The Writers Walk

Walkers are spoilt for choice in Oriental Bay. You can take a waterfront walk. You can choose a bush walk through the Town Belt. You can climb to the top of Mt Victoria. But have your spirits been lifted lately by taking the Writers Walk?

The Wellington Writers Walk, launched in 2002, consists of 23 text sculptures — bold concrete plaques and also ‘benchmarks’ with metal text inlaid into wood. They use quotes from authors past and contemporary. The lines chosen celebrate and commemorate the place of Wellington in these writers’ lives. They remind us why we love Wellington.

Start the walk at the Point Jerningham end of Oriental Parade in the little park there. Here Barbara Anderson (1926-2013), who lived in Oriental Parade, is commemorated with a lovely picture of what makes Wellington special:

Everything about it was good. The tugging wind trapped and cornered by buildings, steep short cuts bordered by Garden Escapes, precipitous gullies where throttling green creepers blanketed the trees beneath.

(Taken from ‘The Girls’ in I think we should go into the jungle, Victoria University Press, 1989)

The other Oriental Bay plaque celebrates Dame Fiona Kidman, using a quote from Speaking with my Grandmothers (Victoria University Press, 1999). It is on the sand near the rocky point, just beyond Freyberg Beach. It reads:

this town of ours kind of flattened
across the creases

of an imaginary map

a touch of parchment surrealism here
no wonder the lights
are wavering

all over the place

not a straight town at all

Continue along the waterfront, keeping a lookout for Marilyn Duckworth’s quote which is inscribed along the timber seats overlooking the lagoon. And so it goes on: poets, novelists and playwrights with quotes celebrating their Wellington connections. The last plaque on the Writers Walk is that of Elizabeth Knox, which is near where the Bluebridge ferry departs.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 71, May 2018

The Tora Coastal Walk — still going strong

One of the earliest of New Zealand's private farm walks — the Tora Coastal Walk — is still as popular as ever. Only about two hours drive from Wellington, it's a grand combination of sheep-dotted hills, ridge-tops with splendid views, gullies of native bush, a winding river valley and a black­-sand coast.

Accommodation is as varied as the scenery — first night in Whakapata Cottage on the Elworthy farm, hosts: Kiri and James Elworthy; second night in purpose-built Stony Bay Lodge on the coast, hosts: Amanda and Simon Bargh; and the third night in converted shearers' quarters, hosts: Jenny and Chris Bargh.

Luggage is transported for you and food is provided — lots of local produce, home-cooked and home-caught if you're lucky, as we were when we did the walk not long after it started in 1995.

There were five of us. Jane Elworthy (it was her brainchild) greeted us on our arrival so I'm delighted to see it's still in the family with her daughter-in-law Kiri now organising the walk. Jane gave us info sheets with background information and only one strict rule — leave gates as you find them!

I remember how fascinated we townies were to see aspects of back­country life, like a horseman and his dogs mustering cattle along a valley, and to explore the almost-ghost town of Tora, with abandoned school and desolate homestead.

I also recall how exhausting I found that first day (to a lesser extent, Day 3) — up and down endless hills, following white markers that could be a splash of paint on fenceposts or gates. We saw the wind turbines at Haunui — newish technology back then. Their German engineers inscribed each with their names — there can't be many windmills in New Zealand called Hermann.

Bush in the gullies gave relief from the heat — especially Tora Bush with its nikau palms, lancewood, kanuka, rangiora and five-flnger.

In between the hilly first and third days was the short flat coastal walk on Day 2. We watched the sea pounding the remains of the coal carrier Opua, wrecked nearly 100 years ago. Surfcasters planted their rods along the beach then lounged in chairs beside them.

Country hospitality and stunning scenery — what a great break from city life!

