SS TOROA - 1962 to 1984

Posted by on 20 September 2013 | Comments

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1962 May   
The berthing of large liners at the Auckland wharves could often cause the ferries problems and this day was no exception. Toroa was making her way to her berth in the ferry basin when she was caught by the wash of the tugs Aucklander and William C Daldy berthing the P&O liner Canberra.  The master lost control and the ferry was  smashed violently onto No.1 ferry tee, where she hit a pile and sheered away.  The force of the collision with the wharf was such that all windows bar one in the ferry were broken.

1963 20 February           
Approaching her berth at Auckland, Toroa was caught in the wash of two tugs berthing the liner Imperial Star and hit the wharf, smashing piles and Toroa’s stem post, bulwarks and handrail.

Passengers were quoted in the Auckland Star:  “There was a splintering crash and a heavy jolt to the ferry”.

SS Makora decommissioned and her place taken by the ferry Kestrel.  Makora was later to be broken up and buried in the St Mary’s Bay reclamation.

toroa on harbour2
Photo:  David Frith 

1976  1980
Radios to be fitted to the ferries

The installation of marine radios in the ferries was promoted after several mishaps and a ferry grounding in fog.  Under the Ministry of Transport regulations in force at the time, the Auckland Harbour and Waiheke Island ferries were not required to have marine radios fitted.

A spokesman for the Ferry Company was reported as saying that the ferries complied with all survey requirements for passenger craft and the ferries had been operating for many years without mishap.

1980 8 August
Toroas last trip to Devonport. Captain Steve Buttling, Engineer Tommy Ferguson and Mate Damon Heath. The stoker was Tom's son. 
The Captain  remarked, "Goodbye old dear, I am grateful I was your skipper".

Toroa’s marine survey certificate, her 'warrant of fitness', expires this day, and after the morning runs, she leaves Devonport to be laid up in St Mary’s Bay.

1981 March          
George Hudson takes over the ferries from North Shore Ferries Ltd. with the intention of recommissioning both Kestrel and Toroa. Toroa found to be too expensive and continues to deteriorate at St Mary’s Bay. The Harbour Board orders the hulks removed  from Freeman’s Bay with the intention of burying them in the western reclamation.

Old ferries to get the "chop"
The remaining old ferries at St Mary’s Bay including Toroa to be removed or cut up for scrap and included as land fill in the Westhaven Marina development. 

scrapped hulks at westhaven

 Photo: Toroa Collection

Ferries The Peregrine, Makora, Takapuna and the vehicular ferry Korea scrapped.  The ferries were stripped of engines and fittings, cut down to the lower deck line and sunk in the mud in St Marys Bay.  Mud was dredged and pumped into the reclamation which was to become a car park and boat ramp in the Auckland Harbour Board’s Westhaven development scheme.

unique ferry faces the chop news article sml3

Auckland Star  April 20, 1985

Fortunately an acceptable plan was put forward by the New Zealand Maritime Trust for the restoration of the Toroa. She was saved from being cut up and the Auckland Harbour Board provided a new berth for her and a watchkeeper to make regular checks.