By SHELLEY TOPP
A new scow could soon become the flagship of the Kaiapoi River, taking over from the ill-fated MV Tuhoe.
A Kaiapoi heritage trust is being established to buy and restore the historic scow, Success, to ply the Kaiapoi River.
The project is aimed a returning something special back to Kaiapoi, which was lost last September when the MV Tuhoe ran aground at the mouth of the Waimakariri River and could not be saved.
It is hoped the scow, which will revert to its original name, the Alwin G, could soon be plying the same trade as its predecessor – carrying passengers on voyages, as a tourism attraction, taking part in special events and youth training along the Kaiapoi and Waimakariri rivers.
Trust spokesman Bruce Etwell said Kaiapoi was a historic river-port town dating back to the 1850s and the “MV Tuhoe” had played a big role promoting that.
The Success was built in 1925 as Alwin G and was in service until 2008 when she was retired and moved to Nelson, where she will be restored.
Scows were designed specifically to navigate shallow tidal rivers, estuaries and creeks near early community settlements, so the Success is perfectly suited for work along the Kaiapoi River.
The New Zealand scows were a modified version of the San Francisco Bay-Great Lakes scow schooners and initially only found around the North Island but were gradually also put to use around the Nelson bays and river ports further south such as Kaiapoi and Hokitika.
Mr Etwell said about 130 scows of similar construction to the Success once plied New Zealand’s waters “mostly as trucks of the sea”.
Scows were the backbone of New Zealand transport in the early days of development. Only three original scows remain – the “Jane Gifford”, the “Alma” and the “Success”.
The “Jane Gifford” has been beautifully restored and is a huge tourist attraction in her home port of Warkworth, north of Auckland, and the”Alma” is in private ownership under restoration.
Mr Etwell said the trust is “confident the restoration can be achieved”.
They have received an extensive report on the vessel from a marine surveyor who said the Success was a “very solid boat”.
It is in “extremely sound condition but needs a lot of superficial work”, Mr Etwell said.
The trust will be seeking funding from the NZ Lottery Grants Board and some of the other big charitable trusts, including Pub Charity, for the restoration work.
They have also received significant individual interest in the project and are hoping that will extend to businesses and the wider North Canterbury community.
Waimakariri District councillor for the Kaiapoi-Woodend ward, Al Blackie, a keen sailor and safety officer with Maritime New Zealand since the 1980s, is “cautiously optimistic” about the project.
“If the trust is able to purchase the boat, if the restoration work is done, and if the trust decides to bring it south from Nelson to Kaiapoi then I think the community would definitely embrace the idea of it having a home base on the Kaiapoi River,” he said.
“Scows should be saved because they are a big part of our marine history. We fall over backwards to save crappy old brick houses but we don’t save boats.”