Timaru's Artificial Harbour

 The early breakwater, Timaru Harbour. W. Ferrier, photographer.
Assists Nature!

The Breakwater Celebration

The Timaru roadstead was known as a ship's cemetery and if the area was going to flourish the town needed a safe harbour so the citizens of South Canterbury demanded a harbour to safely load and unload vessels.  J.M. Balfour, the Marine engineer for Otago, did the initial survey in 1865 and observed the movement of shingle to the north.  The Timaru Harbour Board formed January 1877 called for plans for a harbour.  J.M. Goodall, engineer,  for the Harbour Board proposed a solid mole.  It was decided to build a solid breakwater extending 900' near the foot of Strathallan St. and work commenced in 1878 on the first 300'.  John Blackett, marine engineer, reported on the progress in 1880.  Shipwrecks with loss of life distressed the community in 1882.  By 1884 the harbour works was a success.  In 1886 F.M. Marchant was appointed the engineer.  By 1895 the harbour was fifty acres in extent and the entire harbour works costing nearly �300,000. On the S.E. side was a concrete breakwater 30 feet wide at the top, and having a total length of 2,428 feet and was constructed between 1887 and 1890.  On the N.W. the harbour is enclosed by a rubble wall formed of large fragments of volcanic rock.  In 1898 the shipping channel started to fill up with shingle. J.P. Maxwell was now engineer to the Harbour Board suggested building the eastern breakwater 3000' long.  Bluestone was quarried and transported three miles by tramway to the waterfront from a quarry area later known as Centennial Park. This eastern mole was a success and shingle still accumulates to the south adding reclaimed land.  The high water mark opposite George Street was 1,450 feet seaward by 1955. The third wharf was constructed in 1908. The opening day of the Timaru No 3 Wharf was 30th December 1910. Dredges were used to keep the channel clear of sand and shingle.  The breakwaters over the years have been realigned to make the inner harbour larger, raised, extended, strengthen and repaired. 

       Timaru's fishing fleet 1920

Timaru Herald, 22 August 1905, Page 3
Twenty-six years ago there were no vessels in Timaru Harbour, because there was there was no harbour. But in November, 1879, the first contact for the construction for the breakwater was completed; and on November 4th, Timaru people had their eyes gladdened, by the sight of a sixty-ton ketch moored at the stump of a breakwater, and busily discharging cargo. The ketch was the Prince Rupert; her owners were Messrs Allan and Stumbles, the contractors for the first breakwater contract; and her skipper was Captain Hanning. The "Herald" of the next and of a later day contained a glowing reports of the proceedings. "The keteh Prince Rupert was, at the request of her owners, brought alongside the breakwater, where she was safely and snugly moored before 7 a.m." She discharged about 45,000 feet of timber, including a number of heavy piles, and "stiffened" with a few tons of ballast, and hauled off in fast time. "The smoothness and expedition with which the work of discharging her cargo was done," says the chronicler, evoked-expressions of hearty satisfaction from Captain Hanning, who evidently felt no little pride in being the first master of a vessel brought alongside the breakwater." Two days later the completion of the first contract was celebrated with a public ceremony, the eating of a dinner, and the firing of rockets.

Captain Hanning retains his pride in being the first user of the berthage. He is now in command of the s.s. Invercargill, and he gave utterance yesterday to a few of his recollections of that red letter day. "We lay right up against the concrete breakwater," he said; there was no wharf then. We had to use brooms to keep the ketch from bumping, and she jumped about in fine style, for there was next to no shelter. Luckily it was a nice fine day, something like to-day. The ketch lay just about where the watchman's whare is now, anther bows came somewhere near the boat steps. There was any amount of water -a lot more then than there is now at at that place." Captain Hanning said that he afterwards frequently visited the port in various sailing vessels, and taking always a great interest in the place, watched its progress with pleasure. The construction of the extension had made a great difference to vessels entering the port. Previously people came down to watch a vessel go through the moles, rolling mightily, and in slender control when the skipper most desired to have a firm grip of his charge. Now, no one goes down for such a purpose; the show is too tame," and a vessel finds it like coming into a mill-pond.

Evening Post, 29 August 1927, Page 11
The eastern mole of Timaru Harbour was built solely of huge junks of blue stone, tipped from a railway staging into the sea, extending out over half a mile in water up to thirty and forty feet deep. Many of these blocks came down from the quarry, five miles back, in a truck to themselves; that is, after they had been broken down sufficiently to go on a truck.


1950s photo. See the lighthouse?

TU S. Rata
TU103 Quest
TU95 Kaio
TU3 ??

Dredge 350 

The first dredge was the 'Taniwha', an eighty ton hopper barge and the last dredge to be purchased was the No. 350 in 1907.  Dredges unlike other crafts were often not named.  A seagoing hopper dredge has a hull like an ocean vessel and its own propulsion machinery, also equipped with special apparatus and machinery for dredging material hydraulically, discharging material into built-in hoppers. The bottom material is raised by dredge pumps through dragarms which are raised and lowered by tackle and winches. As pumping continues the solid material settles in the hoppers while the water passes overboard through troughs. When filled the dragarms are raised and the dredge proceeds to the disposal site.

Dredge 350 was a seagoing hopper bucket ship of 1,000 tons which had been built at Paisley Scotland for �25,000 and brought up to a total figure of �28,514 by extras and spares.  She was commissioned in 1907 and of a total of 14 million tons of spoil dredged from the basin and the channel more than 11 million tons had been lifted by Dredge 350. (From A Short History of the Port of Timaru, pub 1955).

From 1923 onwards, discussions were held by the Timaru Harbour Board regarding the cost effectiveness of Dredge 350. Timaru Herald Feb. 25 1919, page 4

Timaru Herald, 2 August 1888, Page 2
The Taniwha was busy dredging again yesterday, being swung to moorings abreast of the steamers' berth. Owing to the bad weather last week she did little or nothing, and now that a slant of fine weather is promised, she is to be kept hard at it.

Dredge 350 - should it be sold - An Expensive Toy
The Marine Department said that it had an enquiry from Tasmania for a Dredge and asked if the Board had one to sell. The Chairman Mr D. C. Turnbull said the letter raised a big question. Mr Isaac characterised the Dredge as an "expensive toy". It was costing �12,000 a year, whereas by hiring the Lyttelton dredge they could do all the dredging necessary at the port for �6,000 a year.  He said that there was no further dredging of virgin ground required and the proposition of selling was good business and should be thoroughly gone into. The Engineer Mr Clarke was called in and gave his opinion that it might be good business to sell the Dredge if they could get a good price for it. The Lyttelton Dredge could do routine work at present but there might be important work in the future which it could not do. Mr H. B. Johnston said that the improved climate might give rise to further dredging. Mr Isaac said that would not be for seven years or so and by that time they might have saved as much as would buy a new dredge. Mr T Garrick said the Dredge had been advertised for sale all over the country and then the Board refused to sell.........

