Specialist Types Of Tug Boat > Classic Diesel Tugs

Hikurangi – Classic 1960s Wooden Tug

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sea monkey:
When I showed my wife my last tug model she asked the two questions we all dread:
How much did it cost? and where is it going to go?
Well, she’ll never get to know the cost of making a model – that could be a real deal breaker, it even makes my eyes water to think how much they really cost to build. But she did have a point about filling the house with model boats.
To try and slip my next project past her I would need a pretty special boat.
And I think this one will do it – it’s small enough to fit in her handbag – and cute.
In fact, when it was launched, local papers described it as ‘a handsome little vessel’ and ‘one of the finest little vessels ever built in New Zealand’.
It also ticks a few boxes for me: nice lines, wooden hull, teak deck, no winch, lots of polished timber – and it’s white! Not too many white tugs around.
Plus it has bilge keels (which I’ve never done before), canvas flying bridge and a funnel that looks like it’s come off a passenger liner. All good so far.
The Hikurangi was designed in Wellington by Athol Burns for the Gisborne Harbour Board and built in 1961 by Miller & Tonnage in Dunedin. Athol Burns designed many classic local work boats (tugs, launches and trawlers), many of which are still in service.
Gisborne is a small port on the far east of NZ and is the sort of town that you go to for summer holidays. It’s a relaxed little town with great beaches and the best weather in the country.
From these press clippings it looks like the Hikurangi had a pretty good life there – taking school kids for rides, being used as the starting point for swimming races and the odd bit of harbour work.
My version will be a 1/50 version of the boat as it was in the early 60s. At 1/50 it is only 335mm long – tiny – she’ll never notice it.

model tugman:
Oh I like the look of her very classic, do you have plans of her?

I knew Athol Burns very well and used to call on him whenever I passed through Wellington. I owned two boats that he designed and commissioned him to design a 40' motor sailer which was possibly he last ship he designed. His boats were generally very heavy construction: You would have to sail in Cook Strait to realise how tough and nasty it can be in NZ's southern waters. I was told by many that the Burns designed boats were always the last boats in and the first boats out when the going was tough.Such was the confidence the crews had in his designs.
I have attached his obituary which will sketch in some background and will post other things of interest.

sea monkey:
Yes George, she is 'a most handsome little vessel'. They don't make them like that any more.
I started out with the designer's initial sketch, which isn't exactly as built, and as usual as soon as I'd planked the hull I found out that a GA existed and I could probably get hold of it. The current owner is out of the country for a while so hopefully I can get a copy when he returns.
Russell: Great insight into Athol Burns being prone to seasickness, that may be why his boat were so solid. A few of his boats are still in the Marlborough Sounds and as solid as the day they were built. They handle the Strait weather and the Sounds' chop  very well. Do you know if the Glenmore and Toaroa mailboats were his designs?
Do you have any photos of your Burns boats?
And do you know anything about the Hikurangi?


Its great that you are interested in the designer as much as the craft itself. Many tugs are just designed in an office, the designer unknown but lucky here we can go beyond just the vessel, the designer being as interesting as the boat.

Happy to help with the photo shoot on the actual vessel, its a great vessel.



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