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This website is developed from the site originally conceived developed & maintained by Marcus Castell and associates. Opinions are those of the various authors of the articles, and are not those of the NZ National Maritime Museum unless specifically noted. Information in this site has been updated to 2002 and will be progressively updated as resources allow. More information on historic ships (etc) is contained in the MARITIME INDEX website


RAPAKI 1993 - Delivery voyage to NZNMM

Rapaki, the NZNMM steam crane, is moored at the northern end of Hobson Wharf in Auckland as a static display vessel and also acts as a breakwater for the museum's marina.

Visitors to RAPAKI Engine Room

Visit by former Master
. (L) In the former coal bunker, now exhibition area and (R) in the engine room (c) NZNMM


She was built of steel at Paisley in Scotland, by Fleming & Ferguson Ltd. and was equipped with a crane constructed by Sir William Arrol & Co., the builders of the Forth Bridge.

The Fleming & Ferguson yard and engine works had gained a world-wide reputation for quality small ships and steam reciprocating machinery. On 24th December 1925 Lyttelton Harbour Board ordered the 80-ton self-propelled floating crane RAPAKI for £42,000 to meet the port's demands for a heavy lift crane.

Four months later, on the 9th of April 1926 under the Scottish delivery master, Captain H. Liddell Mack, she made her delivery voyage to New Zealand under her own steam. The voyage, which took 109 days via the Panama Canal, was an eventful one, and RAPAKI faced a number of storms and shortages of food and coal. She was believed lost for a time when she almost ran out of coal on the East Coast of the North Island, eventually limping into Gisborne. Finally RAPAKI arrived in Lyttelton on 27th July, during a strong southerly gale and high seas. After a period of maintenance, on October 14, 1926, she was ready to work.

RAPAKI spent most of her working life at Lyttelton but saw war service in Auckland, and in the Pacific. She was retired from service in 1988 and purchased by the NZNMM in 1993. Towed to Auckland by the Navy Tug ARATAKI she has since performed as a floating breakwater and static display.

RAPAKI has a unique welded Scotch Boiler but the logistics of firing her systems by coal are immense, expensive, and difficult in a central city location.

She was steamed under coal for the last time in Feb 2001. The ôLive Steam Project' commenced with work to make the machinery spaces readily accessible to the public. The propeller shafts have recently (July 2003) been disconnected and modifications to the pipe-work have commenced to enable the main engines and auxiliary machinery to be operated (under no load) using steam from a self-contained boiler powered by gas or diesel.

We acknowledge funding support for this project from the Chisholm Whitney Family Trust and advice on boilers from Eaststeel Ltd as we move to bring live steam to RAPAKI as part of our exhibition and education programmes.

RAPAKI's sister vessel, HIKITIA is maintained in an operational status in Wellington NZ. She was converted to diesel fuelled boilers in the 1980's.


Length 51.82m
Breadth 15.91m
Depth 3.69m
Draught (unladen) 1.96m
Draught (maximum) 3.46m
Tonnage (Gross) 762 tons
Tonnage (Displacement) 1415 tons
Engines Two 400 IHP vertical, 2-cylinder, direct acting steam compund
Boiler Andersons Engineering Ltd Scotch-type wet back, multi tubular, 130 psi installed 1979
Bunker Capacity (coal) 145 tons
Coal consumption
(quoted, 8 hour shift)
2-3 tons
Lifting Capacity 80 tons @ 50ft radius


Text and photographs (except RAPAKI 1993 - copyright not known) NZNMM

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