Compiled by Michael Pryce with the assistance of M. Berthold, A. Calvert, I. Edwards, I. J. Farquhar, D. Gardner, N. Kirby, R. J. McDougall, and from the newsletters of the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty Branches of the Society
Ngapara was one of a class of four cargo crane ships built for the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand by Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd., Dundee. The others were the Ngakuta, Ngatoro and Ngahere.
Built in 1966, she was of 4,575 gross tonnage, and she was sold in 1986 and her new owners renamed her Kent Brilliant, and operated her under the Panamanian flag. She lost her rudder north of the Philippines in early April 1993 and was towed to Keelung, Taiwan, where she arrived on 14th April 1993. No repairs were effected, and she was sold and renamed Financier, still under the Panamanian flag later in 1993. She arrived under tow at Huangpu on 18th May 1993 and was thought to have been demolished.
On 29th July 2006 she was noted and photographed by Ian Edwards lying at Shanghai as Zheng He No. 9, fully repaired and in fine condition, with light grey hull and green boot-topping. However, all of her deck cranes had been removed, leaving only the deckhouses that they were once mounted on. Her owners are Yingkouzhenghe Ocean Shipping Co. Ltd., Yingkou, China, Panamanian flag.
“R Tucker Thompson” Gifted to Northland
On 26th May 2006 it was announced that the “tall ship” R Tucker Thompson was to be given to the people of Northland. Built at Mangawhai in 1985, she has changed the lives of nearly seventy thousand people that have sailed in her. On 4th June 2006 Russell Harris (the ship’s builder, Master and owner) handed over R Tucker Thompson to a Board of Trustees to hold her on behalf of the youth of Northland. The ship will be used to train young people to sail and it is envisaged that through this they will learn important life skills. Russell Harris says: “It is in Northland that we have the greatest need to provide for our youth. Life up here can sometimes be remote and it makes sense for them to be equipped through life by learning from the sea. Time aboard ship requires commitment, communication, leadership, initiative and humour, all the fundamentals of life.”
The training programme for youth will be run through the R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust, a charitable and not-for-profit organisation.
Six sailing trips per year are planned, each voyage giving up to ten young people the opportunity to learn skills aboard the ship.
R Tucker Thompson joins Spirit of New Zealand as the second sail training ship in New Zealand, and the first in Northland.
“Joseph Brown” Scrapped
Previous incidents in the saga of the ex-Admiralty salvage tug Rollicker, renamed Joseph Brown in1997, (1,037 gross tonnage, built 1973) have been covered in Vol.46, No.4, Vol.47, No.1, Vol.48, No.4 and Vol.49, No.4. Readers may recall that she towed the two ex-Royal Navy frigates Jupiter and Hermione from U.K. to India for scrapping in 1997-98. There had been later rumours that, under the name of Al Fahd, she had sunk in the Arabian Sea. However, the tug Fahd, (ex-Al Fahd, ex-Joseph Brown, ex-Rollicker in 1997) was reported sold by unspecified interests to Indian breakers and was beached at Alang Beach on 7th March 2006 for demolition.
In the trans-Tasman Butterfly/Kiwi service Maersk replaced CEC Star with the 1,100 TEU Vega Gotland (9,678 gross tonnage, built 2005), owned by Freidrich Dauber Vega-Reederei KG, Hamburg, but trading under the Antigua & Barbuda flag. She is another of the German-designed CV1100 class completed or still under construction at up to a dozen shipyards worldwide and is a sister to ANL Yarrunga The 19-knot Vega Gotland is yard number 404 from China’s Kouan Shipbuilding Industry Co, Taizhou, Jiangsu Province and was previously operating briefly in Maersk’s Far East-Indian Ocean feeder service.
CEC Star made her last trans-Tasman sailing in late July 2006 and was then chartered to CMA CGM for four months. Vega Gotland made her first trans-Tasman sailing in early August 2006.
Strait Shipping’s Monte Stello’s starboard engine had to be shut down for repairs during her voyage to New Zealand in January 2006. Whilst she was in Auckland, both engines were rebuilt with other new pistons, liners and numerous other new components. Just before Easter (by which time it was hoped to have her in Wellington), engine trials alongside in Auckland revealed more problems.
Monte Stello finally sailed from Auckland on 1st June for Wellington after more engine trials, but was forced to return to Auckland that day because of a sticking piston. She sailed from Auckland again on the morning of 10th June 2006 and arrived in Wellington early in the morning of 12th June. She made a trial sailing empty of cargo from Wellington to Picton on the evening of 14th June, and arrived back next morning.
She made her first commercial sailing with “test” freight only from Wellington on the evening of 17th June and returned from Picton on the early morning of 18th June, and this permitted Strait Shipping to check how various trucks would stow on board, etc. However, by that time she had suffered some problems with her port engine, and on return to Wellington she laid up at Glasgow Wharf for an engine inspection, which revealed the necessity for repair work which was likely to take some time, so on 21st June she was moved from Glasgow Wharf to Inter Island Wharf, where she was berthed stern-in so that her stern ramp could be lowered for ease of access. By 27th June it became apparent that her starboard engine was in need of further repairs, and by 28th June it had been decided that a new engine block and crankshaft needed to be supplied and fitted to the port engine and a new crankshaft to the starboard engine. This was a lengthy task that was estimated to be going to take about three months to complete, which was a serious setback to Strait Shipping’s plans.
In early August 2006 a large hole was cut through her lower vehicle deck and the port engine entablature block and crankshaft were lifted out. The new crankshaft was ready for fitting to the starboard engine, but a new engine entablature block and crankshaft was awaited for the port engine. Numerous pistons and connecting rods from both stripped-down engines were stored on the vehicle deck.
