NZ Historic Ships
A database of historic New Zealand Ships and Boats

June 1946 by United Ship & Boatbuilders Ltd., Fanshawe Street yard, Auckland.
Original owners
N.Z. Dept. of Agriculture
Present owners
Mr. John Hager, Auckland
22 gross
L ft/13.71 m; B ft/m; D ft/m.
Original use
Present use
For sale in Picton, August 2005
Contact Details
Contact name

John Hager, Auckland

Web site

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Matiu is one of a large class of wooden tow-boats built in Australia and New Zealand for the U.S. and British forces during 1943-46, to Australian Shipbuilding Board plans but modified slightly in N.Z. to better suit local methods and materials. The Americans ordered 50 of these tow-boats from N.Z., and Auckland boat-builders formed a consortium to build them at a Government-owned newly-built shipyard at Freemans Bay, Auckland. The first 25 were for the U.S. Army, and the 2nd 25 were for the U.S. Navy. United Ship & Boatbuilders Ltd. completed them all in 1943-1946, and all fifty went to the South and South West Pacific. In 1944 the British Ministry of War Transport ordered 24 more, but progress was slow due to shortage of materials, etc.,and at war's end in August 1945, only 14 of the 24 had been laid down. No.s 1-12 were completed by June 1946 but No.s 13-24 were cancelled in 9/1945. About March 1946 the British decided the 12 were no longer required, so were handed over to the N.Z. Govt. for disposal. No.s 5-12 were sold to U.N.R.R.A. and shipped to Shanghai in 5/1947, to aid the replacement of Chinese shipping and fishing industries. No.s 1-4 were sold in N.Z. in 1947-48, and the partly-built 13 and 14 were also sold, for private completion. No.4 became Matiu, having been sold to Dept. of Agriculture in 4/1948. Completed in Auckland in June 1946 by United Ship & Boat Builders Ltd., at the Fanshawe Street yard, the 13.71 metre length and 22.25 gross tonnage wooden (oregon pine) tug/workboat was purchased in 1948 by the Department of Agriculture for use at Somes Island in Wellington harbour. She was named after the original Maori name of the island, was shipped to Wellington later in 1948, and arrived at Somes on 6 October 1948. Her original diesel engine was an Atlas Imperial, but in 1960 she was re-engined with a Dorman, and was re-engined again in 1973 with a GM Detroit. Matiu was used to carry MAF staff and stores to and from the island, as well as vehicles, animals and animal feed necessary to run the quarantine station. In July 1995, Somes Island, which had been the site of an animal quarantine station since February 1889, ceased to be used as a quarantine station, and passed from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to the Department of Conservation, who planned to make the island more accessible to the public. From the first weekend in August 1995, the public had open access to Somes, and 90 people visited on 5 August, and more than 150 on 6 August. The Trustbank Ferry incorporated calls to the wharf at Somes Island in the course of her scheduled sailings between Queens Wharf and Days Bay, and thus Matiu became surplus to requirements, and was advertised for sale for $93,000. Tenders closed on 7 August, and on 24 August 1995, it was announced that Matiu had been sold to Mr. John Hagar, a commercial skipper of charter yachts and small passenger ferries on Auckland harbour, and also a veteran boat enthusiast. Matiu was intended to be used as a passenger vessel and for charter work in the Hauraki Gulf, and would be berthed in Auckland's inner harbour. Matiu made her last voyage from Somes Island to Queens Wharf on 1 September 1995, and was then laid up at Waterloo Quay Wharf, where she was handed over to her new owner on 5 September.
NZ Marine News, Vol. 44, No.4

August 2005, alongside launch jetties in Picton.

Conversion factors Feet = Metres x 3.281
Metres = Feet ÷ 0.3048




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