The website is a comprehensive website with full details of every aspect of the walk, which costs $50S per person.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 70, November 2017

Dorothy Spotswood — an inspiring lady

Dorothy, the sportswoman, in 1998

Dorothy, the sportswoman, in 1998

When Mark Dunajtsdlik was asked how his wonderful gift to the Wellington Hospital came about, he said it was during a conversation with his business and life partner, Dorothy Spotswood. These two generous people live in Oriental Bay, and Bay View decided to find out more about Dorothy Spotswood. When asked for an interview, Dorothy immediately said that Mark should be the one to be interviewed. But she eventually agreed to talk about her life, which she said was very mundane.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dorothy, her brother and sisters did not have wealthy parents, but they had a happy childhood and were taught to be self-sufficient. Dorothy was good at sport, and in her youth represented Wellington at basketball. There was no pampering in those days. When her team was to play Auckland, they all had to travel up in the overnight train, and play competition basketball the next morning.

In her 20s she started travelling. She and Mark have had many travel adventures together, but before she met him she went off to Europe with a few girl friends.
They bought a van and set off to explore Europe. She has cheerful memories of being caught in Berlin when the Wall went up. Their visas had run out, and there was no certainty that they were going to get out of Berlin to Poland in their van. They hung around the Checkpoint, and eventually the border control people got tired of these inconvenient girls, and let them through.

Dorothy has been Mark's business and life partner for nearly fifty years, and together they have built up Mark's business. Dorothy does all the accounting work - no easy task. It is tempting to think that Mark Dunajtschik is head of a large organisation. In fact his organisation consists of himself and Dorothy. They have a lot in common. Both both enjoy a simple life, they both love sport and they both like to help people who are in an unfortunate position, not of their own making.

The list of organisations they have helped is too long to list here. It includes the Life Flight Trust, the Graham Dingle Foundation, Hohepa Homes, Hutt Valley Netball, a house for disabled children in Kelson, and of course their massive gift of a new Wellington Children's Hospital.

Dorothy, painting their house — both are great do-it-yourselfers

Dorothy, painting their house — both are great do-it-yourselfers

As soon as you meet Dorothy you are aware of her zest for life. She joins Mark on his deer hunting expeditions, they go rabbit shooting together, and until recently they went on skiing holidays together. She is a great walker. Only a few years ago she decided to tackle the Rotorua marathon, though she had never done one before. She did it in six and a half hours, to even her own amazement since her only preparation for it was to buy herself a good pair of running shoes.

Dorothy and Mark have always enjoyed tennis, and when at the end of the 1970s they decided to buy a house together, their prime requirement was a tennis court. Every weekend they would go to a different suburb and walk round the streets, looking for a house with a tennis court. If they found one, they would knock on the door and ask if the people wanted to sell. The answer was invariably No! Then one day they walked round Oriental Bay, and here they spotted two rather dilapidated houses up a hill. They climbed the hill and investigated them, and realised that if they pulled the larger one down, which had been badly damaged by a slip, and renovated the smaller one, they could have their tennis court.

They have been happy residents of Oriental Bay since then and love it, not least because they can walk just about anywhere they want to go.

Dorothy Spotswood is an inspiring lady.

— Ann Mallinson, Bay View newsletter 70, November 2017

Coene’s Bar and Eatery

Pictures on the wall tell the history of the building

Pictures on the wall tell the history of the building

A happy recent addition to the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club building is Coene's Café and Bar on the first floor. The name of this establishment pays homage to the history of the venue, as can be seen in the wonderful photos on the walls which bring a special flavour to the Bar and Eatery.

Commander Edgar J Coene led American naval troops based in Wellington at this site during World War II. His job was to direct troops in the South Pacific. The neighbouring boat sheds are also named for him.

The tribute in the restaurant reads "Lt Commander Edgar J Coene, USNR, now stationed in a South Pacific Base, has been made a full Commander. He is the officer in charge of the Amphibious Boat Pool, US Advanced Naval Base. 
While stationed in Wellington, New Zealand, he had a wonderful success in the organization of the boat pools in that base and received the following citation in orders from Admiral Halsey: 'Having personal knowledge of the difficulties and obstacles involved in this undertaking, it is considered that special credit is due to the officer in charge, Lt Commander Edgar J Coene, for his industry, initiative, and creative ability.' Mr and Mrs Coene made their home in High Street.

Bar stools are said to have been adapted from metal US Navy chairs, so shorties like me have to dangle their legs. And the fact that this is a yachting cafe is emphasised by an orange line painted through the room. This marks where the starting line for races runs out into the harbour.