Press, 13 July 1916, Page 8
Timaru, July 12. H. Peterson, an elderly man had his right thigh shockingly smashed this morning. He was attending a cable, when the dredge swung, jamming Peterson between the cable and the drum. His leg was amputated close to the trunk, and he died during the afternoon. He was a nephew of Captain Tait, harbourmaster, and leaves a widow and six children.

Press, 18 September 1916, Page 5
Timaru, September 17. On Saturday night F. Duncan, watchman on the dredge, was ran down by a shunting engine on the wharf and cut to pieces. It is not known exactly how the tragedy happened. He was not on duty that night. He was about 65 years of age, and for thirty years was the harbourmaster's coxswain. He was a widower, and leaves a grown-up family.

 

Press, 24 November 1906, Page 8
The Timaru Harbour Board's new dredge is expected to arrive at Timaru from Port Chalmers to-night. Regarding the dredge Timaru, for which, the Board has now no further use, the following resolution was passed at a meeting of the Board hold yesterday:� "That the dredge Timaru be offered for sate by tender, tenders to be in by the next meeting of the Board, and all likely buyers to be communicated with. If sold, delivery to be given on December 31st, in dock at Port Chalmers."

Each year Dredge 350 visited Port Chalmers for her annual refit:
Timaru Herald Monday Dec. 4 1933
DREDGE RETURNS - COMPLETE OVERHAUL MADE: To recommence this week.
"After a month spent at Port Chalmers in undergoing her annual overhaul and refit, Dredge 350 returned to Timaru yesterday. She left the port at 7.20am on Saturday night and after a fine weather trip up the coast arrived here at 6.30am yesterday morning and was tied up at her old berth on the northern side of No. 3 wharf. With her new paint glistening in the sun and her gear all spic and span, the Dredge was an object of interest to visitors to the wharf yesterday afternoon.  During the 6 weeks the Dredge was laid up in Timaru, extensive small repairs were carried out and the vessel was given a good cleaning but there were several operations required which could not be performed here and she was taken to Port Chalmers where the heavy work was done.  Extensive renewals were made in the gear of the top tumbler and gantry.  The top tumbler was the original one which was fitted when the Dredge was built in 1907 and as was the case with some of the other parts. A great deal of the heavier gear had to be removed altogether to provide access to the parts needing attention and this made the task a fairly heavy one. An indication of the work required is to be had from the fact that the tumbler itself weighs 20 tons. The survey just completed was what was known as the 24 year survey and was a particularly detailed one which had to be made this year to conform with the new regulations.  The Inspector of Machinery expressed approval of the condition of the vessel.  A few minor adjustments remain to be made and it is expected that the Dredge will be recommissioned in about 4 days' time when she will begin her dredging programme". On the same trip south Dredge 350 carried out a programme of dredging for the Oamaru Harbour Board. Amounts received for hire over several years included:
1927 �2492.10.0
1928 �5829.  0.0
1929 �7011.  0.0
1931 �3138.  0.0
1932 �5964.  0.0
1935 �9338.  0.0

My Great Uncle Hal, H.C.B., an engineer, with his mate's certificate, worked on Dredge 350 from c.1927 to 1941 as Captain.  The only log books which have not been destroyed (Port Company) are for the years 1923-4, 1927 and 1928. From the log books it seems that the men started work at 9am and finished at 5pm with a half hour for lunch and they worked on Saturdays until noon. A watch was kept on the Dredge over the weekend and the men took it in turns to watch on a Sunday as well as public holidays. The log books are very comprehensive as regards the condition of the weather, coal used and what they did every day, to the minute.

In 1937 the question of a new dredge was again debated and the engineer had to report on the condition of it.  He recommended that the dredge be overhauled and painted. By 1955 the Harbour Board again faced the problem of replacement after the dredge had been in continuous use for nearly 50 years and it was finally decommissioned in the mid-1960s.

If my uncle worked on the Dredge 350 for the Timaru Harbour Board as an engineer, I think he would have had a pretty comfortable position. There would have only been two or three people working in the engine room. He would have started at 7.30 am and finished at 4.30 pm. I think that there was only about 10 men in the full crew. The Dredge also did charter work for the Oamaru Harbour Board. Living in Dee Street he probably walked to work. 15 minutes would have been ample time. The dredge was always tied up to No. 3 wharf. They used to go out and dump the dredgings near the Seadown beach.

The Boat Harbour, Timaru

Today - 2002

Today the port of Timaru is a central multipurpose bulk handling facility with the goal of being the primary export port for the South Island.  September 2002 saw the The Port of Timaru company revise its name to PrimePort Timaru with a new logo design depicting shipping containers grouped around a central axis. The port company plans to buy two heavy lift forklifts, two new mobile cranes (a new Leibherr model), strengthen the wharves, redevelop the container handling facility on the North Mole quadrupling capacity, carry out more sealing, install more lighting and power points, use two dredges to deepen channels by from the current 10.5 metres to 11 metres, and have deeper berth pocket all within the year 2002. 

On the wharf looking back into town. - November 2nd 2002. Courtesy of Han Freeke.

The actual inner harbour area provides an extensive 1325m of berthing space, though 165m of this is allocated to Fisheries and the Repair Wharf accommodates a further 200m. There is a very large fishing/fish processing industry located at the Port, and there are frequently a number of fishing vessels in the harbour.

Caroline Bay.  - November 2nd 2002. Courtesy of Han Freeke.

Sand from the pulverised shingle accumulating at the harbour's entrance was carried by currents to build up the fine sandy beach of Caroline Bay which now has a twelve hectare landscaped park behind it and shingle accumulating south of the breakwater has created reclaimed land, at the foot of George St., well over 100 acres, used by various industries. 

