Waratah Needs A New Home


Back in Oct 2014 the launch – Waratah popped up on WW, at the time she was 4sale on trademe and the WW story generate a lot of chat in the comments section – link below https://waitematawoodys.com/2014/10/06/waratah/

We learnt that she was 28’9” in length, built in c.1924 by Alf Bell and was named All Bell when launched. Amusing story around the name in the 2014 story.

Back in 2014 Waratah was needing some serious interior fit out and TLC but afloat, photos below.

Fast forward to 2023 and she has become a restoration that started but came to an abrupt halt. Waratah is currently stored near Kerikeri, Northland and her owner Kevin O’Donnell would like to move her on, at no cost, to someone that will take on the project. The time frame is ‘quick smart’ as Waratah is resting in the exact spot as to where a house is going.

Interested parties can contact Kevin at kevinodonnell496@gmail.com


Boat name and approx crew numbers – waitematawoodys@gmail.com


photo ex Mac Taylor Collection. Details ex Harold Kidd

Cyrena (on the left in the photo above) was built by Peter A Smith, the Alpha marine engine agent in St. Mary’s Bay for himself in 1923. Like W R Twigg, Smith contracted to build launches, his input being the engine which usually cost over half the total price. He contracted out hulls to local builders, usually those handy to his premises in St. Mary’s Bay. This hull was built by Dick Lang before he left for Sydney during the transition of his business to Sam Ford so Sam Ford took some credit in advertising. She was 37ft x 9ft and was fitted with a 25hp Alpha (Danish) engine. Smith named her Cyrena and she was launched around Christmas 1923.
Smith sold her to the Manukau in September 1924. F G “Boy” Bellve of Herne Bay bought her and brought her back to the Waitemata in January 1926 and had her until he commissioned the keel yacht Cyrena from Collings & Bell in late 1938.

Bellve sold the launch Cyrena to A M White of Ngatapa, Gisborne who renamed her Maritza and had her trucked over to Lake Waikaremoana on 6-7 October 1938.

Whats say the woodys re the dark hulled launch on the right on the photo above? And the yachts E24 & A17 ?
The photo below ex classicboatsnz shows her being launched at Lake Waikaremoana.

Harold Kidd Input

E24 is LOLOMA, my old boat and Jason’s too. The twist in her counter is quite evident. She got it when she was teeboned in a race at Whangarei in January 1915 and cut to the waterline. The repairs to her double-diagonal hull starboard amidships were botched. It took me a lot of effort to (almost) get rid of it 70 years later. She was built by J.J. O’Rorke as WARATAH at Arch Hill in late 1909 as a transom-sterned 26 footer with a varnished hull but had a solid counter fitted shortly afterwards,
A17 is NGA TOA built by Colin Wild for the Winstone brothers in 1926. Oddly enough, Boy Bellve, who owned the launch CYRENA and later the Collings & Bell yacht CYRENA, bought NGA TOA with A.G. Taylor in 1946 and owned her almost until he died.

25-09-2016 – photo below from the Tudor Collins collection, emailed to me by Ken Ricketss.




Waratah is a 28’9” kauri launch built in 1924 by Alf Bell & when launched was called ‘All Bell’. The name has an amusing twist to it in that All Bell refers to the fact that the boat had no ‘Collings’ in her i.e. Alf Bell had no time for his former business partner Chas. Collings (Collings & Bell).

Waratah is powered by a 60hp Izuzu diesel & cruises at approx. 8 knots. Currently in the middle of a ‘rolling restoration’ she is in good running order & for sale on trademe.

Harold Kidd Update

Alf Bell was a boatbuilder and a crack engineer as well. He did all of the engine installations when he was a partner in Collings & Bell. He left the firm to go to Walsh Bros’ flying boat school at Kohimarama during WW1, doing the aero engine work there.
I had the privilege of clearing out the basement of his house in St Mary’s Bay many years ago as he was a distant relative. Several of the high quality engines and transmissions I found there are now motoring eg a very early single cylinder Cadillac engine which drove a bandsaw, the wheels of which were de Dion Bouton wooden-spoked veteran road wheels. There was a 1912 Wolseley complete from radiator to diff. Beautiful stuff. Any many other treasures.
ALL BELL was a fast boat as Alf fitted her with a 6 cylinder Sunbeam engine early in her career.

09-12-2015 – An amusing update
Karen Goa’s husband Ken (who’s a boat builder) has always admired the launch Waratah. Some years ago we were lucky enough to have access to her, so we spent some happy hours pootling around the harbour.
For his 60th birthday recently (the week the Waratah sold on TradeMe), we had a big house party – with a ‘Waratah’ cake, photo attached. It was delicious.


01-01-2016 Input from previous owner Alastair MacKenzie

“I lived in Schoolhouse Bay for a few years from about 1964 . I worked for Herman Holdings (an offshoot of Herman Timber Co. of Whangarei). Charlie Herman owned most of the land from Schoolhouse Bay across to the Coppermine and down to Sth. Harbour and my job involved logging pine to be barged to the mill at Whangarei as logs, wharf piles and farm posts etc. We (that is Barney Mahanga and I) also largely built the wharf and laid the foundation for the motels on the bay beachfront.

I looked around for a vessel for my family and I to explore further and go fishing and found the launch Waratah in the next bay around toward Mansion House. She had been used for long line fishing and had copper tanks under the bunks, was rather untidy and as I recall things didn’t work for the then owner who left her with the folk in the next bay from us to sell.
She was powered by a Chrysler Crown marine petrol engine (very thirsty !) and had keel cooling tubes. I tidied her up – she had a mast in those days tho’ no bow rail and she was pretty smart and reliable. As I recall she had a beam of about 6′ 6″ and tho’ very seaworthy would roll like the dickens in a side swell.
There was no schooling available in those days so when my family and I left the island I took the Waratah across and left her with the boat builder (forgotten his name) at Sandspit, who sold her for me.

ps Barney and wife Lucy lived in the old Schoolhouse and my family and I in the house a hundred m. or so up the hill from the wharf. An elderly couple (the Sowerbys) lived in an old homestead just to the left off the wharf.”