As part of the club's campaign to emphasise that yachting is not an elitist sport, this cafe offers a wide range of dishes at varying prices, including sharing-style plates. It replaces the high-end restaurant run here for 13 years by award-winning chef, Martin Bosley.

— Bay View newsletter 70, November 2017

The beginnings of the RPNYC

The Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club as it is today

The Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club as it is today

The Oriental Bay Residents' Association has often held our public meetings in the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club premises. So we thought our members would interested to hear some history of the yacht club — America's Cup year seemed just the right time do so. Here is the first section abbreviated from the yacht club's website.

In 1883 a group of Wellington sailors called a meeting in the Pier Hotel to discuss the formation of a yacht club. The result was the Port Nicholson Yacht Club. Subsequent meetings determined the Club's flag and rules.

The first general meeting was held at the Pier Hotel on 3 October 1883 when the Governor of the day Sir William Jervois, consented to take the office of Commodore. The membership had reached 80 and at the conclusion of the meeting the chairman suggested that the newly formed club occupy the shed which had been arranged at Pipitea Point as its clubroom. Sir William retained the office of Commodore until 1887, then W H Levin was elected to the position. In 1896, through the efforts of the Governor, the Earl of Glasgow, the Club obtained the Admiralty Warrant to fly the Blue Ensign.

The effect of the reclamation made the mooring sites more exposed so in 1902 a contract was let to build the boat harbour at Clyde Quay. The first yachts moved in in 1905 and the Clyde Quay boat harbour became the city's yachting centre.

There were between 30 and 40 yachts and sailing boats associated with the Club in its early years ... Most of them were moored in an area between Pipitea Point and the Railway Wharf (now Waterloo Quay). Others moored in what was known as the Te Aro Bight (corresponding to the Victoria street of today).

The early 1900s saw many new boats brought to Wellington, mostly from Auckland.

This seemed a natural place to pause in this account of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club. We will continue the RPNYC's history in a subsequent story.

— Bay View newsletter 70, November 2017

The personal touch of Oriental rugs

The people connected to handmade rugs fascinate Wellingtonian Anna Williams who repairs, mends and restores Oriental rugs. In a recent visit to her tiny city workshop, Anna showed us a rug made by a woman she'd met in Iran who makes rugs in her tent — "she had an enormous horizontal carpet loom in her dirt-floored home." Another weaving gift that she treasures was given to her by an Iranian nomad friend.

Sometimes she stays with Ali in Teheran who has a rug export business. He employs about 15 repairers (all men) who sit on a concrete floor in a large shed, surrounded by dishevelled piles of rugs.

Anna Williams demonstrates rug repairs to the visiting Friends of Te Papa group. Beside her are Friends committee members Ann Hodson (left) and Sheryl Shackleton

Anna Williams demonstrates rug repairs to the visiting Friends of Te Papa group. Beside her are Friends committee members Ann Hodson (left) and Sheryl Shackleton

Anna bas been breathing life into old rugs for years now, and never knows what might come through her door next — "You might get a rug that a family bas owned for years, or that dad or granddad brought back from the war," she said. The personal touch again.

She has always had a love of texture. At school, sewing was her favourite subject and at university, studying for her BA in Anthropology, she managed to find time for sewing. After discovering the joy of weaving, she gained her Certificate in Handloom Weaving in 1977. In 1992, a Wellington rug importer urgently needed a repairer as his shipment had arrived with damaged rugs. Anna slotted into the job perfectly.

She has visited Iran seven times now, she told us, living in local communities and studying with rug restorers. She buys yarns, wool, cottons and silks there but increasingly uses New Zealand wool. Even a damaged shoulder and arm have not deterred her. She just wedges herself to the edge of her workbench and carries on.

She showed us examples of some of the repair jobs she tackles. Often it's fringes that are badly frayed — some have been chewed off by the family dog! If edgings have been added separately, they often need to be reconnected to the body of the rug.