Timaru Herald, 12 September 1883, Page 2
A Trip for Nothing. By the Express train from Christchurch yesterday forenoon there arrived a gentleman well known in Insurance circles in the City of the Plains. The object of his visit was, we are assured, to spy out the land, or rather the water at Timaru, with a view of reporting on his return the safely or otherwise of the ship Waimate while loading inside the Breakwater. Our readers my judge of the surprise of the gentleman in question at finding that the Waimate had gone, actually gone after lying only four days and a half in Timaru, and he was chaffed most unmercifully for not coming sooner, and sagely advised that the next time he wanted to see a ship loading inside the Breakwater, he had better come in her, so as to be in time to see her sail. In all fairness to our visitor we must say he took the banter in the spirit it was given, and expressed himself as being highly surprised as well as pleased at the despatch afforded the Waimate here.

Timaru Herald, 11 September 1883, Page 2
The Timaru Landing Service put 4461 sacks of grain besides a quantity of wool and sundries, the total being equal to fully 500 tons, on board the ship Waimate yesterday, inside the Breakwater. This makes about 9160 sacks of grain (total 8615 sacks of oats and 1138 sacks of wheat), besides sundries, shipped to her in the three working days she has been in Timaru, a feat which the Service has every reason to be proud of. Had not rain delayed work for four hours yesterday morning, she would have been a full ship last night. Now requires about 800 sacks to fill her up, which she will take in at the anchorage this morning. She was loaded down with safety to 18ft inside the Breakwater yesterday. The stevedoring was done by Mr F. Scoringe. In the afternoon a donkey engine was sent off to her on the 6th to assist in the work of loading. The Waimate was moored at the out buoys of the Breakwater. Captain mosey expressed his great satisfaction. Sailed Sept. 11, Waimate, ship, 1123 tons, for London, direct.


Recalling an earlier Timaru port
The Timaru Herald | Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Timaru's Trevor Griffiths continues his occasional series about the Timaru he grew up in. Here, he turns his memories and pen to the Port of Timaru. On the right-hand side of the picture was No. 1 wharf with its extension and to the left of it and left again were No. 2 and No. 3 wharves respectively and to the left again was the Marine Parade. There were times when the port had nine or 10 ships moored with another waiting to enter the harbour. Many shipping lines came to our port - The New Zealand Shipping Company, Shaw, Savill and Albion, The Bibby Line and the Blue Star Line. The Union Steamship Company plied our coasts with a number of ships. Also the Holmglen and the Holmdale who I believe serviced the Chatham Islands. Another small visitor was the River City trading mostly between Wanganui and Timaru. Now of course with the advent of containers, visiting ships work in a completely different manner. The old practice was overseas ships took on a pilot quite a way out and would be guided into a safe and predestined mooring while the local shipping mostly came into the harbour under their own steam.

The wharfside workers would usually work from 8am to 5pm and if a wool or meat ship required, until 9pm. The workers would assemble outside the Wharf Services building about 7.30am and each gang for each ship was carefully chosen, in my time, by two men who knew the workforce very well. They were Snowy Taylor and Doug Wallace. There was union and non union labour known as seagulls. The above-mentioned men knew the requirements of each ship and chose their gangs with great care. I had left my employment towards the end of 1959 where my weekly pay was 6 a week and if you were lucky enough to be chosen for a freezer ship loading mutton and lamb for the United Kingdom and had a full five days' work from eight in the morning until nine at night you could take home 28 or $56. A princely sum indeed. My three years working as a "seagull" were a real learning curve. I am quite sure that the public in general had a totally incorrect opinion of the "wharfies" as they were affectionately known. Their work most times was quite difficult and strenuous. Sometimes you could pass by and think they were lazy while sitting quietly in groups but I can assure you that this was not their fault. When a ship was being loaded the cargo was prearranged for different ports on the other side of the world and it had to be loaded in a specific order. Sometimes a hold might be half full and the following cargo was for a different overseas destination. This specific cargo could have been loaded in freezer wagons from the Pareora Freezing Works the day before it was required and by accident it had been linked up with a goods train heading for Christchurch. The work force of course could not move a muscle until that particular wagon was brought back to carry on with the predetermined loading plan. The "wharfies" as such were a great bunch to work with and their sense of humour saw nearly every member of the permanent group with a nick name. There was "muleskinner", "elephant a***" and "mudguard" � because he was flash on top and dirty underneath. Men from every walk of life could be found there and during those frequent enforced spells it was amazing what subjects were brought forward. One such time when waiting for cargo an argument developed as to which directions the various wharves lay in. We were working on a New Zealand Shipping Company ship moored to the No. 1 wharf extension and the debate got so intense I was elected or rather pushed to go the bridge and get an official reading. The second officer was on the bridge and he wrote the extension wharf lay five degrees east of north. This of course meant that Nos 1, 2 and 3 wharves were north east of Timaru. Most of the men would have bet they lay due east.

The port of Timaru for many years was home to a thriving fishing industry. There must have been about 10 to 12 fishing launches all individually owned in the local fleet. Generally there were two men on a boat and they would depart from their moorings along the marine parade about 4am or 5am depending on the weather and mostly head south-east from Timaru to the bountiful fishing grounds near Oamaru. The day would be spent sending those big nets overboard with two otter boards to keep the mouth of the net open. If they were fortunate they would return with a good catch gutted and cased on the way back to port. The cases were then hand trolleyed to the freezer unit operated by P Feron & Son to be sent to various markets later. As a young lad I was present many times when the boats came in and if you were lucky there would be a bucket of fish placed on the wharf for the bystanders to take home as they wished. If you look carefully at the photo of the harbour you can see the fisherman's wharf tucked in between No. 3 wharf and the start of the marine parade and many times from that vantage point you could see the boats as they turned around the eastern extension. On a rare occasion a boat would return with the cod end of the net still in the water and the vessel with a lean on. They had been fortunate enough to catch a very heavy load and did not have the lifting gear on board strong enough to lift it out of the water. I happened to be on one of the launches one day and after they had unloaded their catch, returned to the moorings along the parade when one of the co-owners leaned over to take the mooring rope from the marker buoy, and, still having his thigh boots, on he somersaulted over the side into about 15 feet of water. He grabbed for a steel hawser which had an eyelet in it but also an ugly frayed end of spliced steel threads. He surfaced quite quickly and we pulled him back on board. His hand had been ripped badly and was bleeding profusely. The first thing he did was take his wallet out of his hip pocket to see if his paper money was still okay.

