|Taking in the jib on
the New Zealand topsail schooner Huia.
Oil on board (500 x 800)mm
The Huia is perhaps the most remembered of New Zealand sailing vessels. She was a topsail schooner designed and built by James Barbour, far up the Northern Wairoa River at the head of the Kaipara Harbour at Aratapu. She was launched on 20 June 1894. Her tonnage measurement altered during her career, but when launched it was 165.89 net and 250.78 gross. Her length was 115.1 ft. (35.05m), breadth 25.2 ft. (7.68m) and depth 11.5 ft. (3.5m).
She was built for Messrs. E.Mitchelson & Brothers for the trans-Tasman trade and coastal work. In 1895 she was credited with making a very fast record passage from Newcastle to the Kaipara in four days and six hours but on arrival the weather was such that she was unable to cross the Kaipara bar. Huia had left Newcastle with 300 tons of coal, she ran most of the passage before gale force winds with the seas sweeping over her and the watch on deck forced to sit astride the furled main boom and gaff.
In 1897 an auxilliary engine was installed which greatly improved her servicability During her later career she was chartered for an attempt to salvage bullion from the wreck of the steamer Elingamite at the Three Kings Islands. In1912, Huia was purchased by the Nobel Explosives Company. She voyaged to San Francisco in 1917 and, in 1950, was finally sold to The Huia Trading Company who, unable to comply with the conditions demanded by the unions, placed her under Fijian registry. In January1951 she ran onto the Komekame Reef off New Caladonia. Attempts to get her off failed and some days later, after she had begun to break up, she caught fire and burned down to the waterline. The cause of the fire was never ascertained.
For a full history of this lovely schooner try to get hold of the Log of the Huia by Clifford Hawkins. Published by William Collins (New Zealand) Ltd. 1971.