She sent us each off with a small piece of hand-weaving mounted on a greetings card — a reminder of a fascinating session and especially of the personal touch that is so important to her.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 70, November 2017

David Langdon Hogg - a tribute


David (generally known as Dave) took on the role of Honorary Treasurer of our Association in 2004 and still held that position at the time of his death on 8 September 2017.

Dave had no experience in accounting, but the combination of his degree in electrical engineering from Canterbury University and his IT experience with IBM and the Bank of New Zealand meant that it was no trouble to him to develop a simple but very effective system for recording financial transactions and membership records of OBRA.
At every committee meeting Dave would give a precise report on finances and membership. As a Treasurer should, he also ensured that funds were spent properly and wisely.

Dave however was much more than the "money man". His contributions to committee discussions on all aspects of the Association's activities were much valued. He was always among the first to volunteer for tasks such as the now defunct annual inorganic rubbish collection and the bi-annual distribution of the Bay View newsletter.
Dave's mobility was significantly impaired as a result of a serious lung infection four years ago. However, he showed great determination to ensure that his contribution to OBRA and his enjoyment of life were not diminished. Bay Views were delivered and other journeys made on the Mobility Scooter available from the Freyberg Pool building. Dave and his wife Marg continued to enjoy their love of travel to exotic places. Their last trip was in April when they organised a group, including several Oriental Bay residents, to undertake an enjoyable 10 day adventure in Borneo.

Dave always had a positive view on life, a great sense of humour and an infectious smile. He was a very active member of our community, playing bridge with a group of mainly local men and car-pooling with friends to get to the Royal Wellington Golf Club. He was a regular and popular member of the Club Active at the Freyberg Gym, and with his wife Marg, hosted many memorable functions for their wide circle of friends.

Our community has lost a very valued and popular member.

— Colin Blair, Bay View newsletter 70, November 2017

The Grand Old Ladies of Oriental Bay

Rona and Lizzie are their names. Rona is 125 years of age while Lizzie is a mere 108 years old. These two classic old yachts are both in Oriental Bay — Rona, owned by the Rona Preservation Trust, is tied up in the corner of Chaffers Marina, while Lizzie, owned by the Wellington Classic Yacht Trust, is moored in Clyde Quay Marina just out from the clubrooms of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.

" Rona "


The Rona, a classic kauri racing yacht, was built for wealthy merchant and benefactor Alexander Turnbull and launched in 1893. It is the oldest continuously registered ship in New Zealand, winning the 1893 Auckland Regatta, the Wellington Regatta in 1895 and continuing to appear on the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club honours board right up until the 1960s.

According to the introductory sign beside the yacht, Rona’s state-of-the -art design and construction represents a rare blend of local and overseas ideas and shows New Zealanders were keenly aware of the best technological developments between the depression of the 1890s and World War I. The longevity of the diagonal hull construction relies on the unique stability of kauri. Had the Rona been built of any other timber, it’s extremely unlikely she would have lasted so well. She also provides insight into the way yacht racing was experienced by sailors then — there are no winches, and her low freeboard would have guaranteed a wet ride.

Rona was in a sorry state when bought in 1981 by Nelson architect John Palmer, who recognised its pedigree and spent nine years reconstructing and restoring it before it was purchased by the Rona Preservation Trust in 2006. Chairman of the trust, Tom Love, says the old yacht now needs a good deal of work, especially to the deck, which is leaking. They hope to tackle this soon and are fund-raising now to that end. Restoration of these old yachts is a long and painstaking process, stresses Gavin Pascoe of Wellington Classic Yacht Trust. “The trust tries to go back as close as possible, using the original building methods and building materials. Rona was initially restored in that way — that’s how she is now. She was finished quite a time ago. She was looked after on her moorings but she hardly ever went sailing. Now she needs some maintenance work.”

“There’s a discussion in the trust as to whether to keep her looking original but to use modern methods. Initially you spend more money going back to the original,” he explained, “but when you mix traditional methods with modern methods, I don’t think it really works. For instance, she’s got a slight twist to her stern, you can see it if you look at her from behind. The Rona Preservation Trust wants to untwist her and put in a whole modern deck to stop it happening again. But the thing is, it took 50 years for it to happen in the first place and with a modern deck there’s little air circulation underneath and it can rot quickly.”

