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Sunday 20 March 2016

Composite list of HDML's still active.

Kia ora katoa, welcome all.  This site is my tribute to all things Motor Launch, be they HDML (Harbour Defense Motor Launches) or also known as SDML (Seaward Defense Motor Launches).  This blogsite deals only with ML's, Fairmiles are catered for elsewhere.

I served in the Navy from May 1975 until 2002, retiring after 12 years a Chief Petty Officer Assistant Hydrographic Surveyor. I spent 3 years (1976 - 1979) on both SML's Tarapunga and Takapu.  I was a very junior survey assistant back then but became so enamoured with them I want my own one.

This is a living document and as such needs active updating, please contact me below in Reply for any edits/etc you feel need addressing (or my email - zappydodah@hotmail.com) or for providing photos and ditties ML related.
Of the 16 originally delivered from USA in 1943/44 and worked by RNZN, 7 (as at 12/10/2018) still remain in differing stage of seaworthiness.  The 9 others were broken down for parts or met their fate and are spread around various other owners.  The following mainly deal with the 7 survivors with plenty of data per ML. 

(as an aside Australia had 34 HDML's of which only one remains.)

I am open to receiving photos/data/ditties to enhance this site especially unawares and staged Crew shots (with accompanying names/ranks/evolution). However if you have photos or dits from any of the "deceased" ML's I'll willingly take them for prosperity.

Current catalogue of Photo's in this blog numbers 206 as at December 19 2018. (and growing).

Following two files, donated from Roy Quinn (ex Olphert.)

ML History updated 3/10/2022

HDML History of HDML

The later to be commissioned HMNZS Tarapunga being taken off the Liberty delivery ship (USS Kootenay Park) by Floating Crane Hikitia at Wellington 30th April 1943. Edited 3/10/2022. Have had word (from John Ackrill, archivist for Floating Crane Hikitia) that the floating crane in the above photo is the Floating Crane  Mahua from Auckland Harbour Board. And he does not know why.

ML's being unloaded off a Liberty Ship in Wellington April 1943.

Discovered tonight (24/4/2018) the following (from this website)

USS Frank Joseph Irwin - Q1183 and Q1184 arrived Wellington NZ 18 January 1943
USS Pere Marquette - Q1185 and Q1186 arriving Wellington 5 April  1943
USS Kootenay Park - Q1187 to Q1190  arriving Wellington 30 April 1943
USS Mount Robson Park Q1191 - Q1194 arriving in Auckland 25 August 1943
and ML's Q1348 to Q1351 arrived 28 February 1944 but no shipping details.

Hdml Paea Got sent this some time ago from a friend in the US - Madden & Lewis boatyard in San Francisco - around the time our boat was built!!! Pretty cool photo


Where it all started, men go down to the sea  in ships and then memories are born.

Click here for comprehensive ML data. and this image is one of the four Liberty Ships, the SS Frank Joseph Irwin, that delivered them here.

Click here for ML database by UK Navypedia site.
UK HDML model showing full WWII Livery.

The following two drawings are supplied by Norm Morgan  (HMNZS Mako 1974)

Courtesy of John MacLean I have always favoured the hard chine designs and made many models of MGB's and MTB's. However, the round bilge hulls are only capable of limited hull speed and when sailed properly can cover long distances on less fuel and power. Hence good for Fishery patrols of the day.

 Happened to find new plans from WWII ML configuration.

Click here for Radio Set Up. (From RNZN Communications website)

What follows is a labour of love. ( and I will say there are variant sources for this and they are acknowledged.)

Procedure Alpha

This image of Inverell M233 and 5 ML's in Port Entry at Port Nicholson had been a puzzle now partially solved. Under the zoomed microscope I can make out the two near vessels (P3564 Koura and P 3562 Parore) with next two a probable only (P3554 Maroro) then next even harder to be sure (possibly P3567 Manga) and the last (on Port Bow of Inverell) is probably Mako/Kuparu/Ngapona(unlikely) Since proven to be Kuparu . The image appears to be pre 1968 (Old White Ensign)  

Added by Gordon Mole Catermole 2 July 2019.  The procedure Alpha photo (above) was taken in Wellington Harbour January 1968 at the end of Phase 1 on RESERVE EX 67 in the Marlborough Sounds I was in KUPARU P3563 closest to INVERELL as a young Ord Seaman just afore I joined Regulars.

Click on Here for Navy Museum write up on ML's

Click on this link for details in Wiki and the ML information's.

Click here for The Australian  HDML story.  and latest article on Rushcutter as of 16/7/2018

Click here for comprehensive database on HDML/SDML - Medusa Trust. and this page highlights fate of HDML's in toto. Click Here 480 built and a handful remain (NZ has most)  

HMS Medusa below decks. (21/12/2018)

Click on here for NZ Naval Board Report, two mentions of ML's (1946)

Click on here for another site with HDML (and Fairmile) data.

Click here for data on rescuing ML1085 (UK) Donor is John Poynter exRNZN

Two jpeg's on the fate of ML's circa 70's (donated by Greg Philpott)

Follows is standard livery fit for WWII HDML

Type: Harbour/Seaward Defence Motor Launches
Displacement: 54 tonnes
Dimensions: 22 x 4.8 x 1.6m
Machinery: 2 x shaft Grey Diesels bhp 330 = 10-12 knots
Wartime Armament:
2 x 50cal machineguns
1 x 20mm Oerlikon
2 x twin mounted Vickers machineguns
8 x depth charges
Peacetime: Unarmed
HDML Stars in Guns of Navarone. (Click on link)


Following two images were donated by Rob Jamieson, from his fathers archives.  He thinks they were Paea and Mako and definitely in Hokitika River mid 50's.

Dixie-Ted Boraman Remember the Mls coming into the Hokitika river,still at school at the time.Ml beached on the island to carry out repairs to damaged planking which occurred on entering the river. Island in the river no longer exists or the wharf. Cant recall name of vessels Crew enjoyed their delayed stay with the Red Lion Hotel across the road.
 Mako alongside stem to current.
Paea?? aground fixing rudders

All individual ML sections has the First Name known as for that ML, a four letter Call Sign, the crest per vessels and Builders details (Yard and Locations)

The following two pictures I received a wee time back (and forgot I had them).  Q1184 (HDML Paea) with what looks like a Liberty Boat run to or from Motuihe Island during hostilities (WWII)  The other is probably the same time with 3 HDML's Line Astern.


Mako   (ZMSR Call sign)
(Crest is a Shark)

now at Queensland - 2017

Madden Lewis - builder

Sausilito  Location

Q1183 and P3551

Mako in Hauraki Gulf 1943

Below - Mako entering Greymouth Harbour 1957 (courtesy Geoff Brebner)

HMNZS Mako (centre left) in Tauranga Harbour 1967. (Donated by Gillmore Wall.)

Model version of Mako.

Mako and Esmeralda
Image above was taken by Bruce Nicol (RIP) and is Mako in Wellington Harbour  14 October 1970
Mako in Brisbane (looks like the Brisbane River)

Cockle Cove,Marlborough Sounds.  (supplied by Mark Maguire of HMNZS Olphert)

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Turvey - August 2018
Mako at Scarborough Marina Queensland Australia.

Mako slipped 2018 in Moreton Bay, Brisbane

Image above is Mako at Marine Auctions, Brisbane I have emailed the brokerage firm for her fate. (as at 25th January 2020.)  ADDED As at 26th January 2020 Mako was sold into privater ownership on or about 16th December 2019 and is currently undergoing a small refit. 

From David Robertson (Mako 1965 - 1966)

Joined from Manawanui in November 1965 and drafted off in November 1966 when David Niven Woods the Skipper got a crash draft to Waikato as the Nav Officer. Went to get the mail in Phjilly and when I came back they were all gone. Note in my office to lock up and catch the train to Waiouru.
Was onboard up north when the Kaitaia sunk in May 1966. There is a dit or two to tell about that storm.......
Dicky Downs first coxswain followed by Vince Sturmey. Took a bit of time to train Vince but we got there.

