Neville Robinson Launches



I was recently contacted by Neil Mosley regarding the two photos above of launches built by Neville Robinson – top photo is Harmony and bottom is Largo. Neil commented that he didn’t know much about the man but he was quite well known at some stage. The bigger boat – Harmony is owned by John Gow and spends most of summer moored at the bottom end of Waiheke. The smaller boat is – Largo and owned by Neil and kept at Havelock.

Anyone able to tell us more about the builder – Neville Robinson and what other craft he built.

INPUT FROM PAUL DRAKE“Neville Robinson was foreman mechanic (or similar) with the old Wellington Harbour Board for a very long time. May have served his time there I think. He built at least one other boat apart from LARGO and MELODY. Can’t recall her name but she became a crayfish boat out of Ngawi. He was a meticulous boat builder and his boats were very well engineered. He had a hand in re engineing TUNA (of WW fame) when she was in service with the Wellington Harbour Board (later CentrePort Wellington). He was a quietly spoken, gentlemanly sort of guy. His brother was a tug master on Wellington Harbour for many years, having previously been master of the police launch LADY ELIZABETH 2.”

01-10-2022 INPUT FROM MARIE BREDEN “Hi, I’m Neville Robinson’s daughter, Marie. A friend of Dad’s shared this post with me and so I’ve been searching my memory banks trying to remember all of Dad’s launches.
Paul is correct, Dad worked for Wellington Harbour Board all his working life, he was a motor mechanic but his passion was wood work.
My first memory of Dad’s boat building was when he built a speedboat in our garage.
He named it Cee Bee II and was very successful in his racing days.
He built/altered 6 launches that I can recall. The first boat he built was “Marco Polo”, built in our backyard for some local fishermen. Next was Music, built from scratch, as a family we spent many hours in the boat shed building her. Unfortunately she caught fire and burnt to the waterline. Dad managed to get his hands on some of the burnt timber and made a scale model incorporating the timber into the finished piece. After Music, and I think I’ve got the order correct, was Harmony, Souza, Largo and finally Coda. Jim Carey, previously from Picton, built the hull for Harmony and it was sailed across and finished in Wellington by Dad, and possibly another but I can’t remember sorry. Coda was purchased in Picton, the wheelhouse was removed and rebuilt by Dad, giving it his look and practicality.
Dad passed away in 2018 but he’d be chuffed to think he was still getting the odd mention for his boats.”

YESTERDAYS WOODY QUIZ WINNER – the winner is K Ricketts.

The correct answers were #A Rehutai #B Movaire – as to the identity of #C , that folks remains a mystery 🙂 Had a great number of entries but most unfortunately were way off the mark.

As always I’m indebted to the mind of Nathan Herbert for helping confirm the launch names.

Gil Littler emailed in the observations and photo below

“I believe the photo is 1980, or maybe late-1970s. I say this because the wooden dividing fence between Shipbuilders (from where the photo was taken) and Baileys has already been demolished to make way for what became Orams hardstand. See the photo below taken c.1981 with the old ferries (Toroa and Peregrine) about to be buried in the Z Pier reclamation. The fishing boat Baileys converted to a  pleasure boat is in both photos.”

Toroa – Gets A Birthday


TOROA – Gets A Birthday

Back in 2014 Toroa made an apperanace on WW (link below) and generated a lot interest in the comments section. What we learned was that she was built by Chas Bailey & Sons c.1950’s, is 28’ in length (including the hanging off bits at both ends) with a 9’ beam of and a draft of 2’6”. Constructed of kauri, in 1966 she was bought by Coastguard and used until 1968 as a patrol boat and training vessel. The price was 4000 pounds paid for with the assistance of the ASB Bank and the Golden Kiwi lottery. What became of her after 1968 is a tad cloudy but owners may have been, John Cheswass / Water Keen / Michael McMahon.

In approx. May 2014 Brian & Judy Simpson purchased the launch and transported her to Lake Taupo, where she remained for the last  6 1/2 years, before being hauled out for some TLC that included a repaint and anti-foul. Brian advised that Toroa was recently slipped back into the lake after the refurbishment which was done by Judy and Brian, under the watchful eye of Larry Palmer, boat painter extraordinaire at Taupo Marina. Larry also trailer-ed Toroa out of and back into the lake. 

Toroa is powered by a 4 cylinder, 4L Ford diesel engine, fitted in the 1980’s. She uses around 4 litres an hour at 1700 revs achieving a comfortable cruising speed of 6-7 knots. In the top set of photos above she is looking very grand. In the 2nd set we see her being hauling out.


According to the ‘sales pitch’ given to Toroa’s new owner, Brian Simpson, she was built by Chas Bailey & Sons in the 1950’s. Approx. 26′ long & built of kauri.
Toroa spent it’s life in Auckland until Brian moved it to Taupo 5 months ago.
Any information about it’s history would be much appreciated.

Photo below ex Derek Molander – Caption – Watch officer Ces Todd and a party of cadets in 1967.  The Coast Guard cutter Toroa lies at anchor behind them.