"Lizzie "


The Lizzie is owned by the Wellington Classic Yacht Trust and bobs at its mooring in Clyde Quay Marina amongstthe modern yachts which are so much higher from the water than she is. It was the plight of Lizzie that caused the formation in 2010 of the Trust, which is registered as a New Zealand charity. A collective back then raised money to pay salvage and return Lizzie to Wellington. After more than two years of volunteer work and donations of money and material, she was re-launched in March 2013.

The very process of restoration and getting back to original material has given valuable lessons on techniques and materials and the particular practices of different boatyards of the classic era. These skills can be shared by the trust with anyone wanting to learn traditional boatbuilding methods in joinery, metalwork, ropework and boat handling.

Lizzie was built at Balaena Bay by Ted Bailey and launched in 1909. Ted Bailey was from Auckland — a younger brother of Charles and Walter Bailey (Bailey Bros shipbuilders) — but had set up business in Wellington around the turn of the century. Lizzie was the champion vessel of her division running up to World War I. Bailey, who also built champion racing centreboarders, carried the principles of what makes a fast boat into building Lizzie.

She had been significantly altered over the years, though her original keel structure and planking are complete. Over 2½ years, the Wellington Classic Yacht Trust restored her to her original configuration and she is once again sailing and racing in Wellington.

Lizzie is the oldest surviving Wellington-built racing yacht,” says Gavin Pascoe. “She was very successful in her early years, an original and innovative design, not bound by class rules. She has been restored back to her original state and it is our intention is to keep it all original.” Other classic old yachts in the Clyde Quay marina, owned by the Trust are Atalanta, Mabel and Galatea. Atalanta was launched in 1894 in Auckland by Bailey Bros as a 40-foot centreboarder. She won the Wellington Interprovincial regatta in 1895 but was disqualified, which gave Rona the victory. She remained in Wellington and stayed highly competitive in racing for more than 70 years.

Mabel was launched in Auckland in 1895, also built by Bailey Bros. She sailed down the east coast to Wellington, then on to Nelson in 1917. From there, she was in Lyttelton for a time before returning to Wellington some time in the early 1960s. She is being restored back to her original configuration.

Galatea was launched in Auckland in 1910. Built by Le Huquet, she was one of many of his yachts which came to race and cruise in Wellington during the first 20 years of the century, due to being particularly well-suited to local conditions. These Le Huquet yachts were consistently top boats in Wellington during the 1920s and 1930s.

We’re lucky to have these marine treasures in our neighbourhood.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 69, May 2017

The “Wanganella” part 2

Daylight made Wanganella’s plight more obvious. She had driven herself on to Outer Rock, mangling her bow and creating a gash some 40 by 22 feet (13 × 7m) for water to slosh in and out of her hull. Buoyancy forward was a thing of the past. An abortive attempt to tow her off made it evident that only a combination of restored buoyancy and a high tide could hope to release her from the reef’s fangs. Fuel oil was pumped out of her, then the two forward holds were to be sealed and compressed air blown into them; but only if the weather remained calm could this work be completed before her whole hull was wrenched apart.

Entering dock

Entering dock

And it did remain calm! ‘Wanganella weather’ became legendary, over the entire eighteen-day period until Thursday evening (6 February) when, after an earlier attempt a week before, she moved, then came free on the end of a line from the tug Toia. She was towed stern-first and heavily down by the bow, to end up, her bow on the harbour bottom, at Aotea Quay. Here she languished until the floating dock, occupied by another ship, became available, and it would be a couple of weeks before she entered dock, without tugs (they had gone on strike for higher wages) and with Darroch joined by Wellington’s deputy harbourmaster David Todd, who prided himself on his ability to handle ships without tugs. It was then the turn of the dock workers to demand higher pay, and to declare the ship ‘black’; and only temporary patching of her bow was possible so that shecould be towed back to Aotea Quay wharf on 27 May.