From (then ABS) Ted Haar, Mako 1971-72.  A great look at life on a Black Boat.

Black Boats..........About 72 ft long and 10ft wide.........build't during the war years to travel at around 35 knots wooden hulls...….9 crew 1x Officer 2x PO,'s 6x Jnr Rates......
You went down from 1 deck throu the fwd hatch into the fwd mess this is were the Jnr Rates lived 2 Sailors 2 Stokers 1 Radio Mech and 1 Radio Operator.....we start at the sharp end in the pointy bit is the heads you back in do your business then the fun begins you play with a couple of valves to hand pump the moon fish out hoping like hell the boat didn't fall off a wave and the moon fish came charging back before you shut off the valves...….
In the mess there was 4 bunks Port side 2 bunks Star'd side on the Star'd side was the galley it had a stove in it diesel powered you started it by lighting the diesel then putting a blower on.....on a good day this stove could be red hot and all was good on bad days after 4 hours you could hold your hand on it and not be burn't there was an H shaped chimney so the roughers wouldn't come down into the galley ……..there was also a sink and bench for prep there was also a hatch opening to upperdeck ….in the mess there was a fold down table and a beer fridge this also was for food...…….
You walked a couple of steps aft up a ladder into the bridge pretty basic a chart table an old radar a seat and secondary steering position...……..up to steps to the flying bridge another chart table something to sit on whilst steering the boat great on a good day but in shit weather...…..something else...…..below the flying bridge was the engine room a couple of foden sixes there was a header tank up fwd that you need to pump up diesel once a watch to keep things going....there was also an "Icky" generator this was a one cylinder engine and what a noisey thing it was caused us more problems when we anchored in a quiet bay or cove this thing would echo around the valleys complaints...……….outta the E/R you went to the aft sect where the S/Rates lived outside the cabin was the Radio Shack and then the Bosses Cabin was aft of these 2 bunks incase we had a guest...…….
We worked one in six as the cook...…...or duty and did 2 hour trix's on the wheel if at sea...…...
We were or the Boss was given about $2000 a month to feed us...……...however we used to trade with locals etc for food....we were after all Fishery Patrol so fisherman were good eggs in those days so generally fish wasn't a problem Cray pots needed checking so one or two of them fall out of the pots...…….sooooo whatever was left over money wise was spit 9 ways no receipts required in those days...……....
These boats had no showers so we wouldn't generally spend more than a couple of days at sea ….we would go into port and shower in Police Station ,Hotels or military bases.....we did have the odd Boss who thought he would keep us a sea for a week ….but that never really worked for him.....

Once we left DNB the Rig of the Day was Pirate Rig unless we went to Wellingtown……...Squirt was issued maybe once a fortnight....so we always had something to trade with beer 10 cents a can...…….all in all a great draft a law unto ourselves and some great times...……...above all real good close crews...……


Paea (ZMSS)
(Crest is Broadbill Swordfish)

at Whangarei 2017

Madden Lewis - builder

Sausilito  Location

Q1184  and P3552

Refitted and actively sailed by Keith and Heather  (as at 2018)

On the dates early March 2018, the two restored  SDML Paea and Kuparu were in Whangarei, the first time I am guessing for over 30 years.  Both vessels are lovingly restored and an active museum(s).

The greatest event at Whangarei was the accompaniment with HMNZS Hawea, an Inshore Patrol Vessel of the modern navy.

2 images of Paea taken in September 2023 after extensive refit conducted by new owner/skipper Roger Reeves (ex RNZN)

From Roger:-  HDML PAEA P3552 ready for relaunch, after an extensive refit.

Now a pleasure boat, with original engines and gearboxes removed and Italian engines fitted, she has been fully fiber-glassed.
But she does look smart, and has very quiet engines.

It is heartening to see some of the old Motor Launches refurbished and have their life extended.

Paea as Q1184 August 1944

Waitemata Hbr

Paea in Survey livery Mid to late 70's (possibly Auckland)

Paea with USS Texas in Auckland 1983.
Needing some rank's, names, event. (Taken pre-1963)

Rear L - R   Far Left ?? Near Left ?? Centre PO?? Near Right ??  Far Right ATO(??) Andy Edwards

Front L-R  Far Left ??,  Near  Left S/Lt Algie Walton (TBC)??, Near Right PO??, Far Right ??

Commander Gavin Wright on HDML Paea (Unknown locality and no Years in offing. (Image supplied by Mark Maguire)

HMNZS Paea Bridge in roughers.
(Image supplied by Mark Maguire)

HMNZS Paea moored at Mansion House Bay with HMNZS Parore 1974 (Courtesy Norm Morgan)

Click here for video of Paea - 2010.

Got these photos from another site. Frank Lomas posted. MLs in the Hokianga Harbour (By HDML Paea current owner)

Paea in Hauraki Gulf 1982.

Kuparu, Paea and Kahawai
Wellington 1980



These  images are probably the only existing images of Q1186 (top left). The ML to right (Tarapunga Q1187) is inboard of  Q1184 (Paea).  All three ML's alongside HMNZS Philomel. Images from 1943 - 1945.

Madden Lewis - builder

Sausilito - Location

Sold by Navy in 1946.

Sold to Sydney then to Fiji
Possible name is Wings Afloat

Edited to add from Ian Rose (18/3/2018):

Ian Rose Interesting Q1186 possible never had a P number she was cannibalised for spare parts in 1947- 48 Hull was sold 1948 for 660 pounds to J B Jobling Auckland who rebuilt her as private launch and named Wings Afloat he resold her in 1956 to the old Coast Guard and renamed Stratus resold again 1958 then did a runner to Sydney as Wings Afloat unknown since 1970.

From the Auckland Coastguard website (found 19/3.2018)

Stratus (Cutter No. 1) (ex-WingsAfloat, ex-MLQ1186) Photograph page 65 Another vessel that started life as a 72-foot HDML, she was built in San Francisco and purchased by Coastguard probably in late 1956 from a Mr C. V. Jobling who had bought her from the Navy in 1948 as a gutted hull without engines. Jobling had substantially altered her appearance with the fitting of a large deckhouse. She was found to have significant dry rot. The necessary repairs, which also involved restoring the wheelhouse to near original appearance, cost the Coastguard dearly. Although she ran successfully for a time, lifting the Coastguard image and providing some good training for many Coastguards who are still involved in boating, her running costs - she had two Chrysler Crown 8-cylinder petrol motors — crippled the Service. Sold in 1960-1961 for financial reasons, her value on the books was then about £2200. She is still afloat in Australia and was last reported in Brisbane in 1993. 


Takapu   (ZMDU)
(Crest is Gannet)

at Milford Sound
(as at July 2018 still For Sale)

Madden Lewis - builder

Sausilito  Location

Q1188  and P3556

From Geoff Haskins (former CO Takapu)

Here's a picture, from the past (about 1957 - research suggests 1955 to 1958 when she was bearing the revised Pennant P3556A), Takapu at the tide gauge site at the entrance to Manukau (Paratutae Island). My signet ring is on the seabed there

Click Here for Survey ML's write up (TP,TK,Paea)

The image below is about 2016 in the Fiordland Sounds as charter boat.
Scott Perry visited Takapu in Riverton (13/7/20)  She (at this date) is still for sale down from $675k to $200k and out of survey.  She is fully kitted out as a Diving Charter.

Departing DNB between 1968 -1975ish

Click on Link below for video.

Takapu and USS Longbeach in Auckland 1976.

Two Takapu's

Two shots of Takapu in survey mode.  Date and location not known.