The marine parade in its early form was a narrow passageway. A short way along on the northern side can be seen. Hansen's Store, which sold ice cream and confections, and on the outer-most side a room that contained old fashioned pinball machines where you inserted a penny or threepence and if you were lucky enough you won a piece of chocolate or a packet of chewing gum. It was uncanny being in the building when the tide was in and hearing the waves splashing on the rocks underneath. Further along were the primitive bathing sheds of corrugated iron, a wooden floor and no roof, and almost opposite was a jetty used by the fishermen and the Harbour Board. The whole of the marine parade was an excellent place for amateur fishermen. The extension of No. 1 wharf we knew as the rubble wall and when it had improvements and rail lines added to it, was known to the wharfies as Siberia for obvious reasons. I recall vividly a time when quite young I was sitting in the sun with my old bamboo rod and line in the water about half-way along the wall at a spot known as the pothole when suddenly my line and rod were almost taken from me and on finally winding it in there was a large barracuda, a mean looking specimen if ever I saw one. Another time at the end of the wall I somehow managed to catch six medium to large crayfish. I was about to learn a severe lesson as a 10-year-old. I put them in my sugar bag and took them to a fish shop in the main street. I had visions of a small block of ice cream and a bag of sweets. When the proprietor said he would give me sixpence for them I thought he meant sixpence each. He placed the coin in my hand and hurried me out the door.

The other photograph was taken of Timaru Main School standard three in 1938 on a visit to the Union Company coastal freighter Waimairino. This standard three class of 1938 very much enjoyed the visit to the Waimairino and our teacher Hector Brown with his wife organised two separate train journeys to Hokitika and Greymouth during the school holidays. We had a marvellous time in both locations and were able to visit many interesting places like the Kaneiri gold dredge, the Rewanui State Coal Mine and the Punakaiki rocks and blowholes. I do not believe that the people of South Canterbury in general realise what a wonderful facility we have on our doorstep. There are people I have met in the United States, England and Europe who have never seen the sea. To be able to go down to the beach or the harbour is a privilege.

To walk along Caroline Bay with your shoes off in the water is a year-round pleasure. To park your car along the Marine Parade and watch the activities of the various seabirds is a treat indeed. To walk the wharf areas is a fascinating experience. Sometimes you may watch a shag skimming across the surface of the harbour and you wonder how it can be so close to the water that if a wing tip touched the water it must crash. Years ago the Timaru Rowing Club and the Sea Scouts were active within the harbour area. Yachts and row boats were popular too. More than once passing the Rowing Club shed I was called upon to be a coxswain for a boat travelling out as far as the eastern extension and back. An exhilarating experience. And best of all the smell of the fresh sea air is a tonic for everyone. In the '30s, '40s and '50s it was comforting to hear the sounds of the old bucket dredge No. 350 (you can see it beyond the eastern extension in the photo) keeping the harbour at a reasonable depth for the visiting ships. Those magical sounds which drifted across the city on the prevailing north-easterly winds a constant reminder all is well in our beautiful district.

P.W. Hutton & Co series


Wharfie from fifties rated job highly
The Timaru Herald | Saturday, 21 June 2008
Natasha Martin/ Timaru Herald
PORT RECOLLECTIONS: Keith Cullen started working at the port in 1954 as a seagull.
Being a watersider was a good job back in 1954 when Keith Cullen started at the Timaru port, but it was no lark. People believed the wharfie had it easy, but the work was often hard and dangerous. "People would joke and call you a witness -- you're just sitting on a case." The work could be heavy, the conditions unpleasant and there was danger from logs, trains and falling loads. In 35 years Mr Cullen couldn't remember a fatality, but plenty of men lost limbs. Among his workmates there was the odd bookie or hard case, but he rated them highly. As a representative rugby player his gang would pick up his work to let him get to practice. "They were the best bunch of blokes you could ever work with." The job was well paid, with variety in what you did and no ships meant a break from work on basic pay. Mr Cullen started as a seagull, a casual labourer who waited each day and hoped to be picked from the flock.After six months he was allowed to join the watersiders union. At this time there were around 280 watersiders and up to 200 seagulls on the wharf. There were often several export ships in port as well as coastal traders. Everything was shifted by hand and 120 men could be in a hold. A working day often ran from 8am to 5pm and then from 6pm to 9pm. There could be days of being in a hold stacking sacks or carcasses. "You'd do that all day no sweat... it was carry, carry, carry all the time. "After a couple of days you'd finish that coaster and be down in a freezer or you go back on a winch. I tell you it was a good job." Wearing an oxygen suit in a hot, dusty hold to load bulk peas or lucerne pellets was a tough job as was working in minus 40C unloading Russian trawlers. Mr Cullen said the Timaru union acted responsibly; he could not remember any outrageous demands or strikes. "But we might have threatened it a few times." Conditions in Timaru were negotiated directly with the port company. Rain didn't automatically mean work stopped and smoko was on a rolling basis as four of the crew of 12 took a break. In terms of pay a wharfie was probably on par with a tradesman. Mr Cullen started on a retainer of 6 a week and once he had worked 40 hours the overtime went on top. In 1958 he earned 1040 which was considered very good money. And two years later he and his wife Margaret could put a deposit on a house in Coonoor Road which cost them 3444. He said the pay was good, but not excessive. If there were no ships it was common for wharfies to look for other work. Like most of his workmates he biked home for lunch and tea and returned if there was a night shift. In the 70s lucerne pellets, logging and meat meant plenty of overtime and good pay, but by the mid 80s greater mechanisation and the arrival of containers marked the end of an era. And in 1989, like many wharfies at this time, Mr Cullen accepted voluntary redundancy.

Meat Loader at the Timaru Wharf. 1950s - 1960s
"Gladstone Star", Blue Star Line, at Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 30 March 1882, Page 2
There is at present in harbor a little craft of considerable interest to Timaruvians, we refer to the ketch Lucy James. This little vessel of 28 tons, was an early, if not the earliest trader to this port, having been brought over from Melbourne 25 years ago by a gentleman who is yet resident among us. She is said to be almost as sound as ever, being built of hardwood, and if she were capable of emotion, she would undoubtedly express unbounded surprise at the city which has arisen over the ashes of the fires of the last generation of whalers.


Port of Timaru 1998-1999    Bibliography

Hassall, Charles E.  A Short History of the Port of Timaru 1852-1955. Timaru Harbour Board, 1955 212pp. Plates b/w photos., maps. D/J. History of people, boats, events in the history of South Canterbury.

