later changed to a 6.
The Capital Gbox 2:1 bolted straight on.
Has been a great predictable little work vessel that has taken on the new role of game boat with distinction that “Sucks up the fish”


MV Tauranga


Recently I was contacted by Darren and Toni Anger, the owners of the ex workboat – MV Tauranga – below is Darren’s note to WW

“We have owned Tauranga for a couple of years now and we would love to hear any stories out there about her. The above photos of her show the different cabin configurations from her original to now.

Tauranga was built 1957 by Miller and Tunnage, Timaru for the Tauranga Harbour Boards pilot vessel.  During her time in April 1982 she was stolen and run aground at Matakana Island, Tauranga Harbour Board completed a major refit and refastening of the hull, she continued her pilot duties until around 1990.

When sold to private ownership she was sailed to Havelock Marlborough Sounds for her pleasure vessel refit which was completed approximately 2004, this is when we first saw her in Havelock Marina at the start of our own world circumnavigation.  

2020 we returned to Havelock to settle and saw Tauranga for sale, she now spends her days cruising the Sounds or on her mooring in Kaiuma Bay.

Tauranga is still powered by her original 8 cylinder Gardner.”

So woodys, can we help out with any tales from the workboat days and then the period starting 2004 > 2020 when Darren and Toni bought her.


“When I joined the Bay of Plenty Harbour Board as harbour pilot in 1982, Tauranga was in the middle of her major refit at the port slipway at Sulphur Point. She was outside but under a temporary cover while the 8 cylinder Gardiner was in one corner of the adjacent shed and the wheelhouse in the other corner. The relief pilot boat in use was the chartered Whitianga based fishing boat Defender. When Defender had to be returned to her owner after Tauranga’s refurbishment was prolonged the Mount Maunganui based fishing boat Sea Bee was chartered and used until Tauranga was ready for service again.

When built in 1959 by Doug Robb in Timaru Tauranga was fitted with a towing hook just aft of the forward mounted wheelhouse. The port did not own a tug at that time so some towing and ship assist duties would have been necessary in her early days. The arrival of the ports first tug Mount Maunganui in 1960 would have alleviated this requirement somewhat.

The refurbishment in 1982 followed the theft from her berth and subsequent beaching on the sea side of Matakana Island in 1979, I don’t think they had turned on the fuel. This second refurbishment following the incident gave the opportunity to move the wheelhouse from forward to aft now that towing requirements had long gone. This was a great success resulting in a large clear area of deck for the pilot and deck hand to operate in when alongside a ship always under the watchful eye of the launch master. The decision was also made to paint the hull and wheelhouse top rescue orange to aid in the easier identification of the boat by ships masters. This was a little controversial and non traditional but proved very successful and it is now normal for pilot boats world wide to have strong colour recognition.

The growing port saw the 9 knot displacement speed of Tauranga to be somewhat of a disadvantage and in 1985 the 18 knot Tauranga 11 arrived. An alloy Striker design built by the then Wanganui Engineering, now QWest, she relogated Tauranga to standby pilot boat. She enjoyed a somewhat sedate life in this role until being replaced in 1999 by a newly built 12m Naiad hydrographic survey launch which was also set up for piloting duties.
Tauranga was put up for sale and departed under new ownership for Doves Bay in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands.

This ended 40 years of very successful service at the port in Tauranga.”

Tiakina – A visitor from Dunedin

TIAKINA – A Visitor from Dunedin

I was sent the above photo of Tiakina by Lindsay McMorran, they took the photo of her berth in the Viaduct, Auckland.Lindsay commented that she is an ex Wellington pilot boat, built c.1952 and her normal home port is Dunedin. Tiakina is visiting Auckland for the A-Cup regatta.

Anyone able to enlighten us on her background / past?

Input from John Bullivant – another photo below of Tiakina. John also commented that she may have been built in the UK.

Input and photos below from Cameron Pollard – She was built in the UK. After being disposed of by Wellington Harbour Board she did a stint as a tuna longliner.Refit to pleasure use was done at Jorgensen boat yard.

A couple of photos below – I took today at the Viaduct

Input from Paul Drake – TIAKINA (to take care of) designed by Alex Collings and built by M,W. Blackmore and Son in Bideford England, planked with 52mm makore and powered with two ERL 5/75 Crossleys, each 250hp. She departed Exmouth on October 1 1953 with a crew of eight and arrived Wellington February 12 1954. She required slipping at Colombo after weather damage crossing the Arabian Sea. Voyage distance was about 14,100 nm (26,000km). At 83 feet LOA and 80 tonnes, she was the largest pilot boat on the NZ coast. After just two years service she required major remedial work due to ‘green’ timber being used in her construction. This work took nearly two years and was done by Wellington Harbour Board’s shipwright staff. In 1982 she was extensively rebuilt and re configured by Jorgenson’s of Picton and continued in service. In 1992 she was retired and sold to Auckland owners for a bargain price. She was used for fishing etc before ending up in Dunedin where she fell on better times and is now clearly well loved and transformed into a luxury charter boat. As a retired Wellington pilot, it is heartwarming to see a boat I knew so well still giving good service after nearly 70 years.