The very last HDML Crew of TK (1979)  Back Row:  POAHS Terry Ashdown, AHA Thane "Zaps" Zander,  AEL(??) "Greg's" Gregory, POME Pete Jensen (very nice guy) and ME1 Graeme "Raisins" Rae.  Front Row, ABS Maurice "Harty" Hartshorne,  AHA "Hewie" Hewitt (TBC) and CO Lt Larry Robbins.
HMNZS Takapu - Arid Cove Rakitu Island (GBI) 1979

The above image was taken at the Panmure Basin.
 Found by Lyall Cowan 2022

Tarapunga (ZMTA)

(Crest is a Red Billed Gull)

Sadly burned and sunk in Marlborough Sounds 2015

Everett-Pacific  Boatbuilder
Everett Location

Q1187 and P3566  

From Stephen Jolly.

Have some photos of Tarapunga beached in Kawhia after damaging the propeller rudder and the right shaft while surveying off Albatross Point North Taranaki We were doing inshore work while Lachlan did the outer limits Spent 4 days alongside while the parts went to Auckland to be repaired and returned to us It was quicker doing it this way instead of going back to Auckland

Tarapunga arriving Waitemata Harbour on Decommissioning June 1979.

TP exiting Waitemata Harbour in Summer between 1968 and 1979  (Courtesy Navy Museum)

Tarapunga burning and sinking Marlborough Sounds 2015

Image from 2002 in Marlborough Sounds. (Photo from Here Click here)

Tarapunga in roughers taken by Tony Marsden (EM(1)) from Mako.

Tarapunga decommissioned from Survey Fleet and renamed HMNZS Mako II (with same Pennant Number) as explained in this article on TP/TK

Takapu and Tarapunga dressed ship.

This image below celebrates the first and only time both ML's rafted up with Monowai, in Whangarei 1979.  ML's were undertaking Great Barrier Island East coast survey and Monowai was in on R&R from BOP survey.

Both HMNZS Takapu and Tarapunga dressed ship for ML's 35th Birthday celebration 1978 at Port Fitzroy GBI.

Takapu and Tarapunga med moored in Dusky Sound taking on Fresh Water from a waterfall 1973 - Photos supplied by Former Commander Ken Robertson (he was CO here on TP.)

 Images immediately above and below here of TP  exiting Waitemata Harbour  1974 also supplied by her then CO Cdr Robertson.The crew are Focsle L-R ABS Howe, ABSR Tom Paterson, ?? Robinson.  Bridge Lt Ken Robertson, POSR Grahame Wiblin and POME Waka Nathan.  No name for the AX sailor.

Ra Kawha (aka Dutchy Van Kempen) in his image as Left Hand Angle - Everyone on ML's had a tan.

From Trev Gray - I was on Tarapunga when we surveyed Timaru approaches,and we  somehow came into our possession some export prime lamb, that we didn’t think was fair for the best meat to be going to England so we had this meat stowed in every nook and cranny we could find. The ironic part was we had a Pommy skipper, and he told the coxswain that the meat had too much gristle and we should change the butcher.If he only knew. Then off to survey approaches etc at Oamaru. Every fourth day I stayed ashore and read the tide gauge on the wharf, so I would get a job on the wharf. I got five pound a day which is what the Navy paid me for a week.

Two Survey ML's in 1966/67 at Rawene Wharf - Hokianga Harbour.
A TP dit from my archive

An SML (Tarapunga) ditty(and like all goods dits, based on fract. We were surveying the Manukau Bar In 1977 with TP and TK. We used to anchor off Cornwallis Jetty at night after each days work. I was duty hand and had to get up at 0315 to take the weather sched. Everyone else were soundoes (imbibement). At 0215 or thereabouts I was woken up with the vessel rocking mildly. I felt something wasn't quite right so went on the bridge to see if the wind had picked up. Nope! Checked the cable and it all seemed right. The swell coming from the Bar was the cause of the rocking. I woke the CO (Lt John Stokes) and briefed him on the situation He woke the Cocn on the way up. We couldn't see any street lights at Cornwallis (and no sign of TK who had anchored next to us).and got the Aldis out and scanned the foreshore. Nothing. Turned out we had dragged anchor (about 5 miles and in deeper water than anchorage) with the tide change.and were heading out to sea.

This from former ML skipper Ken Robertson (Commander Rtd and resident in Whitianga with wife Bronwyn) on his ML time:

The ML blog is a fascinating history of the boats. Apart from that brief trip south with Maroro, I drove Mako from Dec 68 – Jun 69 (she was one with those infamous Foden 12 engines that drank diesel like it was going out of fashion for about an extra knot of speed!) and TARAPUNGA from Apr 73 – Jan 75 – most of my time in TP was spent surveying from Doubtless Bay South to the Bay of Islands. A wonderful bit of coast to work on. I recall my SR’s were Bob Eaton and then Tom Paterson (Tom and I coast lined the whole of Takou Bay while the crew went swimming, diving and fishing for 2 or 3 days!). I heard that Tom is now inland in Taumaranui? I think Bob left the RNZN early on from LN and headed off to the UK.

We also spent about two months in Dusky/ Breaksea Sounds and Doubtless Sounds wire sweeping clear passages for the cruise liners to use. The late Gil George was my boss in TK. TK was built of heart Oregon and about 6 tonnes heavier than TP and drew about 6 more inches, so she always went aground on the shoals in the bays before TP did and we usually got an early wake up call and had to pull her off. Don’t go to Fiordland in the spring months as it rains non stop every day but I have some great memories of night time camp fires ashore with a bucket of diesel to get the fire going with wet wood and a couple of cases of beer, someone on a guitar, all of us huddled around in our leaky old oilskins trying to have a sing song! We ran out of food but not beer and lived on army ration packs and blue cod for a week.
 HMNZS Tarapunga exiting Port Fitzroy through Man o War Passage.
 HMNZS Tarapunga alongside PC Barge on Decommissioning

A rare photo of ABS Pete Newton on helmTP.

HMNZS Tarapunga aground at Kawhia

From Stephen Jolly:-  Have some photos of Tarapunga beached in Kawhia after damaging the propeller rudder and the right shaft while surveying off Albatross Point North Taranaki We were doing inshore work while Lachlan did the outer limits Spent 4 days alongside while the parts went to Auckland to be repaired and returned to us It was quicker doing it this way instead of going back to Auckland


Alert (ZMRS)

Sold 1946
Sea Cadets and Deer Recovery 

now at Kopu for refitting.  As of 14/10/2018 owned by Linus Fleming.

Everett-Pacific  Boatbuilder

Everett Location

(Q1189) just need a P number

Found today (28/4/2018) in WWII configuration.

Added following three images of Alert in 1949 (Courtesy Linus Fleming - owner of Alert from 2016)
Following 3 images from this website (found on Google)

Members of the Chatham Islands 1954 Expedition on the aft deck of MV Alert on their return to Lyttelton, 12 February 1954. John Yaldwyn wearing his spare pair of glasses at lower left. Others approximately left to right are Jock Moreland (cut off), John McIntyre (with pipe), Ray Forster, Daphne Marshall, Betty Batham, Dave Garner, Alex Black (captain, seated), Dick Dell, George Knox and Elliot Dawson. Image: Te Papa MA_B.023472

Dick Dell (holding cup) and other members of the Chatham Islands expedition in the saloon of the Alert, February 1954. Others recognisable from left are Dave Garner, John Yaldwyn (in stairwell), Elliot Dawson and Ray Forster, with Stephen Barker (from Wharekauri, Chatham Island) in right foreground. Image: Te Papa (MA_B023471)
MV Alert alongside in Wellington pre Chatham Island Expedition 1954.

Alert anchored off Sisters Islets in Chathams 1954(Chatham Islands Expedition)

Following are Caswell Sound Exped 1949.
Above - At Bluff 1949 loading stores for Caswell Expedition. (NZ/American Exped to Fiordland on Alert)
Above image is Alert Skipper (Left) A.J. Black with John Howard (holding camera) 1949.

Supplies unloaded on Caswell Sound Beach, with MV Alert at anchor, January 1949,  Note the superstructure, not modified at this stage (post 1951??)

Excerpt from 27th Sea Scout Newsletter. 

