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was a familiar sight on Lake Taupo for many years. She was one of the
Lake Taupo Yacht Club's patrol boats and served the club faithfully as
well as acting as a rescue boat in emergencies.
as she was simply named, was a 25ft ex-naval boat that was built in
England in the early 1940s as a motorboat for the Dido class cruiser,
the Royalist. As a motorboat she was stored on the Royalist's
deck and would be dropped into the sea by a crane. She could carry up
to 25 people and was used both as a utility boat carrying personnel from
ship to shore and from ship to ship, and as a motorboat in an emergency
towing other lifeboats.
She had 20 years’ active service with the
Royalist which was
eventually sold to the NZ Navy. When the Royalist was
decommissioned P1 was firstly used by the Ministry of Works to
carry out hydrological surveys in the Kaipara Harbour for a proposed
power station. She lay on the Kaipara tied up for two or three months
and was then offered to the Lake Taupo Yacht Club.
The Navy had done maintenance work on
P1 to bring her up to
standard and later the Taupo Yacht Club made further modifications.
P1 is powered by a 10hp 1000 rev twin cylinder Dorman Ricardo
diesel. This is a very slow running diesel which made the boat very
suitable for towing work.
was used many times to pull in yachts with broken rigging and to rescue
boats stranded on sandbanks. As one of the first patrol boats of the
Lake Taupo Yacht Club, P1 was called on to lay out the marker
buoys, to act as a starter and finish boat. It was employed in a
variety of other duties.
She was without many of the comforts of a modern launch and visitors out
on her discovered that getting to the bow was rather an awkward
manoeuvre. She was a good companion to a number of people over the
years while she was in Taupo and was looked over by many visitors.
In 1982 she went to Auckland where she is now used for training by the
RNZN Leander Sea Scouts on the Waitemata Harbour.
For many households that look out over Tapuaeharuru Bay one small boat
attracts more than its share of interest during the weekends and on
Wednesday evenings during the summer. She is the Lake Taupo Yacht
Club's patrol boat, simply known as P3. With her distinctive
hull and two masts she is easily recognised.
Whether it is a flat calm, sunny evening or a large swell with a 30-knot
southerly blowing up the lake, P3, with her crew of Nat Gould and
Arch Coker, will be out there setting out the buoys and starting the
She hasn't always been known as
P3, her original name was Kathleen M and she was based in Auckland and used for fishing. In
the late 1960s Laurie Tyler, a local school teacher, was looking for a
launch like her and when she was advertised some friends contacted him
and he went to look at her. She hadn't been out of the water for a long
time, but they liked the boat so went up to Westhaven with a trailer,
bought her and after an eventual 12 hour trip she arrived in Taupo where
she has been ever since.
When she was lifted out of the water they had to remove barnacles and
some very long tentacles of weed. P3 hasn't changed much over
the years, few alterations have been made.
Originally, being a fishing boat, she had a big fish box in the cockpit
which could carry a ton of fish. She also had a little pipe mast in her
dodger. (The Yacht Club later put on two masts). Laurie removed the
original engine and installed an engine which he found in perfect
condition under a canvas in a Mere Road garden. This was a six-cylinder
Universal engine, the Cruiser 6 model, petrol engine with a very long
head and was a good motor.
The Yacht Club replaced it with a Buhk diesel.
hull is unusual in that it is a rare example of a fibreglass sheathed
planked treatment. P3 had a trick to her steering which was
interesting. She had a recirculating steering box, which meant that if
she turned to starboard, she would turn that way and then while still
being turned to starboard she would start to come back to port. It
seems that if the steering reaches a maximum it commences to work its
way back along the ball inside the steering box.
The Piri Pono was once the fastest boat on the lake. Her 150hp
straight 8 Niagara engine gave her a top speed of 32mph. She was fast
and fairly heavy and could head off a strong northerly.
Built in the late 1920s or early 1930s for Robert Laidlaw, the founder
of the Farmers Trading Company, the Piri Pono was an American
Chris Craft design. She had a cockpit at the front with two rows of
seats and a windscreen. There was also a cockpit at the stern and in
between were hatches which opened up to the engine. She had a planing
hull and was 28ft long. Originally her hull which was constructed of
mahogany from Honduras was varnished and it was only later that she was
Piri Pono was a beautiful boat and Robert Laidlaw took a
pride in her. He kept her in a boatshed at Two Mile Bay near to Manuels.
In the 1930s she was the subject of a search and rescue mission when she
failed to return from a day trip on the lake with a dozen school
children on board. The Lapwing and the Romance set out at
10pm and shortly after midnight she was found in Boat Harbour, Kawakawa,
in Western Bay safe and sound. Her engine had been giving trouble. In
those days search and rescue was difficult with no radio communication
or aerial surveillance to call upon.
During the Second World War she was requisitioned by the Air Force,
taken up to Hobsonville to be used by the commanding officer there. The
Air Force painted her hull white and added on a cabin and replaced the
motor with a Chrysler engine.
Piri Pono came back to the lake and her owner minus an
engine. Robert Laidlaw put two Gray Marines in and she became a
twinscrew which is what she is today.
Blair Major bought her from the Laidlaw family and sold her to Peter
Willis around 1982-83. She has been subsequently fully restored to her
beautiful original condition and can be seen at her latest home at the
Auckland Maritime Museum.
has had a varied and interesting history since she was launched over 80
years ago. She is no longer in Taupo but is working on the Kaipara
From 1950 to 1965
Ponui was the running mate to the Victory
and carried many tourists for fishing trips out on the lake. Like
Victory she was owned by the Taylor family. They bought her from
the Napier Harbour Board who had been using her as a pilot boat.
earlier history is quite interesting as she was built for an Ernest
Chamberlain in 1901. He was a gentleman farmer who owned Ponui Island
in the Hauraki Gulf, and it was from this island that her name was
She was used for pleasure and to take supplies from Auckland to Ponui
Island. She was sold to the Napier Harbour Board and used as a pilot
launch. Bought by the Taylors, in 1950, she was brought to Taupo..
was 43ft 6in long, had a beam of 10ft 6in and was powered by a 20hp
internal combustion engine. Originally she was laid out with a cabin
and had a little galley and a toilet. The Harbour Board had put a small
‘dog box’ on her and she was controlled from there.
The Taylors, when they bought the
Ponui, raised the cabin to get
6ft of head room. The original head room was 5ft 6in. They also put a
proper pilot's house on her.
There was an Ailsa Craig diesel engine in the boat when she came to
Taupo and this was never changed although it was rebuilt. An auxiliary
engine was used for trolling.
was a double-ender with a canoe stern. She was triple skin kauri and
used to be painted every year. In those days Ponui and Victory would be out of the water for about three months of the
year. The fishing season was closed from the 31st May to the 1st
had a brief but busy career in Taupo before she went down to her present
home in the north of the South Island where she worked as a tourist
launch for many years until she moved north to Kaipara.