During this period, the ship’s crew was busy carrying out other survey tasks, such as landing her port lifeboat to facilitate work, and landing her port anchor and cable onto the wharf for inspection, cleaning and repainting.
On 1st September 2006 the new parts for the port engine arrived alongside the ship in a container, and the contents were taken aboard during the day, ready to be fitted into place and reassembled. They were lowered through the hole in the vehicle deck into position on 11th September, by which time repair work on the starboard engine was virtually complete. The hole in the vehicle deck was welded closed by 19th September. During this period of enforced idleness, the existing cafeteria area on board had been gutted and rebuilt.
Monte Stello was expected to re-enter service in mid-October 2006.
Purbeck, Toll’s Cook Strait freight ferry, which had been laid up in Wellington since 31st October 2005, was quietly re-commissioned during early August 2006. From 14th August until 9th September 2006 she replaced the ferry Challenger, which sailed from Wellington late in the evening of 13th August for a dry-docking in Brisbane. In early September it became known that she was to go to Venezuelan ferry company Conferry, and sale and handover took place on 27th September 2006 in Wellington. Her name Purbeck was to be retained but her port of registry was changed to Kingstown (St. Vincent).
Conferry operate both fast ferries and conventional ferries from the mainland Venezuelan ports of Puerto La Cruz and La Guaria to Margarita Island, lying north of the Venezuelan mainland. Purbeck sailed from Wellington on 6th October 2006 bound via the Panama Canal to Curacao, where she was to be dry-docked prior to entering service in Venezuelan waters.
Toll’s ferry Challenger sailed from Wellington on the late evening of 13th August 2006 for Brisbane for drydocking, arriving there on 17th August. Challenger had been in service across Cook Strait for twelve months, and after the bad winter weather was looking somewhat rust-streaked down the sides of her accommodation block. She arrived back in Wellington freshly repainted on 9th September and resumed commercial service across Cook Strait on 10th September 2006.
ANZDL Reincarnated as ANZL
In late June 2006 US Lines (USL) announced they were to start a new liner service to Australia and New Zealand in July 2006 under an ANZL banner. The branding comes because many of those involved in the operation previously worked for Michael Beard, former head of Australia-New Zealand Direct Line (ANZDL) and Noel Coom, who will run the Australia/N.Z. operation. When ANZDL was sold to CP Ships, Mr. Beard took many of his ANZDL managers to Tranz Rail (New Zealand) which he briefly headed until its takeover by Toll.
ANZL are planning a fortnightly service using 1,100 TEU ships southbound from Los Angeles direct to New Zealand. Transit times have not yet been confirmed, and the group is reported to be reviving tradition by playing ports, in this case Tauranga and Auckland, off against each other before making a final port call selection. Given the small vessel size, the southbound service will be competitive, the source says, but northbound will be a long haul from New Zealand to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and on to Hong Kong, South China and North America.
The new triangular service will operate clockwise around the Pacific, sailing from Los Angeles to Tauranga, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane before linking direct with Hong Kong/Shekou (South China) and then returning to Los Angeles. The service will initially operate bi-weekly and will employ four 1,100 TEU 19-knot ships (three of which are of the CV1100 type, the same as Vega Gotland). The vessels so far listed are the gearless 1,118 TEU Falcon 1 (9,912 gross tonnage, built 2006, ex-Frisia Wumme in 2006), the 1,118 TEU Eagle 2 (9,966 gross tonnage, built 2006, ex-Surinam River in 2006), the gearless 1,100 TEU Kookaburra 1 (9,910 gross tonnage, built 2006, ex-El Temerario in 2006, launched as Mito Strait) and USL Kiwi.
The service is expected to become weekly from mid-November 2006 with a further four ships nominated as USL Hawk, USL Condor, USL Kea and USL Phoenix. USL is headed by Mr. Ed Aldridge and shareholders, board and management feature a number of former Australia New Zealand Direct Line personnel. Staff recruited for the line in Australia and New Zealand has also largely been drawn from former ANZDL ranks. The first vessel, Falcon 1, sailed from Los Angeles on 10th August 2006 and was due in Tauranga on 25th August and Melbourne on 30th August. ANL will buy slots on all but the trans-Tasman leg of the service and has an option to supply two vessels from mid-2007.
During June 2006 the fortyfour-foot Waveney lifeboat ex-R.N.L.I. 44-019 was purchased by Peter Goodmanson of Hastings. Known locally as P&O Nedlloyd Rescue, it was the Waiheke Island coastguard boat.
When the Wellington (F69) frigate was scuttled off Wellington’s south coast on 13th November 2005, three similar Waveney lifeboats were used together to assist her sinking, and all three were berthed adjacent to each other at Queens Wharf a few days before the scuttling. John Barton Acland Rescue (44-022), privately owned in Picton since 2005, Westgate Rescue (44-010) and Trust Porirua Rescue (44-017) were all used as small tugs to hold the hulk of the frigate in position prior to its being sunk by explosives.
Many of the Waveneys in Britain are now being replaced or supplemented by smaller high-speed inshore rescue craft.
“Manuia/Venture” – “King Kong” Ship Heart of Aquarium Plan
In mid-July 2006 it was announced that the ship that starred in the New Zealand-made film “King Kong” had been bought by a Wellington property developer who wants it to be the centrepiece of a NZ$4 million waterfront aquarium. Phil Stratford said he bought Manuia, renamed Venture in the film, from director Peter Jackson for “not a lot of money”. Manuia has been tied up at Miramar Wharf since filming finished. Most of the features added to the ship for filming have been removed. A proposal late last year for the ship to become a dive wreck off Mana Island was abandoned after Porirua City Council refused to underwrite the $400,000 cost. Mr. Stratford has offered Wellington Waterfront NZ$4 million for a 199-year lease on waterfront land near the Lynx fast-ferry terminal (at Waterloo Quay Wharf). He said the ship would be an integral part of the aquarium. “It would be located in the foyer from which patrons will enter the building and then be transported by glass walkway through the hold and engine rooms, then into the aquarium proper, finally emerging after 100 metres on to the deck of the Venture. At this point they will be greeted by a huge fish tank between the masts of the vessel."