18-03-2021 Input from Captain Charles Smith – Like Paul Drake’s fine comments above, I am similarly heartened to see that Tiakina is being well looked after and regularly used. I can add a little to the history. I commenced a 48 year piloting career on Wellington Harbour as skipper of Tiakina in 1972 before being promoted and I experienced many severe conditions and hard knocks whilst on board. Having experienced many other pilot vessels she was firmly my favourite. Tiakina suited the robust sea conditions at Wellington entrance. She was built to last although the constant knocks alongside ships at sea eventually took their toll with framing, particularly on the shoulders. Assembling construction timbers took time. Timbers used included 52mm thick makore hull sheathing, heart pohutukawa branch was used on the stem and stern crooks and the keel was one length of heart tallowwood or ironbark. Being severely tested in daily service it took a team of shipwrights to keep her in service. Heart kauri was used in many places. The nineteen week voyage from the UK via Suez, and north Australia (30 September 1953 to 12 February 1954) was made without the benefit of radar, AIS, PPUs, gyro compass or ECDIS – just skill and a magnetic compass by the eight crew. The contract made by the Wellington Harbour Board was for a price of £35,000 with £5,000 allowed for the delivery voyage. The Harbour Board sought quotations from builders in NZ and Australia before settling on M W Blackmore in Bideford UK. Radar was fitted on arrival in Wellington at a cost of £1,590. Tiakina was constructed to operate in open water conditions off the port entrance after pilotage was deemed to be compulsory from 1 October 1952 (after a collision between two large ships in the entrance channel in May 1950). With port managers at the time having lived through WW2, Tiakina was also designed to be a cruising examination vessel in times of hostility, hence her generous accommodation.

YESTERDAYS MYSTERY LAUNCH QUIZ WINNER – Albert Birnie, Onehunga. The correct answer was – Cyrena, built in 1923 by Dick Lang for Peter Smith

Koputai – Work Boat Conversion


Requests for info on boat on WW can be a lot like paying the pokie machines – you ‘feed’ the machine and pull the handle – sometimes it spins and nothing comes up, most of the time we get a small payout, just enough to keep us motivated to keep playing – then sometimes you hit the jackpot.

Today’s story is a jackpot pay out – starts like this – over the last 5>6 years the 1939, 56′, Miller & Tunnage built – Koputai has popped up on WW and we have been trying uncover more of her history. Back in May 2015 she was for sale and the then owner, the late, Louey Sandiant told us everything you would want to know about the photo + photos. Then in Sept 2020 Keith Foster, who purchased Koputai off Louey contacted WW and supplied some updated photos and a request for any further intel on the boat.

It took a few months but Matt Siddells made contact and advised that his grandfather – Russell Bramwell purchased Koputai as a retired pilot boat and did the conversion to pleasure boat. Matt has very kindly shared the gallery above of photos from the family album. You can see and read more about Koputai at the WW links below

2015    https://waitematawoodys.com/2015/05/03/koputai-sailing-sunday/
2020    https://waitematawoodys.com/2020/09/06/koputai/

Tautane (>Centaurus)


TAUTANE (>Centaurus)

The above photo of Tautane was sent to me by her owner Clare Robinson, Clare is hoping that we can uncover more on her past.

What we know is that she is a Miller & Tunnage, completed in 1945 or 1946, operated as fishing vessel for a time and then was purchased by the Napier Harbour Board as their pilot boat and renamed Tautane. Sometime during her tenure there, a Detroit 6-71 manufactured in 1963 was fitted to replace a lower power Gardner.

She was purchased by Colin Davenport in about 1993 and was used to ferry guests out to Endeavour Inlet in Queen Charlotte Sound and for day fishing and diving charters. Colin added the canopy.

Clare bought her in June 2017 and is in the process of converting her to a live-a-board.

The photo shows Tautane as she is currently, sitting at Picton wharf next to the ferry terminal in May 2017. Clare has advised the boat is now named – Serenity.

Do we have any more information on? Russell W you must be able to help?

Input from Russell Ward – below are two photos of the ship one as originally launched – Centaurus and the other being used as she should be. More details in the ww Comments Section.