The Port of Timaru A Bird's Eye View of South Canterbury's Busy Harbour

Timaru Harbour Board. Port of Timaru - New Zealand  Timaru 1985 1st Ed. 12pp with 12 colour photos. Inside front cover: Aerial photograph. Pictorial soft cover. 27.5 x 21cm

Timaru Harbour Board, 1924 - Tide table for year and other information. Published Timaru 1923. 16pp, plus 4 b/w plates (2 of them folded) and 1 folded plan with soundings. Soft cover, illustrated front. 

Timaru Harbour Board, 1930 - Tide table for year and other information. Published Timaru. 1929. 16pp, plus 1 large folded plate (Timaru Harbour - 22nd Feb. 1928) and 1 folded plan with soundings. Soft cover, illustrated front. 21.8 x 14.2. 

BOOK REPRINT AFTER 50 YEARS.
20 April 2001  Timaru Herald
Almost half a century after a book dedicated to the Port of Timaru was first printed, a reprint is under way. Christchurch publisher Robin Mitchell of Cadsonbury Publications is preparing to reprint The Port of Timaru 1852-1955, compiled by Charles E Hassall, and originally published by the Timaru Harbour Board in 1955. The company specialises in small print runs (50 to 80 books) of historical books. Many of the books will end up in public libraries around the country, Mr Mitchell said. The suggestion to reprint the book came from the South Canterbury Historical Society as members were keen to obtain copies. Those interested in marine history were also the likely purchasers of the book. In spite of the probable interest he doesn't expect the reprint will instantly run out. Usually such books sell a handful a year, and at 76 years of age he isn't planning a second reprint. The reprint, expected to be available in about six months, will differ from the original in that it will include a biography of the author. What surprised Mr Mitchell was the lack of information about Mr Hassall. A visit to the South Canterbury Museum and discussions with members of the local historical society proved fruitless. A death notice and obituary in The Timaru Herald proved more useful, providing the information that he had been president of the South Canterbury Historical Society when it had moved into the present museum. Cadsonbury Publications has also republished a number of other books with a South Canterbury flavour, including Johannes Andersen's Jubilee History of South Canterbury and books by Herries Beattie on Maori place names in Canterbury, and Beattie's Mackenzie of the Mackenzie Country.

Timaru Harbour Jan. 26th 1908.  Photo on the wall in the port office.

References 

NZ Historic Places May 1994 #47 page 8. Building a Port

Gillespie, Oliver A. South Canterbury A Record of Settlement; The South Canterbury Centennial History Committee 1958. Chapter 8. Landing Place and Harbour. 

Contemplated Harbour Works at Milford
Otago Witness March 29 1879 page 12.

416 ships called in to Timaru for the 2002-2003 financial year

Harbour Masters

1858 Belfield Woollcombe - appointed 1858 beach master. Lieutenant in the Royal Navy
1865 Captain William Cockerill Beswick  - appointed 1865, an old ship master, came to NZ on the "John Taylor" in 1853
1866 Alexander Mills - 1866-1882. Lost his life.
1883 Captain Charles A. Bascand

Photos

1930
Lighthouse
Google images Port of Timaru
2007 KARETAI at Timaru

Our Earliest Aerial Photograph
22 July 2006 Timaru Herald
While most of the photographs featured in the Bird's Eye View exhibition at the South Canterbury Museum are from the 1940s and 50s, there is one smaller image on display that is dated as being taken in 1925. In fact, it may have been taken at an earlier date than this. The image shows the downtown part of Timaru, including the railway station. Clearly visible are two steam trains, along with a number of buildings in the vicinity that are no longer standing, as well as a few old landmarks still familiar to us today. The photograph was taken by Havelock Williams, an enthusiastic photographer who had been based in Timaru for some years. His journals, recently edited and published by his daughter Diana Rhodes of Auckland, record his delight with the arrival of three ex-Air Force DH9 biplane aeroplanes at the South Canterbury Aerial Transport Company premises at Washdyke in 1921. Havelock was friends with Maurice Buckley, a pilot who flew the photographer over Timaru. Dina Rhodes has located other images taken at the same time, which indicate that these flights occurred in 1921 rather than 1925. An image in her book, sourced from Canterbury Museum, reveals that two planes must have flown together, as one of the aircraft is shown above Timaru with a photographer at work in the cockpit.
     "A Bird's Eye View", included 12, 1m x 1.5m images of Timaru commissioned by the council in the 1940s and 1950s
Another photo shows a train shunting rocks down Quarry Road on its way to the breakwater, which was a rare sight by the 1950s. Also featured are more recent aerial images by Timaru Herald photographer John Bisset. The cameras used to take the photographs were specially designed for surveillance during the war and Mr Bisset said the scope of the images could not be replicated today.

Papers Past:
Progress, Volume II, Issue 9, 1 July 1907, Page 334 - 336

TIMARU : The Breakwater City. & A Wonderful Success. & Photographs for the illustrations of this article, from the studios of Messrs A Hardy and W. Ferrer. TIMARU HARBOUR BOARD Back Row (from left to right)� C E. Wightman (clerk), Captain _. N Clarkson (harbour master), C N. Orbell, W. Hayman, R. Thew, C. H. Besley. Middle Row Press Reporter, J. B. Barnes (resident engineer), J. Chisholm, F. J Rolleston, F. H. Smith (junior). Front Row W. J. Bardsley (secretary), R. Skinner, J. Fraser, J. Craigie (chairman), C. Bowker, J. Manchester, T. D. Young.

 

Timaru Harbour by Goodall

Newspaper Snippets

21 Dec. 1973: Three hundred new Datsun 140J cars are offloaded at the Port of Timaru. They are part of a shipment after the Government relaxed the rules on importing new cars. Each of the 300 cars were already sold to South Island owners.

Caroline Bay with the loop road in 1976.

9 March 1978: Kenton Trawling's vessel Leander lands a record 930 cases of fish at the Port of Timaru. The catch was obtained in only nine tows 50km south-east of Timaru.

30 May 1983: Five Soviet ships are in the Port of Timaru. Three are fishing trawlers, one a fish carrier, and the other a meat carrier.

9 May 1989: The live sheep trade to the Middle East through the Port of Timaru resumed after being temporarily suspended, with the loading of 65,000 sheep.

The Timaru Harbour Board ceased to exist and in 1989 was the first year of the Port of Timaru company.

Timaru, Oct 5 - The $9 million Challenge fuel terminal was officially opened at the Port of Timaru today. The company met its aim of being operational on October 1, with the first tanker leaving the site with an hour to spare at 11pm. The company aimed to sell 50 percent of the terminal to local investors, 25 percent to South Island dealers and retain 25 percent.