Mr. Stratford said he was working with Auckland company Marinescape which had built more than forty aquariums around the world, including Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World in Auckland and the National Aquarium in Napier. Mr. Stratford said his aquarium could attract 350,000 visitors in its first year and 225,000 thereafter. It would be built and operated without any ratepayer subsidy.
However, a Wellington City Council spokesman said it was committed to supporting a rival aquarium proposal for Te Raekaihau Point on the city's south coast. The Council did not believe there was room for rival aquariums in the city, spokesman Simon Beattie said. “We believe the South Coast proposal fits well with our objectives of conservation, education and increased tourism”. Wellington Waterfront chairwoman Fran Wilde was not enthusiastic about Jackson’s ship ending up on the waterfront. Ms. Wilde said “Mr. Stratford’s was one of a number of aquarium proposals Wellington Waterfront had received. But all were on hold till the fate of the South Coast one was known”. The South Coast proposal remains in the planning stages after resource consent commissioners were unable to agree this year on whether it should be granted resource consents.
However, Mr. Stratford said his proposal was not getting a fair go because the Council had promised NZ$7.5 million in interest-free loans and grants to the south coast aquarium, even though an October 2004 consultants’ report found an inner-city aquarium would benefit from closer proximity to Te Papa and the Museum of Wellington City and Sea and would be better situated for cruise ships and tour groups.
At the end of September 2006 Manuia/Venture remained laid up at Miramar Wharf with no activity at all taking place aboard her.
In mid-July 2006 it was announced that the making of the King Kong film, which grossed more than US$500 million (NZ$808 million) worldwide, also had received a grant of NZ$48.65 million from the Government. The payout was based on qualifying expenditure of NZ$389.22 million. The New Zealand Government tries to attract large film projects to New Zealand through its production grant scheme, which offers a 12.5 per cent rebate on production expenditure of more than NZ$15 million in New Zealand.
To qualify, total expenditure in New Zealand must represent more than 70 per cent of a production's total budget–unless expenditure in New Zealand exceeds $50 million.
On 13th July 2006 it was announced that Rotorua’s Lakeland Queen tourism venture had failed, owing more than $850,000 to creditors. Mokoia Island Tours and Cruises, which operated the Lakeland Queen paddle steamer, had tried to attract big-spending tourists, but Majpie Investments Ltd., the company behind it, is now in receivership.
The business targeted rich visitors willing to pay $145 for a meal, a cruise across Lake Rotorua and a tour of Mokoia Island. However, there weren’t enough clients to keep the business afloat. Lakeland Queen (160 gross tonnage, built 1986) is for sale for an unknown price in an attempt by the receivers to pay back some of the money owed. Dubbed the “Lady of the Lake”, she is moored at the lakefront and has not been used for the past few months.
“Rotoiti” to be Withdrawn
In mid-July 2006 Hapag-Lloyd announced it was withdrawing the roll-on, roll-off vessel Rotoiti (22,278 gross tonnage, built 1977) from its fixed-day fortnightly trans-Tasman service towards the end of 2006. It is understood the decision to end the Auckland-Melbourne-Sydney-Auckland service has been largely precipitated by a diminishing breakbulk market, particularly in regards to such commodities as timber. Additionally, with the shipping line now providing up to six mainline weekly container services on the Tasman alone, the need for additional container space in Rotoiti has lessened. Other factors, such as high fuel costs and exchange-rate movement, have also been cited as determining factors by the shipping company.
In a press release, Hapag-Lloyd New Zealand General Manager Blair Morris said the shipping company would be working to arrange alternative services with its breakbulk customers. “Shippers of containerised cargo will continue to have access to our mainline services, which provide the most comprehensive trans-Tasman coverage available”, he said. “Rotoiti has had a successful and popular presence on the Tasman since 1977”.
She was built for the Union Steam ship Co., of N.Z. as Union Rotoiti in 1977 by Whyalla Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., the second of two sisters (following Union Rotorua), both unusual by being powered by a gas turbine driving electric motors. They were built for the trans-Tasman roll-on, roll-off trade and were fitted with a lifting bow door and angled stern door and ramp. In early 1986 Union Rotoiti had her gas turbine and electric motors replaced by a large Wartsila diesel engine and she continued her trans-Tasman sailings.
During 1999 the remnants of the once-great Union Steam Ship Company were sold off to U.K.-based CP Ships, and the still unconverted Union Rotorua was scrapped in Bangladesh at the end of 1999. Union Rotoiti became plain Rotoiti and transferred from the New Zealand to the Bermuda flag in September 1999. Early in 2000 she received an extensive refit at Brisbane and resumed trans-Tasman service with a black hull, white superstructure and the ANZDL (Australia New Zealand Direct Line, a CP Ships subsidiary company) funnel colours of blue with a white A and a black top. With the consolidation of the many CP shipping companies into “one brand”, she was renamed CP Rotoiti in August 2005 and received a dark blue funnel with a red/white chequerboard panel. This was short-lived, as in early 2006 CP Ships was taken over by Hapag Lloyd and she reverted to the name Rotoiti and adopted Hapag Lloyd funnel colours. Her demise will remove the last visible reminder (for those who remember) of the Union Steam Ship Company’s past stronghold in trans-Tasman services.
