Movarie the 1938, W & G Lowe built bridge decker has just popped up on tme, she is a very well built woody with an amazing pedigree.

One of the better woodys around – Russel Ward, once owned her – RW has a good eye and nose for great boats – BUT, she will sit on tme for a long time, because the seller hasn’t posted any photos and the only details are as below.

Worth checking out, a buyer could get a bargain with the current listing details. Previous WW story here (lots of photos & chat)



KAIWAKA – Work Boat Wednesday

Kaiwaka was launched in 1937, by W G Lowe, Auckland & was used as a lighter to overseas ships at the port of Wanganui. She was taken over in March 1941 after the last meat loading at the port, which with other smaller ports was closed to overseas shipping as a wartime measure. She sailed to Auckland with a naval crew, converted to a Danlayer, with some mine sweeping gear fitted & commissioned 21/5/41 & given the pennant No T14.

She went to Fiji in March 1942 & worked with the flotilla there laying defensive minefields, until returning to Auckland six weeks later. She made several visits to Wellington, working as a Danlayer there till June 1941, then worked as a minesweeper in Hauraki Gulf to May 1944 when clearing the defensive fields began. Her war service as a Danlayer ended in Sept 1945.

She was handed back to the Marine Department in Nov 1945 & refitted, completing this in March 1946. There were wrangles over compensation as it was claimed substandard kauri was used in her construction and she had a poor hull condition. The matter went to Cabinet and a payment of 50,000 pounds in full settlement was approved July 1947 & she did not return to Wanganui, instead becoming a lighter at Gisborne in 1949, but not sold to them till Oct 1953. The new port there made her redundant in 1967, sold in March 1968 to Tauranga for private use. Sold again, had a helicopter pad fitted at the stern and used in Fiordland venison recovery 1973. To Oamaru in 1974, Auckland 1977, and last heard of in Matauwhi Bay, Bay of Islands in 1986.

Ken Ricketts feels the photo above was taken off Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island. The wartime minesweeping fleet regularly used the island as an anchorage.

Geoff Brebner commented that In the latter part of the 1970’s, she was moored in the upper Tamaki River, with her mast drastically shortened in order to navigate the Panmure Bridges. She was later taken north, and he believes she may have been taken to sea and scuttled.

Can anyone confirm the fate of Kaiwaka?

Thanks to Geoff Brebner, Chris Rabey & Ken Ricketts for the detailed intel & photo

12-11-2019 Input from Peter Grant – While looking through my old negative library, I came across the pictures below,  taken up north in about 2000 of the original “Kaiwaka”.



The Restoration of Akarana

Details & photos below ex Dick & Colleen Fisher. Edited by Alan Houghton. Above photo ex Dean Wright

Akarana was designed by A.J. Collings & built by W.G. Lowe in 1960 for the Port of Auckland. They sold her 34 years later in December 1994 to Peter McDonald of Whangarei, Peter (deceased) was a long time friend of Dick Fisher & Dick purchased Akarana off Peter in April 2000.
Akarana is built using single skin 1 ¾ inch thick Kauri planking on spotted gum ribs with a hardwood keel & her displacement is 42 ton. W.G. Lowe had the contract to build her & allowed 23,000 man hours for her construction. When Port of Auckland sold her in 1994 she was on engine #6,  having worn out 5 engines while working for the Auckland Harbour Board. From a couple of her log books that Dick has he would estimate that she has traveled somewhere between 600,000 + 700,000 miles during her working life as a pilot boat on Auckland harbour.
The 8L3B Gardner engine which Dick re-built  was originally installed in an oyster dredger based in Bluff. This engine was built by Gardners in 1960. The same year as Akarana. She cruises comfortably at 10 knots.
After purchasing her, Dick took Akarana to his workshop at Kamo & then constructed a shed over her. You will see from the photos that shed is a little bit of an understatement 🙂

The photos below will give you an insight into the scale of the project & the stamina, patience & dedication of Dick Fisher in undertaking this restoration. Akarana is a magnificent vessel & a visit to her engine room normally sees most males gob-smacked at the attention to detail & cleanliness that would equal the finest medical operating theaters.