13 January 2000 : Loading  about 14,000 tonnes of woodchips on the 40,215 gross registered tonne Crimson Mercury began at the Port of Timaru yesterday ahead of its scheduled departure for Kushiro, Japan, tomorrow. The 200-metre long vessel was one of the biggest cargo ships the port had handled to date. The woodchip pile on the wharf stood at about 20,000 tonnes, and whatever was left after the Crimson Mercury departed would be trucked to Port Chalmers and exported from there.

1 February 2000 : The heavy-lift ship Fret Savoie will have a bit more heavy lift than normal when it delivers the Port of Timaru's new $5 million crane later this week. The vessel is due to arrive in port on Friday, it would have three Austrian-made Liebherr cranes on board - one for Timaru, one for the Port of Nelson and one for Patricks in Sydney. The port company bought the new crane after it secured a huge dairy company contract to export product from the Clandeboye dairy factory and container services returned to the port as a result. Two of the three lines have already started at the port. The third, Maersk, is due to kick off services on February 18 when the 178-metre Maersk Wellington is scheduled to make the line's first visit. Meanwhile, the port's channel dredging programme is set to finish next week. The programme, which has run in December and January, had restored the harbour channel to a depth of 10 metres after a big storm in July.

10 February 2000 : The Port of Timaru's new $4.8m mobile crane is taking shape on the waterfront, and should be assembled within 10 days. The new Austrian-made crane - a later model of an existing crane at the port - was needed to handle a significant increase in container traffic. The crane is fitted with castor wheels, allowing the crane to move in any direction. As well, the boom is fitted with a camera to allow the operator to see over loads. The Port of Timaru was beginning to service more international container lines. Since many modern container ships did not have cranes, they must be serviced from shore. He said container line Maersk Sealand would operate through Timaru from the end of the month. The crane is a significant investment for the port, which is handling an increasing amount of dairy product from Clandeboye. The crane can also be used for bulk and break-bulk cargo.

8 April 2000: Timaruvians lined every vantage point as HM Bark Endeavour rode a southerly swell into the calm of Timaru harbour.
The replica ship sailed slowly into the harbour yesterday afternoon after sitting offshore for several hours, and thrilled a large crowd with two bursts of cannon fire. A small flotilla of support craft - yachts, motorboats, and fishing vessels - rode lumpy seas to see the Endeavour weigh anchor and begin her stately ride to harbour, and three small planes flew over several times in welcome.  Timaru's tug Te Maru - Maori for place of shelter - and pilot vessel Ohau guided the Endeavour in for her eight-day stay in Timaru, the longest stay in the South Island. Also watching the $20m Endeavour move gracefully into harbour were guests of Central South Island Tourism, who are in South Canterbury on a familiarisation tour. Port of Timaru has waived berthage charges for HM Endeavour.

15 April 2000: Timaru turned out last night to officially welcome new shipping service Maersk Sealand to the Port of Timaru.
A new fortnightly service by Maersk Sealand from the Port of Timaru began in February with a call by the Maersk Wellington, the result of an initial contact by the port company in November 1996. Port company chairman Alastair Betts said the company had focused on improving its infrastructure, and had been fortunate to attract Maersk. When the Maersk Wellington arrived in February for the first time, the port was able to provide two mobile cranes to work the ship, and together with the shipboard cranes, handled more than 30 containers an hour. The second mobile harbour crane is an Austrian-made Leibherr crane, worth $5 million.

5 Dec. 2000: Members of the Waterfront Workers Union stage a peaceful protest at Port of Timaru against the use of casual and out-of-town labour.

11 August 2001:  The New Zealand Customs Service is making some changes to the way it provides services in South Canterbury by closing its Timaru office. The Timaru office had been open to the public for four hours a day but from August 22 would be closed permanently.

25 May 2002: Multi-million dollar development is continuing at the Port of Timaru with Polarcold Stores Ltd announcing yesterday it has started construction of a 8500-tonne capacity cool store. It is being built on the former Desmond Unwin site on Hayes Street and is expected to cost more than $7 million. The latest development follows hard on the heels of the 1.6 hectare dry goods store built at the port by Port Dairy Stores Timaru Ltd at a cost of $5 million, a large cool store being built by McCains Foods, and $8 million worth of upgrade work on the port itself. With the new buildings, Polarcold will be able to store more than 30,000 tonnes of diary products across a varied range of temperatures.

11 June 2003 : The departure of the ship Tasman Sea from the Port of Timaru today marks an auspicious occasion in the movement of logs. It is the first time since 1975 a ship has left Canterbury full of logs from the province. The Tasman Sea left Lyttelton on Sunday with a record 20,000 tonnes of logs and has added a further 6000 tonnes at PrimePort Timaru. The Tasman Sea shipment is being exported by Forestry Management Ltd, which is based in both Christchurch and Timaru. The logs are bound for pulp and sawmilling customers in Korea and China.

9 September 2004: The Rangatira makes a stunning picture leaving the Port of Timaru on its voyage to the Chathams yesterday. The ship has been servicing the Chathams for over four years and carries general freight including groceries, hardware and animals.

6 November 2004: An unusual ship, the ice breaker, Nathaniel B Palmer, is to make a brief call at the Port of Timaru, tomorrow, to take on fuel. The vessel has returned from the deep south as it needed to restore its fuel reserves before returning to carry out further ice work and servicing of Antarctic stations. Commissioned in 1992 the Nathaniel B Palmer was built in response to the United States national policy which calls for maintaining an active presence in Antarctica through scientific research. The vessel is able to break through ice up to one metre thick allowing research to be done in previously inaccessible regions. The state-of-the-art, oceanographic research vessel is capable of supporting marine biology, physical and chemical oceanography, marine geology and geophysics, ice physics, meteorology and other research. She carries a crew of 26 and 37 scientists. The vessel was essentially a floating scientific research station that worked in the southern ocean all year long.

24 February 2005 The departure of 4500 live pedigree sheep for Mexico today is believed to be the largest shipment of its kind in the world. Christchurch genetics exporter Arthur Blakely has taken 18 months to prepare the vessel-load of 4300 stud breeding ewes and 200 rams leaving from the Port of Timaru. The sheep were sourced from 138 properties from Invercargill to Whangarei. The shipment departs from the Port of Timaru for Mexico today in what could be the start of a substantial earner for the region's sheep breeders. Christchurch genetics exporter Arthur Blakely has taken 18 months to prepare the load of 4300 stud breeding ewes and 200 rams. About 700 of the sheep have been sourced from South Canterbury farms. The remainder of the sheep were sourced from more than 100 properties from Invercargill to just north of Whangarei. The breeds on the shipment are suffolks, poll dorsets, hampshires and texels. About 700 dairy heifers are also on the shipment, but that is being organised by another company.