During May 2006 the Master of the Interislander ferry Aratere had his Master’s Certificate suspended by Maritime NZ, thereby prohibiting him from commanding ships. The condition was imposed on the Master after initial findings from Maritime NZ investigators concerning a stormy crossing of Cook Strait on 3rd March 2006. “That person is not able to sail as Master till Maritime NZ has completed its investigation into the sailing, but is able to continue working on board as a Mate”, a spokesperson said.
On the voyage in question, Aratere finally arrived in Picton several hours late after taking the northern entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound, which is safer than the usual route through Tory Channel but takes longer. The ferry heeled over on its starboard side by about fifty degrees on two occasions, sending furniture sliding across cabins and throwing vehicles around on the lower decks. More than twenty vehicles were damaged and six rail wagons toppled over. Records showed that southerly winds in Cook Strait on 3rd March increased throughout the afternoon and peaked with an average speed of 49 knots, gusting to 63 knots at 8.00p.m.
Passenger’s stories of a harrowing crossing were also published. On 22nd June 2006 the “Dominion Post” ran a dramatic computer-generated illustration on its front page with the headline “Cook Strait Ferry Aratere Nearly Capsized. “An Interislander ferry came ‘extremely’ close to capsizing after its Captain made ‘foolhardy’ decisions crossing Cook Strait in rough seas”, a maritime expert stated. On 5th July, the Master who had been suspended withdrew a subsequent appeal against that suspension, but still faced possible prosecution as investigations continued. His lawyers later said he had withdrawn his appeal. “With the benefit of hindsight and exposure to training developed since, he accepts that some things should have been done differently during the crossing. He was to undergo extra training before he can again take control of a ship. Maritime New Zealand says he can take charge of the vessel again, after he has undertaken training in heavy weather sailing and Cook Strait navigation.” It is understood that the required training was completed and the Master was reinstated to command by the end of September 2006.
Aratere had problems with worn bushes on her stern door on 16th July 2006, so was alongside AQ5 at Wellington on 17th July with stern door removed and lying on deck under repair.
Accordingly, Arahura was not able to sail for Auckland for drydocking on 17th July 2006 as planned, and was required to operate Aratere's timetable for the next couple of days. After Aratere resumed service on the evening of 19th July, Arahura sailed from Wellington early in the morning of 20th July for Auckland for the proposed drydocking. She arrived back in Wellington on the evening of 2nd August. The most noticeable feature of work done in drydock was the application of black boot-topping paint that had been “stepped-up” at the bow to also include her bulbous bow area. Previously this had been painted white, but being constantly in the area of a bow wave, was usually soon coated with green slime, so the new boot-topping in that area should cure that.
Arahura made her first berthing at the new RFT3 berth on 21st August in order to carry out some maintenance work. The road linkspan does not, of course, fit her rail-ferry linkspan, so she berthed starboard side alongside, bow-south, and well clear of the linkspan area.
At a Wanganui District Council harbour committee meeting on 26th June 2006, Cr. Barbara Bullock said it was embarrassing that Mayor Michael Laws, CEO David Warburton, and port lessee and operator River City Port Ltd., were not in attendance. River City Port Ltd. officials were to present their report on port operations but had offered their apologies instead. Council property manager Rowan McGregor gave a report on the structure of the Castlecliff Wharf, some parts of which are about 100 years old. In a draft report commissioned to look at the issues of the wharf and submit a design proposal for wharf repairs, the meeting was told that there were O.S.H. issues, with failing sections of the Victory Shed, existing hole hazards and general disrepair in the concrete along the wharf. Mr. McGregor sought a recommendation to address the ongoing maintenance issues, but what became clear, as pointed out by Cr. Sue Westwood, was the question of, “Who is responsible for what?” Cr. Westwood said the committee did not know what the lease agreement between the W.D.C. and River City Port Ltd. was, and therefore they “could not adopt the report because the ramifications had serious repercussions”. Cr. Bullock said there was no mention in the Wanganui District Council’s long term financial plan to pay for any design work. What the committee did agree on was it needed to be confirmed that any hazards as identified by O.S.H. had been mitigated.
Mr. McGregor explained in his property sales processes report that purchase of harbour endowment land was nowhere near as straightforward as private real estate transactions. He said there were processes to go through with iwi land claims and people who wanted to freehold their land. Before the part of the meeting that excluded the public Cr. Ray Stevens said he was sick and tired of reports being dumped on the table on the day and excused himself.
Wanganui harbour’s plight has worsened since River City Port Ltd. took over its lease, Port of Wanganui Ltd. spokesman Tuffy Churton claimed on 29th June. Asked by the “Wanganui Chronicle” whether the harbour was virtually defunct, he said “It’s not operational”. “The problem is hugely worse than when the lease transferred from Ocean Terminals Ltd. to River City Port Ltd.” Mr. Churton said the Wanganui District Council ought to seek legal advice about its obligations and start enforcing the lease. The harbour impasse became glaringly obvious at a meeting (see the opening paragraph) of the council’s harbour committee, chaired by Cr. Randhir Dahya. The lessee was scheduled to present a port operations report but principal Colin Cashmore and port manager John Blaikie were absent. Committee members were left with unanswered questions. Mayor Michael Laws said there was a good relationship with River City Port Ltd. a year ago and, if the question of port responsibilities could not be resolved by negotiation, it would have to be legally determined. None of this surprised Mr. Churton. He said Port of Wanganui Ltd. remained interested in making something of the harbour, despite being cold-shouldered by the council when it came up with a development proposal a couple of years ago. He considered Wanganui’s recreational boaties, the Q-West boat building plant, fishermen and Coast Guard were getting the “run around” under the current lease because the siltation had reached a serious level. Wharf damage was also becoming an issue. Mr. Churton asked whether the council’s harbour endowment money was well spent while the River City Port Ltd. lease was achieving practically nothing. Port of Wanganui Ltd. could go no further with the council, even the present one, he said. So it would look for help in Wellington and perhaps work in conjunction with an overseas port company.