"The Dominion Commissioner for Sea Scouts was Mr. Alex Black of Dunedin. He owned an ex-naval fairmile class launch by the name of “M.V.Alert”. This was brought to a number of these Dominion Regattas and often used to control the racing events. Early Sea Scouting has a lot to thank him for. Between each National Regatta he would visit all the Sea Scout Troops (32 in 1945) with “Alert” and invite some of the older boys aboard for some training. Some even accompanied him on his trips. He also issued a small newsletter called Keelson, which went to every Sea Scout in the country to bring them up to date with Sea Scout matters. He believed in commonsense "

This above image of Alert (Q1189) is from between 1957 - 1965ish at the Tank Farm wharf (ferries bedtime place) in Auckland (new Bridge motorway behind.) If you have any further material or info on the berth for Alert especially Auckland before going to Dunedin it would be greatly appreciated.

Added to say "Have two people saying Alert and two saying Aotearoa with two saying not an ML.  I will leave this for further comment."

I have been following a section of Woody's Wooden Boats based on the above photo. Click on this link   to go to that thread.

Another post from Woody's Wooden Boats:

I remember the ‘Alert ‘ motoring up and down the Tamaki Estuary in the late 60s. I think she may have lived up at Panmure at that stage. One time she was returning at night and tried to take a short-cut across the middle of the sand bar at Bucklands Beach (never understood why, as she’d been up a number of times that I had seen in the day time, and was I thought A Sea Scout/cadet training vessel at that time) with predictable results. They spent about an hour or so wriggling her off (they were lucky the tide was on the way in) and decided that following the channel was a good idea. Didn’t see her again from early 70s.
She was apparently converted for oceanographic work while in Dunedin in the 50s and was the only one I knew of with a house on top. Looks a bit different today (in Wellington I believe)
Regarding the comment on the ferries,- I have a number of small bowls etc I turned from a Kauri deck support post I scrounged from the guys who were cutting the ferries up with chainsaws, so they could be buried.

Lyttelton 2017 Courtesy Bryan Shankland 

Waitemata Hbr 2018 Photo Courtesy of Scott Perry.


Olphert and Parore. (ZMST) 

(Crest is a Parore Fish)

 Everett-Pacific  Boatbuilder
Everett Location

Decommisioned 1979 then to Evans Bay then Nelson 2008 then Shakespeare Bay , Picton.

Parore berthed  maybe in the Marlborough Sounds probably dated pre 2008

Q1190 and P3562
                                                    In Shakespeare Bay Marlborough Sounds (circa 2015 ish)


Pickersgill Harbour - Dusky Sound Wednesday 21 March 1973 200 years after HMS RESOLUTION

HMNZS Parore at Te Mahia Bay Marlborough Sounds. (Courteous of Dennis Minnoch)
Following three images donated by Steve Mullins.Parore in Cook Strait.
Parore returning to Wellington (Cook Strait)

Parore Marlborough Sounds
Next four images of Parore slipping in Dockyard Synchrolift 1974 (a fifth image can be found in the Boatshop section towards the end of the blog) All courtesy Norm Morgan.

The following images are from Norm Morgan and retired COMAUCK Commodore Alan Peck.
Hands to Bathe (location to be confirmed)

 Slipping at Boatshop Synchrolift (above/below)

As at  14/10/2018 Parore has changed owners. Her condition is very poor but work is happening.  I will announce the new owner when he is ready for that to happen.

HDML Parore Keneperu Sound 2020. Now owned by Tachyon Hutt' 18 years old from Marlborough Sounds.  Click Here for News item

HDML Parore on slip in Shelley Bay 1990. Donated by Greg Philpott.
Kia ora team,I have just received 10 photo's and 2 videos from Tachyon Michael Hutt, owner of Parore.  In Tachyon's words:-

Hey man, Tachyon Micheal Hutt here, I am 21 years old and have just reclaimed Parore after losing her for 3 years due to family matters, these photos are taken by Kelvin Reiher my good mate who has been helping me save Parore.

And 2 videos.  Love the throb of a couple of Fodens.


Tamure  (ZMSX)

There was never a crest issued to Tamure.  There is very little information on the Name "Tamure"  except the reference to the following website for Ngati Toa school (Tamure is a Tohunga or High Priest.)

Added 6th October 2018 - Tamure is Maori for Snapper. Courtesy of Geoff Brebner.

Tamure reference - click here.

HMS Viti then back to RNZN as Ngapona II then back as Tamure..

Grays Harbour  Boatbuilder
Aberdeen  WA  Location

Q1193 and P3555

Anchored Greenhithe as at 2018

(Above)  Tamure in her heyday, 1980's.

(Above) Tamure in 2002 in Auckland. (Photo from Here - Click Here)

Tamure P3555 alongside in Wellington (Queens Wharf??)

Big thank you to Russell Walsh for sending in this great photo. He said .. It shows the Naval Reserve launch HMNZS 'Tamure' in Wellington and was taken by a friend of mine, Tony Skilton in 1969. Tony and I spent some time on her and others of her kind. Many of the buildings in the background are still there today. The launch in the bottom right is the original Lady Elizabeth.

Following two images donated by Steve Mullins.

Tamure at Picton

Tamure at Picton.
Olphert & Territorials in Marlborough Sounds, end of 1969 - seem to recall might have been on Maud Island. All armed with M-16s - quite a few punga trees got felled that day! And we definitely had a full crew on P.3555 Tamure crossing Cook Strait too! Sorry about photo quality - looks like a double exposure. Doesn't happen these days.

Tamure steaming outside Port of Taranaki March/April - from an article by the local newspaper.  Below is the two images, one the write up and the other the staged steaming shot. Courtesy Russ Levy.  His blurb tells a common story for coastal HDML/SML vessels.

Russ Levy Tamure sailing into New Plymouth about Mar/Apr 69. We had already tied up alongside when a reporter for the Taranaki Newspaper turned up and wanted a photo. So we sailed out again, dropped him and one of the crew over the side in the dingy for the photo. Lost about a hours drinking time ashore that night because of this. Me right up the Bow (Sharp End

This model was completed recently by Greg Casey.  Very very good model.

HMNZS Tamure and other ML.  Possibly Port NIcholson or Lyttelton.

Maurice Sharp posted this in Faceebook.  Manga and Tamure at Gisborne.


Koura   (ZMTB)
(Crest is a Crayfish or Lobster)

on the hard near Kopu

Ackerman BW Boatbuilder

Newport Beach Florida Location

Q1350 and P3564

Koura in Otago Harbour 1954 with whalers being pulled and a P51 Mustang low flyover.

                                           HMNZS Koura at Mansion House Bay Kawau Island.

HMNZS Koura Q1350

HMNZS Koura - Tank Farm - Waitemata Harbour Auckland circa 1967

Koura at Kopu, Thames circa 2005

                                                 Possibly early 1950's

Following two images donated by Steve Mullins.

Koura Bridge VR ML transiting Cook Strait. Donated by Tony Skilton.
Left is Julian Lillico and Tony Skilton (on Helm) with Unknown right.

Koura transiting Cook Strait from Wellington.

Former SDML (RNZN) HMNZS Koura in private hands and refitted at Babcock February 2000 (probably the last time an ML refitted in the Boatshop.)
Former HDML/SDML HMNZS Koura at Kopu 1st September 2018 (Courtesy Dale Bradly)

HMNZS Koura (known as HMNZS Toroa)  in Port Otago 1966 - Courtesy of Russell Ward.

Kuparu   (ZMSZ)
(Crest is John Dory fish)

Newport Beach Florida Location

Q1348 and P3563

State of vessel pre refit

HMNZS Kuparu as HNNZS Pegasus late 50's early 60's at Port Levy.  Donated by Simon Reeve.

HMNZS Kuparu 1967

Kuparu possibly Picton (no date) Donated by Graham Allcock

Kuparu Wellington Drydock (date unknown) Donated by Graham Allcock

Inverell and Kuparu Picton (all dressed ship) Donated by Graham Allcock

Kuparu alongside Wellington berth - date unknown.