15 March 2005
The HMNZS Canterbury left Timaru's shores for the final time yesterday amid scenes of sadness and reflection. A charter parade, which marked the farewell visit for the vessel, was held outside the Landing Services building. After the official ceremony the frigate's crew marched up Stafford Street. A number of people lined the parade route, with many breaking into spontaneous applause as the navy personnel marched past. Those gathered were given a special treat when the sailors launched a volley of shots into the air with their guns. The HMNZS Canterbury had been berthed at the Port of Timaru since Friday. Yesterday afternoon the 113-metre frigate departed for Akaroa and Lyttelton before heading to Auckland where it will be decommissioned at the Devonport Naval Baseat the end of the month. No decision has been made as to what will happen with the hulk of the frigate once it has been decommissioned. The crew will be reassigned to a range of new vessels. Yesterday's charter parade was a celebration of the frigate's 33-year history. HMNZS Canterbury commander Peter Kempster said he was proud of the ship's achievements even though it had never engaged in battle.

26 January 2006 End of an era: Slowly the SGS terminal at the Port of Timaru north mole is dismantled to make way for more container storage on the wharf. Timaru Metal Recyclers pulled out wires from the old building. Twenty-one silos will eventually be pulled down. SGS has relocated to the south- west side of the Port using the silos adjacent to Primeport's offices and its offices are now in the old port administration building on the corner of Hayes and Ritchie streets.

30 August 2007 HMNZS Te Mana, the second of the Navy's Anzac class frigates, will arrive in Timaru today. The ship's commanding officer Wilson Trumper, formerly of Temuka, said he was proud to be bringing the ship to his home port of Timaru. Commander Trumper and his crew of 163 men and women have invited the public to visit the ship on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.

5 July 2007: New Zealand's newest military acquisition, the HMNZS Canterbury, was welcomed to South Canterbury yesterday. The multi-role vessel is the first of the navy's seven new ships being built for the force under the $500 million Project Protector. The 131m, 9000-tonne vessel was a sight to behold as it slid effortlessly across the water while the New Zealand Navy Band performed a medley of songs from the wharf. It is powered by two diesel engines and two electric motors, giving 19 knots at full speed, and has an operational range of 8000 nautical miles. Two landing craft are also on board and are unloaded by powerful cranes. HMNZS Canterbury will be used to patrol New Zealand's exclusive economic zone, the Southern Ocean and South Pacific as well as delivering humanitarian and disaster relief aid and supporting peacekeeping missions. The vessel shares its name with the navy's last Leander class frigate, decommissioned on March 31, 2005. Affiliated to the Canterbury region, the ship's home ports will be Lyttelton and Timaru.

In 2007, container capacity was reduced by 60 per cent when two direct weekly services from Timaru using ships with capacity of around 2500 containers were replaced by a single service with a capacity of 1000 containers.

20 March 2008 : Container lines Maersk and Hamburg Sud have announced they will combine their container services currently operating through Timaru on to the USA and Europe. They will be replaced with a smaller service once a week feeding into Port Chalmers. Two direct weekly services from Timaru using ships with capacity around 2500 containers would be replaced by a single service with capacity of 1000 containers." The effects of the decision would be wide-reaching, he said, but was unwilling to discuss the fate of the 100 full- time and casual staff at the port or the new port's tug presently being built in China. South Canterbury was the "food basket" of New Zealand, she said, and needed capacity to ship the goods. Maersk Line group vice president Jorgen Harling said the change of the Oceania Service was caused by increasing fuel costs.

Timaru Herald 31 August 2009
PrimePort Timaru lost the Fonterra contract. It was a major blow to the port of Timaru with dairy products making up about half the port's containerised cargo and ended a 50-year relationship between the local dairy industry and the port. The local cheese companies built the co-op coolstores at the port in 1959. Fonterra is to ship product from its Clandeboye cheese factory by rail to Lyttelton. . The port's company has a long container history, beginning Ro-ro roll on, roll off vessels in the 1970s. Timaru was the first port in New Zealand to install a mobile crane to handle containers. The port's container cargo and while it is a significant trade, it's not the only cargo going across the wharves. A container can go on a multi-purpose, or a container ship, on a ro-ro ship. Bulk cargo is more likely to remain loyal or captive to its port of origin e.g. logs.

Timaru Herald 11/07/2012
PrimePort is set to lose a third of its revenue following the announcement global container lines Maersk and Hamburg Sud will withdraw their Timaru service. The service will now operate direct to Napier from Otago, the change taking effect in mid-September, slicing $6 million from the port company's annual revenue. Timaru District Council's commercial arm, Timaru District Holdings, has a 71.4 per cent shareholding in PrimePort. The Rail and Maritime Transport Union says the move is expected to mean the loss of more than 50 jobs. PrimePort chief executive Jeremy Boys said 90 per cent of PrimePort's operations staff are involved in container handling and expected more than 50 jobs to be lost. PrimePort employs 55 permanent and 30 casual staff. "This is the only container service into Timaru and although the Port is at the epicentre of the South Island's trade with perhaps the most direct logistics, it is difficult to see that the container business can continue or be put into a holding scenario without ships calling." After September, the containers would be offloaded at Port Chalmers in Dunedin and sent to Timaru by rail.

10th Timaru Herald Sept. 2013 Sale of port. Port of Tauranga to buy 21.43 per cent of PrimePort's shares from Timaru District Holdings Ltd (TDHL), the council's holding company, and the 28.57 per cent stake that Port Industry Holdings Ltd, a group of local investors.

Timaru Herald  05/07/2014
Silos at the top of no 2 wharf came down to make way for import cement terminal.


April 2014, early morning


Photograph taken by Mr. A. Fischer of Timaru pre 1896.  

Timaru Herald, 9 June 1882, Page 2
Accident to Mr Goodall. We regret to hear that Mr Goodall, Harbor Works Engineer, met with a nasty accident on Saturday last. He was attending a meet of the hounds, when his horse shying at something cannoned against another one, and the shock unseated Mr Goodall, who fell heavily, the result being one or two broken ribs. This accident is the more unfortunate since Mr Goodall's duties as Engineer require special attention just now.