A Korean fishing vessel, Shin Ji, (ex-Kinsei Maru No.15) had arrived in Wanganui by 11th August 2006, and was berthed alongside another one already in port, No. 11 Green. Both vessels appear to be undergoing steelwork modifications by Koreans prior to starting fishing operations. Shin Ji from Castlecliff on 19th September for Nelson.
On 18th August 2006 the tug Nautilus III and a steel barge, both owned by McManaway Tug & Barge Ltd., were berthed at Castlecliff, loading bundled timber fence posts; they sailed during the afternoon. Nautilus III and barge Waimarie arrived in the Whanganui River on the morning of 8th September with about 250 tonnes of dolomite from Tarakohe, and after discharge, loaded about 240 tonnes of bundled tanalised fence posts and sailed for Picton the same day.
We have mentioned the barging of fence posts from Wanaganui in several recent issues. These are part of an order for 100,000 fence posts for vineyards sold into the Blenheim area for the past three years by Huatapu Pine via Wanganui company AgHire, but 2006 is proving to be their best year yet. All the posts need to be pointed and Huatapu Pine has installed a second pointing machine to cope with demand. The pointing machines are essentially like a huge pencil sharpener that posts are fed into. Getting the fence posts to Blenheim requires much coordination between two trucking firms, two ports and the barging company. Barging the fence posts across Cook Strait is more economical than trucking them via ferry, but the operation does require relatively calm weather, so delays can occur. There are two size of barges used in the sixteen-hour voyage from Wanganui to Picton, either 250 or 500-tonnes capacity. In September 2006 the 250-tonne barge was making weekly trips to keep up with demand. Production and delivery of the fence posts is due to be completed by October 2006.
The paddle steamer Waimarie was slipped successfully on the morning of 11th August 2006, at the Q-West slipway, Wanganui, just before high tide. Cleaning the hull commenced soon after, and she was planned to be on the slip for two weeks.
She came off the Q-West slip trolley near high water, shortly prior to midday on 27th August 2006, and proceeded back upriver, negotiating both Cobham and Town Bridges without incident. It is hoped that future slipping will occur on a purpose-built facility intended to be built at the bottom of Georgetti Road.
New Zealand Butter Advertisement
An interesting article about a New Zealand butter advertisement in U.K. was written by Michael Grey and published by Lloyd’s List on 24th July 2006.
“To defend the shipping industry, you have to be very, very alert lest the attacks get in under the radar. They come when you least expect them. I was sitting in the garden last weekend leafing through a colour supplement when an unusual advertisement caught my eye. ‘Why choose Anchor Butter that’s shipped frozen, when you can choose Country Life?’ The full page advertisement juxtaposes what purports to be a container ship on its way from New Zealand, the artist clearly never having seen a container ship, with a couple of thatched houses, where, it is subliminally hinted, dairymaids in smocks and mop caps are churning away enthusiastically, reducing the milk from British farms into the yellow stuff we love to spread thickly on our toast.
“I have to say that my first reaction was to spring into defensive mode in support of Anchor butter. My formative years were spent hauling thousands of tons of the stuff from New Zealand, whole lower holds full of 56lb pats in cardboard cartons which gave our ships a comforting bottom weight and much improved the stability when topped off with ’tweendecks full of lamb and apples.
“One of my treats as an apprentice was to tour a New Zealand butter works and I can still remember the processes, and the cleanliness and the enthusiasm of the workers who presented us hungry apprentices with a great lump of freshly made cheese, which was, I recall, a useful auxiliary product and went down very well in the half-deck.
“Perhaps because of this impressive afternoon, but more accurately because years later I ended up with a New Zealand wife, we have eaten Anchor butter ever since we set up home in this country.
“It is perhaps but a small gesture to spite the evil empire of Fortress Brussels, which has worked hard for decades to bury New Zealand agriculture with its grotesque tariff walls.
“Even as I was writing this I heard (from my wife) that the frightful European Trade Commissioner has actually banned Anchor butter, voted Britain’s best loved food brand in 2001, from Europe after some footling German complaint about ‘unfairness’.
“‘This bloody EU—I hate it,’ cried my wife, using uncharacteristically strong language for the Christian lady she is, I know what she means.
But we also eat it because we like its taste compared with that of English butter, which my wife describes as tasting ‘off’, which it probably isn’t but you know what you like, and you stick to it, like Anchor butter sticks to bread.
“And our loyalties remain firm, although my wife did once buy a lump of Lurpak in solidarity with the Danes when the cartoon fiasco was in full cry. We are not naturally political shoppers, but we can sometimes be swayed by events. I am also prejudiced by ‘knocking’ copy, which seems to be a growing and regrettable feature of modern advertising. Anchor, which seems to specialise in television advertisements featuring musical Guernsey cows, how they train them to sing and dance is nothing short of miraculous, does not ‘knock’ the various competitive products available over here.
“Perhaps they could point out that British cows are stuffed with hormones, tortured by being milked three times each day and fed crushed sheep’s brains and stinking silage in their dark sheds, when New Zealand cows enjoy nutritious green grass every day of the year. They won’t. They are far too decent.