At DNB - was targeted to be a Museum vessel at RNZN Museum TBY

Following post refit.

Kuparu in roughers.

This most recent image of Kuparu at Whangarei 6th March 2018.
This photo was in amongst many Kuparu photos so probably Kuparu crew on the Beers.  Looks like a Black Boat.  Can you identify anyone or location - if so email me at zappydodah@hotmail.com. Donated by Graham Allcock.

Just received some valuable information from Roy Quinn (as follows)

Back Row: O/Sea. Tony Skilton, L/Sea. Roy Quinn, L/Sea. Martyn Robey, O/Sea. James McMullen, LT. Julian Lillico,

Lt Cmdr (E) Graham Alecock.

Front Row: A/B. John McDonald, A/B. Brian Cashmore, LT. Rob Martin

Taken on the weekend 4-7 June 1971

Friday: Sailed from Wellington through Cook Strait round Stephens Island to Anchor of Post Office Point, Port Hardy, D’urville Island.

Saturday: Mooched around Port Hardy, Anchored Fresh Water Bay, carried Out Distress Flare practice. Around noon sailed through Stephens Passage for Havelock in Pelorous Sound.

Sunday: Sailed Haveloch for Queen Charlotte Sound. On exiting Havelock, Kuparu grounded on a shallow sandspit. Moving all crew aft and reversing engines failed to move Kuparu. Fortunately, Mr Guard in the Rotonui was coming out of Havelock shortly afterwards, he managed to tow Kuparu of sternwards. Then proceeded to Queen Charlotte Sound

Monday: Weather not very nice, sailed about 0830 for Wellington. At one stage of the passage recorded 15.2 mile steamed in one hour.

Over the weekend miles steamed about 225 miles, 23 hours underway

Click on Here for Kuparu Hauraki Gulf video.

Photo of Kuparu crew fishing in the Marlborough Sounds in 1972. Photo courtesy of Tony Skilton. 

Click here for Kuparu video from Paea Whangarei Heads 6/1/2019.

Click on here for the Navy Today article on our Scott - the Kuparu Story.(Page22) Condolences for his wife.

Kuparu escort for Hawea Cup Racing on Waitemata Harbour.

Kuparu leading 2 ML's. Unknown date or ML's. Abreast North Head heading out from DNB.


Haku (ZMRC)

(Crest is a Kingfish)

Click on following three links for ML recollections.

These are a collection of memories from Able Radio Operator David Wistrand of his time on HMNZS HAKU P3565.

Click Here for Tamaki Tram story

Click here for Black Watch story.

Tamaki Tram

Renamed Black Watch

now anchored off Herald Island Auckland

Ackerman BW Boatbuilder

Newport Beach Florida Location

Q1349 and P3565

Haku approaching ML Pontoon 1972 (HMNZS Taranaki astern)

Haku at Pigeon Bay, Banks Peninsula with Army.
From Dave Auton:-
HMNZS Haku when attached to Pegasus carrying out an armed training exercise in Pigeon Bay
Some of Pegasus old salts will recognise a younger version of them selves
Dave Bool on the bridge, Bob Andrews on the stern sheets of the whaler with Allan Ward, PK in charge of the motive power,
Your truly (with blackened face) in the bow

Currently up for sale.(as at 2018) Asking $30,000.

Greenhithe mooring

Berthed circa 2018

Lyttelton Harbour

Haku (aka Black Watch) sunk on her mooring Waitemata Harbour (Photo from Owner Scott Perry, August 2018)
and on the hard.

After 75 years serving her country and private ownership Black Watch (aka Haku) was condemned by the Auckland Harbour Master this August gone and was destroyed and crushed.  Unfortunately no one was forthcoming with money to save her.

RIP Haku!!

From John Granville CO Haku. 1970/71. 

Left - POME Gil Pickens (Stoker), centre S/Lt John Granville (CO), POS Dave Hollis (Coxn)


Kahawai  (ZMSV)
(Crest is a Kahawai or Sea Trout)

Grays Harbour  Boatbuilder

Aberdeen  WA  Location

Q1191  and P3553

Originally Takapu (hence her Pennant Number)

Broken up and burned to the hull at 1998.

Following 8 images donated by Wayner Jenkins ex Kahawai sailor (in photo below taken at Russell).

Kahawai crew - 1970 - L-R - ???,  Mac McMillan, S/Lt John Clark, Blue Cranston,  Snow Morris, Wayne Jenkins (hatch)
Kahawai escorting Brittannia March 1970 passing A Buoy
FFV Boarding from Kahawai circa 1969/70
Kahawai crossing the Wairoa Bar  going in with Maroro and Haku.  This was accompanying event to the Famous Haku broaching set of 3 images.
Kahawai in company with Haku and Maroro crews for Wairoa celebrations.  L-R :- Jock Smith, Huey Hewitt, Mac McMillan and Blue Cranston.


Manga  (ZMBJ)
(Crest is Barracouta)

Unknown location and date
                                         Entering Waitemata Harbour (Date unknown)

News Item of Manga in Nelson. (Date unknown) 

  From Dennis Minnoch (Commendation for Wahine duties for Manga Crew.)

HMNZS Manga on the ML Pontoon 1966.  (Photo courtesy Frank Lewis)

Madden Lewis - builder

Sausilito  Location

What is a blog if there isn't a hint of Foden roar and diesel smell.
Manga's E/R

From Trev Gray and states he is open to being corrected.

 in the 50s only used to be Paea and Mako used for Fishery patrol throughout NZ coastline. Either late 50s or early 60s the Manga was commissioned as an additional patrol vessel to join Paea and Mako. It was about this time or maybe a year or two earlier that someone in higher authority ,ordered that Paea and Mako be fitted with Foden 12 cylinder engines. Goodness knows why, Manga still had the 165 hp Gray Marine engines,totally reliable, as fitted in the “Tamaki Trams”
Manga was just as quick as the other two.,as we often had races,unknown to the skipper.
The Fodens were like two sixes joined together ,were synchronised and had a belt that periodically broke. Maybe Trevor Wylde could elaborate on that. I am pretty sure Manga was repossessed from army,was the bombardier,or voluntarily returned. The Gray Marine as known was the fore runner to the G.M.180 hp.
Was super charged as against turbo charged.six cylinder inline. Later came the v53 series,that is 6 cylinder V/6,I think was around 220 hp and the V/8 GM. Only problem with the GM is they are two stroke and very noisy.
All this is by memory and I am quite happy to be corrected.Time can sometimes play tricks with memory.

(Q1185 and P3567) last known whereabouts is 1987 at Helensville

HMNZS Manga crew shot 1962 (crew names to follow)
Left Rear Coxn  Stan Harper.

HMNZS Manga in Boatshop for hull repairs.
Accompanying Blurb to this photo:
"On 18 June 1965 HMNZS Manga was in a collision with the Devonport ferry Makora. Badly holed on the starboard side forward, she was able to be slipped and repaired."

Two images Haimona post 1981.

Click on this text for a Woody's Wooden Boats article of Manga
HMNZS Ngapona I (P3561) and II (P3555)

(Crest is a Kaka or native Parrot)

Grays Harbour  Boatbuilder

Aberdeen  WA  Location

Q1194 and P3561

Broken up

Q1194 at Navy Open Day 1944 at HMNZS Philomel

Provided by Russel Ward -  "This one didn't make it, Matu! P3561. The only ML destroyed by the Navy (and they tried hard) and it wasn't because of the grounding November 1957, it was the tow home from Te Kouma by Stawell that scuppered her. Sad."

HMNZS Maroro  (ZMSW)
(Crest is a Flying Fish)

Grays Harbour  Boatbuilder

Aberdeen  WA  Location

Q1192 and P3554

Wrecked Fiji.

HMNZS Irirangi then HMNZS Maroro.  Click here for story.

Received from Tony Bullock  his story and three images. (3/12/2018)

Recently found your blog on MLs - what a fascinating collection of info you have.