Update 15-05-2020 Line drawings below sent in by Murray Wikinson. Brian Engliss ex Miller & Tunnage foreman sent them to Brian years ago. Andrew Miller of St Leonards designed the hull for Miller & Tunnage. Murray owns a near sistership “Golden Light”.

Serenity (ex Tautane)


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Wairangi has appeared before on ww (link below) but has recently had a big dose of TLC. The above photos are a mix of some taken by owner Owen Foster (via KRickets) while anchored at Rakino Island & mine that show her over Easter anchored in Man o War Bay, Waiheke Island. The newly varnished cabin/wheelhouse looks stunning & combined with a lot of other work, she looks very special – in fact I would be happy to call her mine 🙂

Also looking very smart in one of the photos is Safari, her owner Neil took the below photo of Raindance during the Sunday afternoon squall that hit the bay mid afternoon – rain, hail, wind = boats dragging their anchor all over the bay – fun & games but no damage.



11-08-2018 Update – Photos below taken by Owen Foster using a drone, while at anchor at Oneroa, Waiheke Island. emailed in by Ken Ricketts

Update 19-07-2019 ex model maker John Whyte

Back in February I was contacted by John Whyte seeking info on Wairangi, John was doing the drawings of Wairangi for model maker Paul Berntsen (Havelock North). Earlier today John sent me the photos below of Paul’s finished model. John commented that the wharf behind it is a 1.34 scale model of the Opua wharf which measures just over 6 metres in length. John plans to build a lower wharf for the pilot boat with a ladder coming of the higher wharf.
The boat measures around 450mm long and 110mm wide.
Paul is obviously very talented, I struggle maintaining my own boat – building  something like this would be a recipe for disaster for me 🙂
Wairangi 1





I was contacted recently by Greg McNabb looking for info / photos on his & wife Maria’s ex pilot boat Mananui. From what Greg knows / has been told – she was built in 1913 by Harvey & Lang. Greg’s grandfather & father bought her (ex Whitianga) in 1973. She is powered by a 120hp D series Ford and has been for the last 50 years or so, although rebuilt.
The ‘old’ photo of her sitting on the grid was taken in Whitianga on the day the family purchased her. She was originally commissioned by Edward Parish and back then named ‘Heare Mai’.

From the above photos we can see that Greg has done a wonderful  refit on her. These days her home port is Tauranga.
So woodys can we shed any light on her life pre. 1973?

Photo below at Sulphur Point Marina, Tauranga ex Paul Drake



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Strathallan was the name given to this Miller & Tunnage, kauri carvel built, double ender, ex pilot boat by the Timaru Harbour Board. She measures 46’6”” LOA & draws 6’5”. The traditional Scottish boat builder, Doug Robb built Strathallan in 1955 at his Timaru yard.

As you would expect from an ex work-boat the engine room is impressive & dominated by the 190hp, 8L3B Gardner. With a displacement of approx. 20 tons and being driven by the classic Gardner with a 3.1 transmission gives her a cruising speed of 8.5 knots at 810 rpm and max speed of approx. 10 knots at 990 rpm. Her size, design & power unit make her a powerful strong seaworthy vessel.

After being decommissioned as a work-boat in the 1990s she was converted to a cruising vessel. The main saloon, galley & engine room have full headroom & her walk-around decks are perfect for fishing. One of the hangovers from her commercial days is the exterior head with the door facing the stern; I can personally vouch for the view J

Strathallan is currently for sale & would be an ideal vessel for the boat owner who wants a classic, traditional boat that is a part of New Zealand’s maritime history. The asking price I understand is <$80k & at that price would be a good buy & still have the potential for a new owner to add their own touch to the boat in terms of decor.

Photo below was taken at Mahurangi Regatta (2012?) by Chris Miller – slightly different paint ‘job’ back then.



Waitemata – Pilot Cutter






WAITEMATA – Pilot Cutter
photos ex Hylton Edmonds via Ken Rickettts

The above photo gallery shows the 58′ ex Auckland Harbour Board pilot cutter Waitemata from when first launched to her refit to pleasure vessel & as she is today. Her ‘sister’ ship Akarana has featured numerous times on ww.

I’m sure Hylton & others will chip in with more details on her.

Photo below ex Nathan Herbert

Waitemata - now

UPDATE 04-10-2021 Photo below ex Dean Wright of – Waitemata on her mooring up the Te Puna Inlet, B.O.I.


photo ex Dean Wright

The above photos show the launch Pilot competing in the Whangaroa Classic Boats Game Fishing Contest. She was based up in Houhora at that time. Not a lot of brain cells were used up when they named her, as in her previous life she used to be the pilot boat in New Plymouth 🙂

I’m keen to learn a little more about her, anyone able to help?

More photos from Dean taken in 2007. At the time she was owned by Paul Nattrass.