“But it is the issue of shipping butter frozen and the fact that it travels 11,000 miles from New Zealand which really set the alarm bells ringing. There is not a shred of evidence that butter is in any way diminished from either its lowered temperature or its passage in a clean aircooled container from the Antipodes. It probably helps the butter to mature.
“But that is not the point either. The real concern is that there is a fast growing green movement against the logistics industry and the ‘transport miles’ that it takes to deliver goods from producer to market. Instead of people pointing out how unbelievably miraculous it is that we can ship goods from the furthest extremities of the earth, with a transport cost that is quite ridiculously low, we are being told that we should deplore the ‘transport miles’ that are employed for the damage being done to the planet. It is a new and dangerous slogan. It is some years since the government of this country decided to close down all the lunatic asylums and employ a ‘care in the community’ policy. The lunatics are now all firmly in charge, whingeing about ‘transport miles’ and deploring the fact that their sun-dried tomatoes and polenta have to be shipped all the way from Italy to Islington rather than grown in Hackney urban farms.
“‘Transport miles’ is due to become a major issue, like ‘fair trade’ goods and pictures of smiling banana pickers on the Waitrose fruit and vegetable counters, urging shoppers into some sort of ethical statement as they fill up their trolleys. There is also a pretty sinister conspiracy of politically driven people who imply that all transport is bad, menacing the planet and melting the ice caps. And while they are busily having a go at 4 x 4 drivers, thereby proving that class and envy are potent ingredients, and avoiding the airlines (only the foolhardy will attack the holidays of the masses), look for more vulnerable shipping to be soon firmly in their sights.
“I have regularly pointed out that it is the profound ignorance about ships and shipping that makes our industry a tempting target for maddened greens and ill-informed politicians alike. These people want to scupper world trade and reduce us to a sort of impoverished peasantry living on locally grown turnips. Transport miles, and dubious statistics about the consumption of energy to haul our Anchor butter from New Zealand, or our white goods from China, are just one early feature of the coming attack in which the word ‘sustainability’ will feature large.
“The shipping industry needs to be on its guard and have its defences ready. It might even have to make shipping more sustainable.”
On 22nd September 2006 the European Union agreed to a transitional solution in the New Zealand butter row which allows 14,000 tonnes of butter from New Zealand to be shipped to Europe. New Zealand butter imports into the European Union were suspended on 12th July after a German dairy company, Egenberger, won a case in the European Court of Justice, the Supreme Court, that Fonterra’s control of New Zealand butter imports through its London-based subsidiary was monopolistic and discriminatory. Under the temporary agreement at least six companies will have to tender for the right to import butter to the E.U., rather than only Fonterra. Trade Negotiations Minister, Phil Goff, said that a longer-term solution needed to meet the terms of the recent European Court of Justice ruling, but also needed to be consistent with the E.U.’s long established commitments to New Zealand. “I have spoken to the Commissioner of Agriculture again and impressed upon her that, while we acknowledge the European legal ruling, we must also find a solution that ensures that New Zealand is no worse off as a result of the changes they must make to their regulations,” Mr. Goff said. The European Commission’s spokesperson for Agriculture, Michael Mann, says the deal doesn’t threaten the 77,000 tonnes of butter New Zealand supplies a year.
But Mr. Goff said that he was concerned no progress had been made to find a solution for 2007’s butter trade. The issue follows a European Court of Justice ruling that parts of the regulations controlling the New Zealand quota were invalid. The European Commission has proposed that the rest of New Zealand’s butter quota for this year be allowed after consultation with New Zealand officials. The proposal is due to go to European Commissioners in late September for approval. “If it proceeds in its current form, we will accept this proposal but I am concerned that despite intensive consultations, we have still not made progress towards finding a solution for next year’s butter imports,” Mr. Goff said.
New Zealand has preferential access to Europe for dairy products, dating from when Britain, its traditional customer, joined the European Economic Community. It is charged a lower tariff on annual quotas for 77,402 tonnes of butter, 7,000 tonnes of cheddar cheese, and 4,000 tonnes of cheese for processing. Fonterra has been earning extra profit from the quota rents, the difference in the world price at which the butter is exported from New Zealand and the roughly NZ$200 million a year price tag at which it can then be sold in the European Union’s protected market. The butter imports to Europe were temporarily suspended following the European Court of Justice ruling. The temporary ban was lifted but 14,300 tonnes of New Zealand origin butter was left in limbo awaiting a decision by the E.U.
The 34-metre Fairmile patrol launch Motunui was moved by truck between Tauranfga and Waitomo on the night of 12th July 2006. Built in 1942 and later a passenger ferry plying between Auckland and Waiheke Island for Fullers Ferries, she was purchased for use at Mr. Billy Black’s Woodlyn Park motel, on Waitomo Valley Road, Waitomo Caves. Mr. Black said that he was intending to drain a lake at his Woodlyn Park farm and get the boat on to an island in the lake. It was intended to convert it into five motel units by January 2007. The ship will join Mr. Black’s other unique accommodation attractions, which include a Bristol freighter aircraft, a Fiat railcar and a “hobbit hole”.
A “new” ship on the New Zealand to North Asia container service from late August 2006 was Maersk Niigata (37,902 gross tonnage, built 1991, ex-Arafura in 2006). She replaced Aotea (35,818 gross tonnage, built 1980, ex-Nichigoh Maru in 2001), which was renamed MOL Mauao (understood to be another Maori name for Mount Maunganui) and is operating on another service from New Zealand.