My father, Lt Hastings Bullock, served in MLs in Kenya in 1942-43 then came back to Wellington in early 1944 as CO of 1189 & 1192 and Senior Officer 125th Flotilla.   He took the flotilla to Auckland in Sep 45 to pay off - under your entry for Maroro there is a photo of 1192 & 1193 in Gisborne on their way north.

The attachments might  be of interest.  All are in Wellington or the Sounds.  Its a shame that the pic of 1189 is blurred.

I have a fondness for MLs, having spent a couple of months in Manga in 1966 as a Midshipman (CO was S/Lt Peter Thompson), and I drove Mako for a short
period in Nov 1972 while her CO was on leave.  I always regret that as a Supply Officer my career kept me away from further time in the boats!

Added 4/12/2018 from Tony Bullock - his Fathers full service record.

From me:  Did your father stay on in RNZN after end of war?

 No.  He left in Dec 45 and went back to his accounting job.  I know there were times in later years where he felt he should have stayed.

Dad was a Scheme B entry, leaving NZ in Oct 1940.  After training at Ganges, he was posted to the Flower Class corvette Gardenia, serving in her between Apr 41 and Apr 42.  He then went to the officer training establishment King Alfred and passed out as a Sub Lt in July 42.  After coastal forces training he went to HMS Tana in Mombasa, where he was CO of HDML 1105 and then 1107.  He came home on leave  late 1943 only to find that there was no intention of sending him or his compatriots back - much to his disgust.   He was posted as CO 1189 and  senior officer 125th Flotilla in July 44, then CO 1192 in June 45. 

Dad's brother, Lloyd, went to the UK with him but was commissioned earlier (due to a mix-up of the brothers' names!) and went to serve in MGBs on the east coast and the Chanel.

1967 crew from Patrick John Coghlan "I had a short stint on "Maroro" in 1967. I was an EM1. I was replaced by EM1 Win Atkins. The skipper was Lt. George Cole, Coxswain - P.O. Lofty Kenyon, P.O.M.E. McPherson, AB G.A. Smith, AB Johnny Porritt, ME1 Russell Lean, ME1 Huk Hooper, ARD Fronty McKenzie. "

The Images:

Q1192 in full WWII Livery - both 1944 and found by John Mills when sorting his Father's photo's  Both ML's images are of HMNZS Maroro.

Location unknown - dated between 1945 - 1950 WWII fit removed  and still gray.

Tamure and Maroro. Tony Bullock identified this photo as in Gisborne on their way north to Auckland 15th September 1945.

Q1192 Crew (L-R)  Turner, McGone, Simpson, Butcher, Honeybone, Bullock (CO), Carpenter, McGregor, Warner, Johnston (in hatch).

Q1193 Crew is cited as "Len Walton and Crew"

From Ian Rose - "I was last on Maroro in October 1964 and can only remember being tied up there (Town Wharf) in March 1965.

Two "found" photos of 5 ML's alongside in Nelson.  Visible are Parore and Kuparu.  Dated 4th February 1961

The Nelson Mail text accompanying the photos.

"Five RNZNVR HDML's visited Nelson from exercises in the Nelson and Marlborough Sounds areas." 

HMNZS Maroro P3554 1965

HMNZS Maroro in Wellington on patrol 1944. (Courtesy of Geoff Brebner)

(Below) HMNZS Maroro doing 13 knots through French Pass 1964/65 (Photo courtesy Dennis Clayton)

Another from Denis Clayton.

Six new images from Dennis Clayton.

Three images donated by Dennis Clayton - onboard HMNZS Maroro and up the Wairau River (Blenheim) The  Maroro is up the River in January 1966

Skipper (L) Lt Bob Eckford,  Mid Ken Robertson and Coxn Lofty Kenyon on Helm.

Following donated also by Dennis Clayon.

Pat Huxtable and self, Auckland Star photo Aug_Sep 65. We caught Jap boat out of Onehunga, and we went in to harbour to show orf. Skipper was Lt Cmd Davis

Just before Christmas 65 in Gisborne, George Belton, Self, Graham Ellis,Terry Norris nd Pat Huxtable. Photo by Gis. Herald Photographer

Maroro Crew.

Maroro underway.

Maroro alongside (data coming)

Donated by Greg Philpott this newspaper clipping


Pakatoa aka Aotearoa

Ackerman BW Boatbuilder

Newport Beach Florida Location

Q1351 and no P Number


Yes She is the PAKATOA, an ex HDML Q1351, once demobbed (1946) she was a ferry between Mount Maunganui and Tauranga as AOTEAROA (from 1951). In 1965 she was sold to Kerridge who operated her on the Pakatoa service in conjunction with the hydrofoil. She became part of the Dromgoole Empire about 1969 but was laid up at the yard (Whenupai area) where this couple of photos were taken (from about 1974.)

 First photo is Aotearoa at either Auckland or Mount Maunganui

Second photo is of Aotearoa on Tauranga Harbour (Rail bridge in view.)  Both photo's courtesy of HDML Paea's Heather Nicholson.

HDML Pakatoa.She still exists albiet in a sad condition after being damaged by fire. She is at Matakohe, on the Kaipara Harbour,north of Auckland. 

I have received (through Scott Perry) photo's of Pakatoa from the 50's or 60's. Story to follow.

Latest (27/1/2020 ) from Woody's Wooden Boats. HIstory of Pakatoa/Aotearoa.

Well, here goes on my 2nd 50 cents worth.Did a bit of searching over the afternoon Q1351 was sold in 1950 to Faulkner Ferries of Tauranga and fitted out as the ferry AOTEAROA for their service to Mt Maunganui.She was sold in 1965 to R J Kerridge to service their holiday resort on Pakatoa Island.She was renamed Pakatoa. After she was replaced by the hydrofoil Manuwai then latterly the larger Te Kotuku. she was laid up for quite awhile alongside the derelict ferries in St Mary’s Bay before being sold. Two things that harden my resolve are : Different styled wheelhouse (I found a pic of her at Tauranga,wheelhouse same as in the pic at Auckland .Alert’s wheelhouse different profile, although could admit to the possibility of it been altered.at some time)
(2) Forward portholes : Pakatoa has 4, Alert has 5. (The spacing varied between builders)
Pity no ports visible in Ak pic.i And I have visited and paid my respects to her ( Alert)at Kopu.

Manga broken up for parts near Helensville.

Which leaves by my tally one unaccounted for, I have Q1186 needing a name or P Number  someone will know.


HMNZ Dockyard Boatshop and slipway (before Babcock and toward the end of slipping ML's - out of service) Two ML's could slip at once indoors.  ML's, toward the end of their lives, were regularly slipped and maintained (mainly prepping and painting hull/superstructure).

It was actually very cool task to do, gave us plenty of pride about our handiwork. The Boatshop staff were top notch.  They loved the ML's, as much as we did.  On the wall outside Mike Gerard (Boss) office were an array of ML pictures, all in various states of wear and tear.  I'd appreciate if anyone has any pictures of ML's in the Boatshop to add to this blog.

This image courtesy of Scott Perry - Kuparu in the Boashop getting reskinned.

HMNZS Kuparu in Boatshop

Koura slipping.

HMNZS Ngapona I in slipway.

HMNZS Parore slipping in 1974 on Dockyard Synchrolift. Courtesy Norm Morgan.
HMNZS Kahawai in Boatshop.  September 1969


Group photos

Paea and Mako (in Grey livery pre-black boats.) Possibly Dunedin or Lyttelton

From Left to Right, Kahawai,  Maroro,  Haku,  and Mako.

ML Pontoon aka Whitebait Corner.
Left to right. P3562 (Parore)  P3567 (Manga) P3556 (Takapu), P3566 (Tarapunga) P3563  (Kuparu)
and by logical deduction P3552  (Paea)

Another Find!!

HMNZS Paea  P3552 (L), Mako P3551 (C) and Manga P3567 (R.)