A great bite

A great bite

During her time in dock it was determined that her bow, with a great bite out of it, was beyond repair, and a replacement bow would need to be prefabricated. This task was carried out by Harland and Woolf back in Belfast; the new structure extended over more than a third of Wanganella’s length, and its component parts were shipped out in Hororata, a large New Zealand Shipping Company cargo vessel that was herself a survivor: she was torpedoed as she approached the Azores on the homeward leg of her maiden voyage in 1942. Wanganella was returned to the dock in January 1948, and her precious replacement arrived in early March. It took until the end of October before the vessel could test the precision of the assembly process — one minor leak, sealed in a matter of hours as the dock was flooded, was found. Wanganella was towed back to Clyde Quay wharf, and the opportunity was taken to eliminate the remains of her wartime service; in particular, any remaining hospital green paint was covered up. After sea trials at the end of November, the ship left for Sydney on 9 December 1948, fully booked.

Back in service

Back in service

Meanwhile, because he and Captain Todd had easedthe stricken vessel into a dock without a tug, the unfortunate Captain Darroch had faced a Court of Inquiry. This had found him negligent and, although his certificate was only suspended for three months, his career was effectively over. His only subsequent command was in 1952, of a small coaster, the Awahou, which disappeared without trace on a voyage to Lord Howe Island.

Wanganella herself fared much better, making regular weekly sailings in tandem with the Union company’s Monowai. With a refit in 1952, she remained popular and although her 1930s pattern squat motor ship funnels looked somewhat ‘dated’ (the forward one was a dummy, and nothing came of a proposal during that refit to transfer it to sit above the ‘working’ one) she was still trim in her Huddart Parker livery of black hull with a thin white band just below the white upperworks, and buff funnels. But air travel was becoming increasingly popular through the latter 1950s, and when in 1961 Huddart Parker was sold off and its fleet dispersed, Wanganella was bought by McIlwraith McEachern of Melbourne. Her name was retained, but her funnels were repainted in the black-topped red of her new owners, and she resumed her trans-Tasman schedule, managed now by the Union company, which had withdrawn Monowai from service the previous year.

New owners. Note dummy fore funnel

New owners. Note dummy fore funnel

In mid-Tasman on a voyage from Sydney to Auckland, she showed her age in spectacular fashion. On 26 March 1962 a piston rod in her port engine snapped; the broken rod fell into the crankcase where, boosted by the rotating crank, it was spat out through the casing. At Auckland they cleared up the mess enough for her to return to Sydney on one engine, and here she spent April while proper repairs were made. The implications of this episode were enough for McIlwraith McEachern to decide to sell Wanganella just three days after the repairs were completed, and an engine room explosion and fire in June confirmed the wisdom of their decision.

After finishing her final voyage on 25 July, Wanganella was laid up in Sydney; on 15 August her new owners took her over, and she became the property of the Hang Fung Shipping and Trading Company of Hong Kong. She made one trip there to change funnel colours (to black with two silver bands) and port of registry, then returned to Auckland to undertake a Melbourne Cup cruise, which in turn led to other cruises round the Pacific and Australia, and then to a spell in November as a floating hotel at Fremantle during the 1962 Commonwealth Games. A few cruises in early 1963 followed, and there were grand schemes which came to nothing. Instead the ship was laid up in Sydney and offered for sale.

Then came the final, novel and quite unexpected phase in her career. The Manapouri power scheme planned for water from Lake Manapouri to enter a tunnel down to an underground assembly of turbines, from which it would discharge through a 10km tunnel into Doubtful Sound. Utah Construction and Mining, which bought the ship, was one of the firms in the consortium to undertake the tailrace tunnelling, and Deep Cove, where there was nothing apart from a trampers’ hut, and certainly nothing to provide accommodation or services, would become Wanganella’s retirement home. She crossed the Tasman Sea one final time, still dressed in Hung Fung livery and with a largely Chinese crew, called at Auckland, then entered Doubtful Sound on 29 August 1963. She anchored in Hall Arm, just around the corner from Deep Cove, from where workers using her boats could be ferried across to construct anchor points for the heavy steel cables that would form the ship’s final moorings.