Cook Strait Current Turbines
In June 2006 it was revealed that power companies were investigating an ambitious project to place underwater turbines in Cook Strait as an answer to New Zealand’s electricity shortage. Scientists behind the idea say harnessing the tidal currents could meet the entire country's electricity needs. State-owned power companies Meridian Energy and Transpower are included in the project’s development. In what would be a multibillion-dollar scheme, up to 7,000 turbines would be anchored to the sea floor and float about forty metres below the surface. The project’s leaders, Christchurch scientists David Beach and Chris Bathurst, believe the tidal currents could be harnessed to generate enough electricity for the whole country. The scientists, the founding directors of Neptune Power, are investigating the placing of the submerged turbines in an area stretching over 200 square kilometres of Cook Strait, from its northern fringes close to the Marlborough Sounds to further south between Wellington and Cloudy Bay. “We think we have the best site in the southern hemisphere”, Mr. Bathurst said.
Meridian, New Zealand’s largest hydro-generation company, met them to discuss the scheme. The scientists also met Transpower, operator of the national grid. A secondary tidal generation project in Foveaux Strait is also being considered. Mr. Bathurst said they would be in Wellington to talk to the local fishing industry, which would have a “critical role” to play in monitoring and maintaining the turbines. “We want to keep fishermen on side. All these units are going to require tending. Fishing trawlers will be about the right size. It will be a profitable occupation, to contract to us and still have some system where they are still doing their own work”. Mr. Bathurst said the intention was to have the first turbine in place by 2008, but they were waiting for the completion of a trial close to the Orkney Islands. The company is also behind a proposed $380 million seventy-turbine wind farm at Makara to boost it power generation.
In late July 2006 the promoters of the ambitious plan said the site could be producing commercial quantities of electricity in five years. Revealing further details, they said the turbines would produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity, equal to the country’s current annual production from all sources. They were in Wellington to meet key players, including the Electricity Commissioner, Greater Wellington regional council and the fishing industry. Mr. Beach said the turbines would float forty metres below the surface in groups of twenty or forty. Each turbine would be held in place by an anchor plate bolted to the sea floor. Each group would be linked to a cable that would collect the energy and transport it to a shore station. There it would be converted into electricity for transfer to the national grid.
Mr. Bathurst said each turbine would cost about NZ$2 million. “That sounds a lot of money”, said Mr. Beach. “But new dams are expensive.” Undersea turbines required little in terms of infrastructure and maintenance, he said. They revolved at only 5rpm. “They can't go faster than the current. I think any self-respecting fish will be able to swim around them.” If the Orkney Isles tests prove successful, Mr. Bathurst and Mr. Beach say they would like their first prototype in place by 2009. Expansion thereafter would depend on the results of their tests and market demand for the power they produced. However, commercial quantities of electricity could be just five years away, they say. Niwa marine physicist Craig Stevens said though tidal energy was unlikely to be economic now, improvements in technology would change that, just as it had with wind energy. Dr. Stevens said Cook and Foveaux straits were the only bodies of water near New Zealand large enough and with strong enough tidal currents to be suitable for tidal energy stations. “The total resource is enormous. It’s so large, it’s pointless trying to spell it out.” Unlike hydro, tides would continue to generate electricity regardless of weather. “Tides never stop”, Mr. Bathurst said.
his predictability makes tidal energy an ideal complementary energy source for hydro power, Mr. Bathurst and Mr. Beach say. They are seeking a relationship with a hydro-power generator to whom they can sell the power they produce and are also working on issues for a future resource consent application.
Freight Next to Go on Main Trunk Line?
During July 2006 the news that the main trunk line would see the ending of the Auckland to Wellington “Overlander” passenger services from the end of September 2006 (now deferred) was followed by speculation that perhaps the withdrawal of Auckland to Wellington freight services could follow next. Rail operator Toll New Zealand’s board faced speculation in the transport industry that more closures of rail services were in the offing, including the backbone main trunk link. The “Overlander” passenger service was losing money and the Government decided not to subsidise it.
Industry observers said some freight services are also uneconomic and that even the future of freight on the main trunk line was not secure. “The reality for New Zealand is that there is a nightmare scenario in which Toll just puts railfreight on road trucks,” said the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.
A crunch time will come in long-running negotiations between Toll and the Government over access fees to the Government-owned track, an industry observer said. Toll could pull services. Toll NZ Chief Executive David Jackson said he could not comment on which lines were uneconomic or what would happen to them. Industry observers said the coal line between Lyttelton and the West Coast and the route between Tauranga and Auckland used by Port of Tauranga to get freight into Auckland are economic, as are milk trains used by Fonterra in the lower North Island. Beyond that, it is debatable. It is not clear that the main trunk itself is economic and will survive with Toll as the long-term operator at the current fee level. However, Toll may be painting a bleaker picture than necessary behind the scenes to increase pressure on the Government to contribute to the network upkeep. Toll is understood to have briefed major customers. The bleak picture may simply be a negotiating tactic. While Toll will be hurting from higher fuel prices, it should be gaining a competitive advantage over road because of rail’s innate greater fuel efficiency.
One of the issues with the Overlander service was the poor state of the network as well as that of the carriages. Speed restrictions operating on tracks because of their poor standard added as much as an hour to the journey.
There are many legal complexities involved, but in the long term other passenger operators can come in. In the case of freight lines, another operator can come in immediately if Toll gives up a line. Queensland Rail, the operator that has emerged as Toll Holdings’ only real competition in Australia, is seen as the only potential new operator in New Zealand. It has been on the acquisition trail. The Government recovers all of the expenses of the network from the operators in access fees after investing NZ$200 million in the track when Toll took control of Tranz Rail following its financial collapse in 2003. Toll operates most rail services in New Zealand except the Auckland passenger network.