Timaru Herald, 10 January 1882, Page 2
Theatre Royal. There was crowded house at the Theatre Royal last evening to greet Lyons' Tourist Party, on their second appearance in Timaru. The hit of the evening was made by Miss Horton, when she gave the following impromptu verses : 

Our Breakwater is very near completed,
Of its success there's not the slightest fear,
We soon will have a safe and handy harbor
If Captain Sutter does not choke the Engineer.
They quarrel over nothing every meeting,
And fight about the gravel and the Bills,
But their fuss about the harbor and the Cashmere,
Was blighted by our old friend Captain Mills.

Miss Horton had to repeat these verses twice before the audience would allow her to finally retire.



The breakwater, Timaru, photographed by William Ferrier ca 1910-1913- ATL

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 25 August 1868, Page 3 Tsunami Earthquake wave at sea
The Comerang, from Timaru, arrived in harbour yesterday morning. The following is the captain's report At Timaru, on the morning of the 15th instant, about five o'clock, the men at the old Government landing service, whilst in the act of preparing to launch a cargo-boat, in order to come off to the Comerang, were washed up on the beach by a sudden rise of the sea about six feet which in the course of five minutes fell to a lower level than has ever been witnessed at Timaru. The sea rose and fell on the beach rapidly for the space of four hours with a strong current, changing with the rise and fall of tide. In the offing, the Comerang narrowly escaped parting from her anchors through a succession of whirlpools, causing the vessel to turn round very frequently. There were no signs of any eruption during the passage. Yesterday afternoon the tide had not returned to its ordinary state, and there was still a strong current in the harbour.

Timaru Herald, 21 April 1898, Page 3 A NOVEL OFFER.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMARU HERALD. Sir, I am H. Kaahu, of Temuka (Maori), sixty years of age; and I have had great experience of the Timaru port. The said breakwater was wrongly established at first. I want one hundred and fifty pounds per year for my plan, already made. I am, etc., H. Kaahu. Temuka, 17, IV., 1898.

Press, 23 June 1914, Page 6
During the fierce southerly gale which raged over the Peninsula on Saturday and Sunday, the little motor launch, Jean Wilson, formerly the Temahara, had a perilous voyage from Timaru. The boat had been purchased by Mr H. Wilson, of Christchurch, who went down to Timaru to bring her up to Lyttelton, where she is to be engaged in the fishing trade. Accompanied by W. Bailey, engineer, and T. Leicester and Wenlock, seamen. Mr Wilson left Timaru at 4.36, a.m. on Sunday. When about two or three miles out they ran into the southerly gale, and soon shipped seas which flooded the little craft, and set everything awash. It was only by constant bailing and keeping the pumps that the boat was kept afloat. To add to their trouble one of the benzine tanks got damaged, and broke adrift. The engine-room was battened down to keep the seas from the engine, and the perilous task of filling the tank had to be done as best they, could. After a trying and hazardous trip Akaroa Harbour was reached at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Wanted a photo of Elsie Evans on the Timaru harbour?

Who was Elsie Evans? When did she die?
The launch was named after Mrs Elizabeth Bain Evans (also known as Elsie). She was the 2nd wife of William Evans, Chairman of the Timaru Harbour Board from 1899 to 1904 and when the launch "Elsie Evans" was delivered to Timaru from her builders Ryan & Co. in Auckland. She cost 700 pounds. The launch was delivered to Timaru in February 1902 and was sold in 1927. She spent many years as a harbour ferry on Dunedin harbour. Mrs (Elsie) Elizabeth Bain Evans died on 2 December 1950 aged 86 and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery. She was the second wife of William Evans, of flour mill fame. She was sitting in a paddock when the South Canterbury Historical Society bought her for $1200 in 1997 with the intention of restoring her. John Sutherland, of Portobello, discovered the boat in 1974 where it had been rotting away for 12 years under a macrocarpa hedge in Waihola. She was later given to a Dunedin organisation who wanted to restore her themselves. The last time she was in the water was when she was lifted out of the Rattray St Wharf in September, 1962. The cost of making her seaworthy had ruled out that option, but the Otago Harbour Ferry (OHF) organisation was keen to see the boat in the water again and struck a deal with the historical society, in which ownership of the vessel remained with the society, but she was on permanent loan to the Dunedin group. Restoring the vessel has taken more than six years, and cost just under $500,000. Plans to relaunch in 30 June 2012 with a new jetty in Portobello. The ferry would be berthed alongside Monarch and operate down the eastern channel, between Glenfalloch, Broad Bay, Portobello and Port Chalmers

The Elsie Evans was built by Auckland firm Charles Bailey Jr, as the first pilot boat for the Timaru Harbour Board and as a replacement for its paddle-tug Mana. She was launched at the boat builder's yard on December 31, 1901, being named after the wife of the harbour board chairman at the time, William Evans. Originally termed a benzine launch, the Elsie Evans was 42 feet (12.8 metres) in length with a beam of 8 feet 6 inches (2.6 metres) and a draft of 39 inches (one metre). The hull was made of three skins of kauri, copper fastened and sheathed in muntz metal below the waterline. The wheel was on the foredeck just in front of the engine house, with the engineer being directed by a bell pulley. The question of the boat's open cockpit must have caused concern, since, after paying 700 to have her built, the harbour board soon afterwards spent a further 176 5s 2d on alterations and additions. The Harbour Board's 1902 annual report noted that with the additions completed, the vessel was "giving every satisfaction and was admirably suited for the work she was originally intended". The boat's main tasks were to tow small craft, tend the big steamers, take the health officer out to deep-sea sailing vessels and carry the pilots. Those were roles she continued until 1927, when she was sold to Captain Percy Moss, of the Portobello Railway and Ferry Co. From 1928, she was used as a launch to tow barges, carry freight, and ferry passengers when the company's other ferries Tarewai and Waireka were out of service. In 1944, she took over from the Tarewai and regularly sailed the 2.4 kilometres between Portobello and Port Chalmers, carrying up to 37 passengers. It was a role she continued in until 1954.

Timaru Herald, 27 January 1916, Page 7
Yesterday afternoon two men who went out fishing narrowly escaped drowning in the roadstead. They hired a boat early in the evening and had rowed out some distance when a strong south -westerly squall came up suddenly and they were soon in trouble. There was little hope of them reaching the harbour by rowing. However their plight was noticed by a number of people and the motor launches Victoria and Elsie Evans put out, and the former soon had them in tow. It was a very timely rescue for the boat could not have lived long in the rapidly rising sea.

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