Specialist Types Of Tug Boat > Classic Diesel Tugs

The Tika – 1971 Auckland Harbour Tug

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sea monkey:
I finished my last project 2 weeks ago and there have been no new posts on the site since then – so rather than grizzle about the lack of action (again),  I'll fill the void.

Some-one's got to do it – might as well be me.

So... no prizes for guessing where this next tug comes from.

Yes, it’s another NZ harbour tug, and this time it’s the little Tika from Auckland. 1/50, display.

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand. It has more than double the number of people than the next two cities put together – although it never seems to be able to find 15 decent players to put in its provincial rugby team. It also seems to have more than its fair share of tossers, and politicians.

It even has double the normal amount of harbours per city. It is built on a narrow ithsmus and has a harbour on each side. Greedy bastards!

The Waitemata Harbour on the east coast/Pacific/Hauraki Gulf side is the biggest and busiest port in the country, and is served by 5 or 6 tug companies. The Port of Auckland’s (POA) tugs are state of the art ASD docking tugs. I’m reluctant to admit it but their harbour is even more beautiful than my home town, and I’ve caught many good sized schnapper on it.

The Manakau Harbour on the west coast/Tasman Sea side is the 8th largest natural harbour in the world (the 7th, Kaipara Harbour, 947km2, is just up the coast). The harbour mouth is only 1800m wide, but after a 9k channel it opens up into a roughly square basin 20k across, with a water surface area of 394km2, and a 4m tide.

Many sites on the internet wrongly tout Poole (UK, a miserable 36km2 – yes – 36!), Cork (Ireland, a Poole size puddle) and Sydney (just a creek at 55km2) as the largest harbours but actually San Fransisco, Tokyo and Rio are duking it out for top spot. Depends on the difference between a harbour and a bay: Protected on 3 or 4 sides? Poole, Cork and Sydney don’t even make the top 10 in surface area.

Despite its huge size the Manakau gets very little traffic due to its shallow depth and treachorous bar – the site of NZ’s worst maritime disaster – the loss of the Orpheus in 1863, when 189 seamen died.  To reach Auckland via the safer east coast was an extra few day’s sailing from Australia so Manakau was quite busy until the Orpheus disaster. The only POA facilities on the Manakau now, are a few small wharves for servicing coastal trawlers, and the cement transporters that travel up the west coast from the cement works in Westport.  The only tug on this huge harbour was the little TIKA, which was there to handle the cement ships.

Evening sea monkey

I for one all ways look forward to seeing your work
Please keep posting  :)


sea monkey:
Thanks Jason.

Tika was built by Whangarei Engineering and Construction Ltd (WECO) in 1971 for the Auckland Harbour Board, and measures just 16.76m x 5.3m x 2.4m, has an 8 ton bollard pull, twin screws and is powered by two 365hp Caterpillar D343 TA 6 cylinder turbo-charged diesels. A pretty conventional set up considering many of WECO’s tugs from around this time were Voith drives, like the Kupe and Maui (also built in 1971). WECO built quite a few tugs during the 70s and 80s. Two of my projects have been WECO tugs: the Kupe and Te  Matua. . My next 2 projects after the Tika will also be WECO tugs: the Maui, and the Te Matua (1986), again. WECO had tugs in most NZ ports and they are what I associate with a ‘classic’ NZ tug look – especially the Kupe class. The Kupe is a personal favourite – my son got to drive it when he was 5.

WECO are still making some pretty good tugs but it’s hard to compete with the Allen/Sanmar and Damen yards.

sea monkey:
Tika served in the main Auckland port (Waitemata) until moving across to light duties on the Manakau in 2001. She had a relatively stress free working life other than one really bad afternoon in 1982. She was assisting the 1433 ton freighter Shereen move from her berth to the mid-harbour position, and was about to release the line when the Shereen started to pick up speed. The Tika’s emergency tow release failed to function and the tug was pulled over and capsized. The deckhand made it but Tika’s skipper, since she had been launched in 1971, was trapped in the wheelhouse, and drowned.

A couple of years ago the cement company got a bigger boat that couldn’t use the Manakau facilities and Tika was put out to pasture. Last year while it was waiting for sale I was able to get onboard and take lots of photos.  POA were very helpful and also gave me hull lines and GAs. Much more friendly and helpful than some of the much smaller provincial port companies.

Enjoyed the background intro...now looking forward to the build. 1971 was a good year indeed 🎂


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