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Many of the boats that have been on Lake Taupo originally came from Napier.  Amongst these boats was one which in its day was fairly recognisable and used to attract quite a bit of amused comment, however in spite of its ungainly shape and looks it was a very reliable boat.In the early days before roads were put in, small steamers, similar in size to the Ernest Kemp, and sailing scows used to go up and down the coast of New Zealand collecting wool and providing supplies to farms and distant rural stations.
Because in many cases they couldn't make landfall, these scows would anchor off shore and the Ahuriri and boats like her would be used to tow lighters loaded with wool bales out to the ships.  The farmers would bring the bales down to the beach on horse-drawn wagons.  These wagons would be driven into the surf, the lighters brought in as close as possible, loaded with 2 or 3 bales, and then towed in a small convoy by the Ahuriri to be loaded into the waiting steamer.
The Ahuriri could tow several lighters at a time.  On some occasions when the sea was calm the steamer would come right in to the beach to load at half tide and then pull away on the rising tide.
 Ahuriri, and boats like her, were usually powered by one-cylinder engines.  When they finished their day's work they would be run to shore.  If there wasn't permanent shelter they would be kept up a slipway or a river.
They were very  beamy boats, 20ft long with a beam of 8ft.  They were saucer-shaped double-ender boats with blunt bows and pointed at both ends. Colossally strong, they would have triple skins around their heavy kauri frames.  The skins were double-diagonal with fore and aft planks on the outside.This strength was all necessary because often these boats would bang against the side of the steamers while loading.
 When the Ahuriri came to Taupo she still had her one-cylinder engine in her.  Her owners used her for fishing trips to the Western Bays.  She was very slow putt-putting away on her one cylinder going all of 4mph.  She was an open boat originally but a small cabin was fitted later.
 Ahuriri was based in Taupo but another boat like her was down at Tokaanu.  Both boats are well remembered..


The brochure on the Awatea has an interesting story about recent fishing on Lake Taupo.  For nearly 100 years now professional fishing guides have been taking tourists out on Lake Taupo and over the years a reputation has been built up which is difficult to challenge.  However, with the growth of the tourist and leisure industry in the past ten years, other lakes are now offering professional guide services.
As the guides in these other areas started to develop an infrastructure and realised that Taupo was an area with this reputation, they  needed a way to promote their own lakes.  Instead of saying how good the fishing was in their areas, they claimed that the fishing had dropped off at Taupo.  This was backed up in 1976 with several articles appearing in a metropolitan newspaper.
Simon Dickie at this stage, had not long been operating his professional fishing service on the Awatea.  After reading these articles he decided to put right this claim and discussed it with Bill Meehl, who was then the public relations officer in Taupo.  They contacted Rex Forrester, the head of hunting and fishing  in the Government Tourist Bureau, and asked him to arrange for five people to be taken out on the Awatea and each would be guaranteed a limit bag in a day.  This was in early December and a day was chosen at random which by coincidence happened to be January 13th, so odds were stacked against its happening.
They ended up catching five limit bags on that day.  They got a lot of criticism for killing 50 fish but a point had been proved and never again has a magazine or newspaper carried an article criticising fishing on Lake Taupo.
The Awatea was built locally by Bernie Dale.  The hull was built in 1970 for Acme Marine  but they didn't want to be involved in bigger boats so they sold the hull to Simon Dickie.  He had Bernie and Don Norton finish the boat off and this was done in 1973.
In those days it had an aft cabin so it had two separate accommodation units, one forward and one aft.  She was used extensively for overnight trips in the 1970s but with the advent of Waianiwa she wasn’t needed for this so the aft cabin was removed and converted to a large cockpit.  This was more practical as she is now only a day boat.  She still has two bunks forward and a convertible table in the cockpit.

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