7 ML's in line astern, pre 1968.

3 ML's in line astern pre 1968 exiting Waitemata Harbour.

At Russell for Waitangi Celebrations, all used as ferries.
Left foreground The Green Parrot outboard of HMNZS Manga, with unknown RNZNVR ML inboard.  At rear unknown RNZNVR ML left, and HMNZ Ships Takapu and Tarapunga. Photograph also taken from unknown ML. (Taken pre 1968 - old White Ensign)

Latest image from Whangarei (5 March 2018)  75 year old HDML's Paea and Kuparu in company with Patrol Vessel HMNZS Hawea.

7 (maybe 8) SDML's Line Astern (1965 at Auckland)  Courtesy Ian Rose former ML stoker (was in this photo)  Skipper Dave Davies on lead ML (HMNZS Maroro) was SOFPAR.

Rockex pre 1968 Queen Charlotte Sound.

Refitted and passion of Love for their owners, Kuparu and Paea alongside in Whangarei (2018)

HDML's Paea and Mako (probably 1940's to early 1960's.)

Four Fish Boats on ROCKEX in Marlborough Sounds.  Not sure on which are which except Tamure is in foreground.

Four VR ML's on ROCKEX in Marlborough Sounds.

HMNZS Parore and HMNZS Paea Mansion House Bay Kawau Island 1974
HMNZS Parore aground.

Whitebait Corner.
Left to Right.  HMNZS Parore, HMNZS Manga, HMNZS Tarapunga, HMNZS Takapu, and either HMNZS Haku (probably) or HMNZS Tamure.

All four VR ROCKEX in Queens Charlotte Sound,


Rogues Gallery

One image of Takapu and Tarapunga on the slipway at Shelley Bay Wellies (donated by Greg Philpott)  There is evidence to suggest this was between 1950 and 1953 as both were engaged in Cook Strait survey.

These 3 photo's of HMNZS Haku crossing the Wairoa Bar.

Click here Ex PO Seaman Neville (Nails) Stapleton video on ML's and Hokitika.

Tony Marsden supplied the following 8 images from his time on Mako and features many familiar events in ML History.   Enjoy!! 

Tony's Bio:
Tony Marsden ex EM1

Joined on 26th January 1956. Ended towards the end of 1965

Tamaki (the Rock one) to Philly Electrical School & eventually to Black Prince. Then Royalist for its first Far East Cruise. We were away for 15 months.

Lachlan, then Black Prince again. Mako, &  Royalist again for a few months .Philly, Tamaki again (as Ship’s Co)

Mako, Otago & out.
L-R  Lt David Broadbent, ME (1) Ron Smith, Wildlife Ranger with Catch,(Behind Ranger AB "Woggy" Stewart, PO Fred Wingrove and AB Ron "Chook" Burly.

HMNZ Ships Haku (near) and Paea (Rear) alongside Diving Pontoon.

HMNZS Mako with HMNZS Paea line astern (exiting Waitemata Harbor pre 1968)

Mako's Peanut (Dinghy) at Bungalow Beach, White Island 1960 - 
L-R (in white T Shirt Ron Smith, Me - Tony Marsden and Ranger

Manga Crew1962/63
Back Row - L-R:  AME Barry Jenkins, POME Tosh Cooper,  EM Jim Green,  Tony Marsden,  Bob Soper
Front Row - L-R:  ???, Manu Aranga Coxn,  ???

Mako White Island (Whaakari) 1960 With Boathook Ropework is Coxn Fred Hanson, Fred Wingrove (Left rear) Ron Smith pulling the Peanut, and Two Rangers in Dinghy.

  Tagging Gannets - Ron and Fred to the right.

Parore aground Marlborough Sounds

The two boats rafted together with lack of water, are the one on left with the Rear Admirals Pennant is Maroro the other is Haku pic was taken in Dagg Sound 1964 my self (Ian Rose) and Pat Huxtable were the Stokers on Maroro.

To enhance the previous blurb:   On 15 May 1965 while in Fiordland, HMNZS Haku with CNS Rear Admiral Washbourn embarked, and HMNZS Maroro in company, anchored in Revolver Bay, Preservation Inlet. Unfortunately, the Commanding Officers had not calculated the tidal range.

Inside looking outside.  A rare inside image of our beloved ML's.

The following photo and text are from CPORS Tony Woolford (Click Here For Full Memoirs) 

Also in 1955 we were steaming in our MLP3555 to Kawau for Easter weekend training and unfortunately we hit a reef close to Motuketekete Island ripping a large hold in the bottom.  This was my only time I had to call Auckland Radio with a Mayday.  We eventually got back to PHILOMEL next day after beaching and re floating with temporary repairs accompanied by HMNZS PAEA and towed stern first by the fleet Auxiliary tug ARATAKI.  That wasn’t my only grounding.  From time to time the four Reserve Motor Launches (ML’s) would go on exercises together.  On one occasion in the Hauraki Gulf while the skippers were having a meeting on one of the other ML’s and we were anchored in Islington Bay.  I was the Radio Operator on PAEA and the fast receding tide went unnoticed until too late.  We were left high and dry only held upright by some of the ships ropes tied to Pohutukawa trees on shore.

Wake Boarding in Marlborough Sounds (except locale and years) (3 following images supplied by Mark Maguire)

Possibly Paea and Cook Strait roughers.

Brian Cashmore (RNZNVR - HMNZS Olphert) last trip onboard Kuparu onboard
Point Hardy, D'Urville Island, Cook Strait 1971. 

Left to Right:

Me (Tony Shilton), Brian Barlow, ?? (behind BB), Roy Quinn,  Martyn Robey,
Brian Cashmore, Rob Martin (CO seated), Julian Lillico (standing) Graham Alecock standing,
??? on Dinghy.  

Fwd Mess on a VR  ML (very tiddly)

ML Shoot in Marlborough Sounds - VR ML. (Note age of photo could be determined by when 303's were finished with.)

Following two images donated by Steve Mullins.

Unidentified ML in Marlborough Sounds

An unidentified ML at Anchor in Marlborough Sounds.

Gifted by Dennis Minnoch.(Before 1968 in The Sounds) Left is Russ Levy And Dennis Minnoch (R)
This image supplied by Mark Holms. And accompanying text.

Visit to Auckland by HMY Britannia 1974 with MLs, port and starboard. On
the port side was Olphert's ML before it went back south to Wellington and a
month or so later it had to be beached somewhere on the South Island because
of the pounding it took attempting to get to Waitangi after the Commonwealth
Games. Three reservists from Ngapona were on Olphert's ML it at the time,
including yours truly and also included a reservist who went on to become a
Radio New Zealand broadcaster on Tongan affairs as well as radio broadcaster
for Tongan Radio at the First Rugby World Cup in 1987. Who remembers Henry
Te'hua? Bet you ignoramuses wouldn't have known that!
Your message is ready to be sent with the following file or link

An anecdote or three.

In or around 1978, an American gentleman and his wife were staying at a waterfront Hotel in Auckland, and he was having his morning coffee when he saw the two Whiteboat ML's (Takapu and Tarapunga) leaving Devonport Naval Base heading out to Great Barrier Island.  He managed to get hold of COMAUCK who  invited him over for a chat.

Turns out this guy was one of the design team of the HDML's in the USA and he was utterly amazed to see so many of them still operating.