In additional to being a very skilled artisan, Dick is just a seriously good bloke, he once drove down to Auckland from Whangarei so I could show a visiting classic boater from the USA, who was a Gardner nut, over Akarana. You would struggle to find a more hospitable couple afloat than Colleen & Dick Fisher.
One day I’ll post on ‘Hamel’ the Fisher families other wee ship 😉

I have captioned the images – scroll over to view, also remember you can enlarge a photo by clicking on it.

At the bottom of the post (part two), for your interest I have included some papers that Dick acquired from the old Auckland Harbour Board.

A.       Harbour masters comments prior to letting tenders.
B.       Some of the requirements for the construction of Akarana.
C.       AHB reviewing costs.
D.       Breakdown of building costs.
E.        Copy of daily log, note the totals for the month of July 1982 were 278 pilots, 510 hours running, & 2791 miles.

Photos below during her build at W.G. Lowe in 1960

As sold by Auckland Harbour Board – 1994

The restoration

Rebuilding the engine


Back in her happy place – April 2005

Supporting paperwork

Helm Photos


10-04-2018 Update – Photo below of Akarana on launching day. Photo sent in by Paul Drake, taken by his brother Michael.


Update 09-01-2021 – Photos below of Akarana in Kent Passage, Bay of Islands – 6th Jan , sent in by Grant Anson





words & photo ex Baden Pascoe

Tuhua formally Port Whakatane, built by W.G Lowe in 1937. Bruce Donaldson owns her but when they rebuilt her, whoever did it, must have been blind towards her shear line and other atributes. Hard to tell she is the same ship because she looked a honey when launched.

Harold Kidd Update:

She was indeed a neat little vessel. She had a 60hp Gardner diesel when first launched. I lived in Whakatane briefly in 1946-7 and had a trip to Whale Island on her. All I really remember was her very pleasant exhaust note and that the floor of the bay we anchored in was covered with a massive squadron of stingrays that flew in just as we were going to dive in after anchoring. I went on the annual trip taking Maori muttonbirders to the island in the season (November).



story & photos ex Russell Ward

Bridgedecker “Movarie” was built for W Macpherson by W & G Lowe St. Marys Bay and launched in 1938. I was told that she was largely the work of Cyril Tercel (Lew’s brother) who was not long out of his time. The Motor Boat and Yachting 17 June 1938 article records that she was built as a “game fishing vessel and was very successful”. It seems that WW2 got in the way of Macpherson’s plans and HDK elicited that he apparently died in 1953 back in England.

We are not sure of the origin of her name –Macpherson’s house in the UK was called “Movarie”. I had always assumed the name was a contraction of the daughters’ names -as were many boats names– but not so. Doubtless Harold will find out in time.

Macpherson sold “Movarie” to Vic and Robbie Sanders not long after launching and they had the wheelhouse lowered and a dodger put aft. It gave her a purposeful, striking and handsome appearance, but IMHO she is not pretty. Her hull is gorgeous though.

“Movarie” was chartered to the navy and served on offshore patrol duties for the duration of the war. The second picture shows her in this role. .

After the war, the Sanders kept her until 1956 and later bought “Lady Crossley”. “Mpvarie” kept her original 40hp Russell Newberry engines until 1960 when they were replaced with Fords. One of them still survives albeit rather rusty. You can still buy them in the UK though very expensively. Lovely engines and easy to live with, popular with the barge people. Despite what you might expect, her shafts were inward turning –outward turning gives maneuverability, inward gives power. Anyway she would handle as a twin-screw boat but just more ponderously. Our RNZN minesweepers “Inverell”, “Kiama”, “Echuca” and “Stawell” had the same arrangement and were a handful too as many captains found.

We owned “Movarie” for five years from 1996 –you will recall that, in another Woodies entry, I blamed my buying a fizz boat on Andrew Johns and “Ruamano”. I was sad that the last surviving Sanders brother had died not long before. His son John said he would have been delighted to talk about her and gave me a lot of information and a few family photos.

Frustrated by her run down state and machinery, I took her out of the water for a couple of months early ’97. I replaced the flogged out Fords with newer ones and took the opportunity to replace the fuel tanks, the tops of which were rusted through. I put new steering gear in, attended to some interior woodwork and generally tidied her up. I also put her back to the original type masts.

She is a magnificent sea boat we enjoyed her company.

09-04-2016 – photo added – Movarie & unknown game fishing boat. Photo ex Hylton Edmonds via Ken R.