The above could, of course, have some future effect on any new ferries built or purchased for operation across Cook Strait. The rail ferry Arahura was built in 1983 and various replacement plans have come and gone over the years, with no new building currently on order at any shipyard. If carriage of rail freight ceased, clearly it would ease Toll’s replacement plans and allow a less-costly road freight ferry to be utilized, with a potential substantial saving in the costs of a specialised type of ship and construction of new rail link spans able to accommodate a wider ship.
On 27th September it was announced that the Overlander service was to be continued with a reduced service, operating only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for most of the year, but reverting to daily services during the summer holiday period from December to Easter.
“Atlantic Trader 1”
In August 2006 a Public Notice in the “New Zealand Herald” advised that “notice was hereby given to the owner of the vessel Atlantic Trader 1 abandoned at the Titan Marine Repair Wharf at Westhaven, Auckland, that the vessel will be sold to defray expenses ten days after final publication of this notice. Contact Titan Marine Engineering Limited.” Atlantic Trader 1 (2,033 gross tonnage, built 1969) first arrived in Auckland on 15th June 2001. The vessel was still lying at the same berth by the end of September 2006, with nothing happening.
On 6th October 2006 the New Zealand Press Association ran a story “Rusting Ship Becomes Expensive Problem”. It said “The rusting hulk of a 2,000-tonne ship once intended to become a Cook Strait ferry is now an expensive headache for an Auckland marine engineering company. The NZ$10 million investment, which turned into $1 for millionaire Waikato farmer John Ramsey, was diverted to Auckland during its delivery voyage from Miami to Wellington in 2001 after it began taking on water and was nearly abandoned. It has been tied up ever since, clocking up berthage fees of NZ$200 a day because it is too unsafe to take to sea. When the ship arrived in Auckland Mr. Ramsey was horrified at the state of the hull and learned the marine survey that came with the ship was bogus. Maritime New Zealand was just as horrified at the state of the ship, and immediately banned it from going to sea. The hull was so rusty and structurally unsound, it was feared the ship would sink. Since then the Ports of Auckland has ordered all fuel, lubricants and other contaminants be removed in case it sinks at its berth where it still sat with a list to port and obvious signs of rust and decay over much of the hull and deck. Mr. Ramsey intended to use the ship on a new Cook Strait freight ferry service but sold it late in 2005 for $1. He paid five years of berthage owed on it, thought to be more than NZ$300,000, after it was tied up at Titan Marine Engineering’s wharf in Freeman’s Bay. However, the new Australian owner sold it again for a lot more than he paid without paying any fees. The latest mystery owner has also not paid fees, which were now thought to be nearly NZ$70,000. Titan Marine owner Mike Frewin refused to discuss the ship. “Legal proceedings are underway and it is probably better that I don't say anything”, he said. However, Mr. Ramsey said it had been an expensive disaster. He said he sold it for $1 to get rid of it but would not say how much he paid for it, although an industry source suggested he paid NZ$10 million. Taking legal action against the previous owners was investigated but was not an option, he said. “We bought a bit of a dud”, said Mr. Ramsey, who owns Crusader Meats in south Waikato and Pakatoa Island in the Hauraki Gulf. “That’s why I sold it for $1, to let someone else have the headache.” He said at NZ$200 a day to berth, the ship was too expensive to keep when it was not earning an income. Five years ago Maritime New Zealand director Russell Kilvington said the hull was so rusted and corroded pieces of it broke away in the hands. He expected it would be sold for scrap. “It is certainly one of the worst ships we have ever seen in terms of its total unseaworthiness” Mr. Kilvington said in 2001. Marine inspectors were astonished it had even reached New Zealand, he said. He was concerned that it had been allowed to sail by other authorities overseas. Maritime New Zealand general manager, maritime operations, John Mansell said no maintenance had been done since 2001 and it had deteriorated significantly since then. “The ship is in such a serious condition now we believe the only valid option is for it to be scrapped or dumped”, Mr. Mansell said. He said it would only be allowed to be towed to a scrap yard and then only after extensive work to make it safe and watertight.
New Birkenhead Ferry Terminal
A new NZ$2.7 million ferry terminal at Birkenhead Point in Auckland opened on 1st August 2006, providing a smart, modern waiting area and improved services for passengers. The terminal has a maritime design, in keeping with Birkenhead’s character, and includes a café, toilets, waiting areas and a new canopy over the pontoon alongside which the ferries actually berth. The existing wharf structure has also been structurally strengthened. Ferry patrons enjoyed a free coffee as a small “thank you” for their support during the year-long construction process. To coincide with completion of the new terminal, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority has introduced improved bus feeder services from Birkenhead and Northcote on the weekends, to make it easier to catch the ferry to downtown Auckland. North Shore City’s passenger transport manager Dave Stanley says the opening is another significant step in the evolution of public transport facilities on the Shore. “We’re progressively improving bus and ferry infrastructure to the extent that public transport is becoming an acceptable travel option for more and more North Shore residents”, he said.. “The past year has been our busiest yet, with the opening of the new Park & Ride bus stations at Constellation and Albany, completion of security improvements at Stanley Bay, Northcote and Birkenhead Point wharves, and the acquisition of Devonport Wharf's ferry terminal. “It all adds up to a more enjoyable public transport experience for North Shore City residents and visitors alike.”
Council Looks into Naval Museum on Devonport Wharf
Devonport’s busy ferry terminal may become home to the country’s national naval museum, after a decision on 19th September by North Shore City Council’s strategic management committee. The Navy has already been considering a more accessible location for its twentyfour-year-old museum, which is now tucked away behind a carpark at the entrance to the Devonport naval base, in a building too small to display more than twenty per cent of its artefacts. “We have been looking at trying to bring it more into the community”, Commander David Wright, the museum’s director, said.
That has been a cue for the council, which