Trev Gray eulogising his time on ML's (CO TK our contributor Geoff Haskins)

Good morning Sir.I have to admit my utmost respect for you as a Naval Officer and was an honour to have served under you, despite the fact you nearly drowned me. You were a true Gentleman and had outstanding seamanship ability. I am not sure why you were Captain of Takapu ,there must have been a reason ,as if memory is correct you were Second in Command Lachlan.
You were required back on Lachlan as she had an unexpected task, so as Takapu and Tarapunga were surveying,roadstead, and approaches to New Plymouth you could have swapped with a junior officer you or someone decided that the MLS would go back to Auck.Only problem was the Overnight ferries Well to ChCh were cancelled due to rough weather.So Naval Command Wellington would not give permission to travel to Auck via Well, but if we went north up the West coast to Auck we were under Auck command. So off we go,I was a very junior Stoker on Tarapunga. We just followed you, only problem was we didn’t see you very often,scariest part was the night we would just see your stern light now and then.We were like 20 mins on the wheel and had to use all our strength to stop the vessel from broaching. Portholes under water as we slid down the waves sideways.the sea was on our beam.This is where my praise comes in.Back then there were no electronic aids,GPS etc. etc.Navigation was dead reckoning ,Sexton,and a manual type echo sounder.There were some seabanks we had to avoid, no shelter we could enter ,we just had to tough it out.Eventuall we saw North Cape and once rounded it and in calm water, all our bedding, clothing etc was hung out to dry.We then were able to light up the stove and have a meal. For Two days and nights we sat with our back to the chart table and feet against the wheelhouse side, Not sure how I got down into the engine room to pump up the fuel gravity tanks. Your navigational skills under duress would have to be admired to the highest degree. Thanks to you after leaving the Navy I was accepted into Auckland Navigational School (not correct term) and awarded a launchmasters certificate and command my own launch ,doing Big Game FishingCharters of which we still hold Club records. Thank you Sir.

Maintenance tips.

As the Survey ML's were white, the exhaust from the outlet and aft from the exhaust would stain the paint.  It was a helpful proceedure to clean the hull (fresh water) and coat it in Neopol furniture polish.  Very helpful tip.

History of HDML builders in USA. 

First is Madden Lewis, Sausalito - Click Here 

Second is Everritt-Pacific of Everritt - click here

Third is Grays Harbour, Aberdeen WA - Click here

Last is Ackerman BW - Newport Beach, Florida - no longer exists and no historical records..


Geoffrey Haskins Spent a great hour browsing your list. I would like to emphasize how important our work was to the NZ economy during my year (1955-65). Opening up Opua after years of inactivity, the Cook Strait Power Cable route selection, Marsden Point Oil Refinery, approaches, berthing area and "as builts"; a new whaling station on Great Barrier Island (Tryphena?) which lasted all of two years (how non-PC is that?); and the Lake Manapouri project. I suddenly remembered the call-sign ZMDU, all comms were with the PO radio stations. And the painted metal life-size cut-out takapu on the masthead - which was torn to pieces by an angry flock of real takapus off Mahurangi who took against the intruder.

Geoffrey “Geoff” Haskins is a former Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy Survey Officer (with RNZN 1955 to 1965.) His most cherished memory here was serving as CO Takapu. Geoff is 92 years young.

Thane "Zaps" Zander (ML's Crew 1976 - 1979) recalls Bar Harbour events.

The Bar Harbours – Tarapunga's near misses.

Before readiing the Bar Harbour ditties one must first acknowledge the many stories surrounding ML's around the coast. In due course I intend to source material from those that served on Fisheries Protection duties, many of which had Bar Harbour tales to tell.

But I am just going to touch on Tarapunga's encounters. As I experienced these it's fair to acknowledge the crew back then too. In 1977 the Survey ML's (Tarapunga and Takapu) completed the Firth of Thames survey's and were issued an HI (Hydrographic Instruction) to survey the Approaches to the Manukau Harbour, which was mainly from seaward side of the Bar, in to the North and South channels and the main entrance.

Takapu conducted surveying duties on the South Channel and Tarapunga was undertaking survey duties on the North Channel. One thing we always knew – these bars are treacherous. On a very fine day (small swells and smooth sea) Tarapunga was about half way out of the channel doing a Lead Light run when three large rogue swells crashed over the whole vessel. Tarapunga stopped dead in the water such was the force of the waves. The breaking waves saturated everyone on the Bridge. And a damage report from the Forward Mess said there was a bout 2 feet of water right through the mess and with the pantry cupboard forced open eggs and condiments everywhere.

However almost as bad was when both ML's were then tasked to survey the Raglan Bar and harbour. Not as dramatic was when coming back into port on an utterly flat calm day, no swell and no waves, we were entering over the bar and this 1.5m swell suddenly grabbed Tarapunga and threw her over to one side (called broaching) which our Coxswain (Wheel or helm) and CO (LtCdr John Stokes) on throttles managed to ride out of trouble and continue in.

The thing about these events is if there hadn't been a better seaboat the story would have been different.

Ode to Kuparu

These poems are gifted here by Bryan Shankland.  Here is his accompanying blurb followed by the Odes.

"Here is Ode to KUPARU which is in two scans and the other which was penned after a certain division managed to do major damage to PEGASUS’s beloved ML at Admiralty steps. The poems were penned by J(John)A Hanson a seaman at PEGASUS. The first was penned when KUPARU left PEGASUS prior to PG getting KIWI the next year. I was the Regular Chief there at the time."


Click here for Compulsory Military Training (CMT) and the role of the HDML's in the 50's.


This image is one of Kuparu's famous moments. Would very much like any names please? Is between 1967 (December) to 1972 (September) (his GG Tenure)

Sir Arthur Porritt, our first New Zealand-born Governor-General (1967-72), seen here with Lady Porritt and navy personnel at Waitangi. Sir Arthur won a bronze medal in the 100 metre sprint at the 1924 Olympics ( depicted by the character 'Tom Watson' in the film Chariots of Fire) and went on to have a distinguished career as surgeon for His Majesty King George and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Left to right.  POS Dave Kenton, Alec Pryde,  ????,  ????,  GA Smith, John Porritt,  POME Gangers Stewart, GG, Lady GG, EM1 Scott.

HMNZS Paea with Police Dive Squad (Possibly Wellington.)

Unidentified ML at Kawau Island's Mansion House Bay Wharf. (1950's)


There is a book out called Salty Dits, anecdotes from the ML's.  Here is the Blurb:

Salty Dits
Some tales from the MLs by those who served in them.
During the Second World War the New Zealand Government purchased three Bird class minesweepers and four Isle Class minesweepers.
To this small fleet, eleven minesweeping trawlers were built in New Zealand along with twelve anti-submarine, B Type Fairmiles. Sixteen Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDMLs) were also purchased from overseas.
After the war, many of these 72 foot HDMLs were retained to work around the New Zealand coast.
This is their story as told by those who served in them.
Gerry Wright who compiled this book and served in the Royal New Zealand Navy, had command of one of these in 1965.
335 pages with black and white photos.
ISBN 978-0-473-17905-2
Available for purchase online at www.mascom.co.nz


One of our venerated VR rating come officer.  Served on many vessels including a number of ML's.  Commander Gavin Wright VRD (Rtd)  Click here for his Biography.


Tales from The Radio Operator (David Jasper Robertson) HMNZS Mako 1965-66

Being a Manukau boy the first live cray I ever saw was on Mako up north. A huge Packhorse as koha from a fisherman.Cook O the day I was advised by those who were in the know (Ron Burns, Ernie Grey, Kevin Goldstone, Shady Ryder) that you plunge it head first into a pot of boiling water. Put in tail first it will end up back on the deck. A clean 5 gallon can was provided and boiled up and taking the Packhorse I plunged it into the can. Not much happened for a minute then the tail straighten to the vertical.... then all hell let loose as it started flapping like crazy (as you would) and all the hot water ended up all over the deck and of course put out the stove.
Screams of laughter from the bridge where everybody had retreated for safety.
And I don't even like the stuff.


It was a given that you did not leave corned beef in the fridge with a new crew member doing the cooking cos sure as himself made little green apples he would roast it.
For those who ask the question what can you do with corned beef that has been roasted.... the only one I know is you get in some shot put practice.


One more.... as a Sparker you did two hours on two hours off in the Radio Office reading morse code and typing messages out.
When you were Cook you did that but your last watch finished at 2200 so you did not do your trick on the wheel.
I used to have a piece of ply on my bunk (top by fridge) and when I heard the call tape stop I would go out and type the message.