Home to 500-odd workmen

Home to 500-odd workmen

Once the anchor points were ready, she made her final voyage under her own power, was secured with her own anchors and the cables that now awaited her, and became home to 500-odd workmen who combined the cutting of a road over Wilmot Pass to link the sound with civilisation, and the tunnelling itself. They became a close-knit community, hardworking and hard drinking; and during their period as guests aboard, the ship developed assorted excrescences as additional covered space was needed. Road access was established in 1965 and the tunnel breakthrough was three years later. The work force dispersed by 1970; Utah sold the ship back to the Government in 1969, who on-sold her to the Australia Pacific Shipping Company of Hong Kong. Fortunately an ocean-going Dutch tug, the Barents Sea, was in the vicinity, and in April 1970 took Wanganella in tow, to transport her to Hong Kong where her new owners had ideas of restoring her. But on arrival, the engines were found to require total replacement. She was therefore sold yet again, to Taiwanese shipbreakers, where she arrived in June 1970, almost 41 years after her launch.

Under tow

Under tow

At the breakers. Note ship cove buildings

At the breakers. Note ship cove buildings

I came to enjoy Wanganella as one of Auckland’s regular visitors when, as a boy, I happened to visit the North Shore and found her berthed at Princes Wharf. I even attempted to paint her once, but was defeated when her black hull came out looking like a lump of coal. My wife’s knowledge was more extensive, since she was a Wellington girl, while I did no more than catch a glimpse of the ship in the floating dock when I was on my way to or from Dunedin. Apart from casual references in various of my shipping books, in this story I have relied on a gem of a book, ‘A Tasman Trio’, which documents the life stories of three celebrated trans-Tasman passenger ships: Wanganella, Awatea and Monowai. Without it, I could not have assembled such a precise account.

— Wyn Beasley, Bay View newsletter 69, May 2017

The Easy Option Up to Your Home


Wellington must be New Zealand’s ‘cablecar city’ with the variety of cableways or cablecars of various shapes and sizes that rise up our hills. Oriental Bay and its neighbourhood is very much a part of this — in Oriental Bay itself and in Roseneath and along Evans Bay.

With our hilly sections, it’s not difficult to see the reason for cableways. They can replace the zig-zag path by which many of us reach our homes or they can be installed instead of the multiple steps which are equally familiar to us. Very often, they mean that disabled people or older citizens can stay in the homes they love.

Most of the cableways or cablecars are two-person, either an open platform with waist-high walls around it or an enclosed ‘sentrybox’ style. Others are square-shaped and may be extra solid to support a gondola. The systems for disabled use can be equipped with door ramps and larger floor areas to facilitate easy wheelchair access. To further aid independent use of the cableway, automatic landing gates can be installed.


Some have street frontages, others start from a front path or driveway a little distance from the road. A popular option is to rise out the back or side of a garage. The average length of the cableways is about 30 metres, with one of the longest in our neighbourhood being the one that rises 65 metres to a house in Palliser Road. Some are built on the boundary of two sections and used by both homes, while a very few serve several households with stops and platforms for each.

Private cablecars in Wellington started off as builders’ hoists when the steep hills of the city were first being developed. Timber and builders’ equipment would be transported to the building site. Then they were adapted or installed for the convenience of the householders themselves, especially for disabled people. Next step was their adaptation for general household access — first simply a platform, then maybe a semi-enclosed unit on a monorail or a more elaborate structure on dual rails.

The monorail involves less construction work than the dual rail, with the rail often being only 200 mm wide. The cablecar either sits on the single rail or is cantilevered off one side. They are usually run by an electric industrial motor fitted onto a gearbox with an electro-magnetic brake. Dual rails can be manufactured at various widths. The dual rail option has more visual impact on the environment but are especially suitable when the terrain demands a change in direction or for shared use.

Building consent is required for a new ‘line’. They must be checked and their warrants of fitness renewed regularly. There are believed to be about 300 private ones in Wellington.

Of course, the Grand Old Lady of cablecars is the Kelburn Cablecar — the funicular railway that joins Lambton Quay and Kelburn. It rises 120 metres over a length of 612 metres. It is a 1000 mm gauge single track with pine sleepers. It opened to the public on 22 February 1902 and has been going strong ever since, with a few facelifts along the way.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 69, May 2017