Rewa - a Long and Busy Life

Thursday, May 14, 2015
1986 Auckland Anniversary Regatta, Sea Spray photograph collection, NZ Maritime Museum (19905-6)

Visitors to the New Zealand Maritime Museum love REWA, the 37 foot gaff cutter we have on display inside the museum, and we love having her here. She had a long and busy life before finding her new home at the museum in 1992.

REWA was originally named ROSALIE. She was built in the 1880s in the Coromandel, by a retired ship's carpenter, ‘Chips’ Hunter, for a local farmer. For her frames the builder used branches from pohutukawa trees growing along the shore, and her planking was kauri milled from trees growing on nearby hills.

ROSALIE, later the cutter REWA, pre 1902, NZ Maritime Museum (9999.1003)

REWA’s career has spanned over a hundred years, and she has fulfilled many roles. The farmer she was built for put her to work transporting wool bales and supplies between his farm and Auckland. Later she carried gelignite and blasting powder from Maraetai to Auckland for the Nobel Explosives Company for 10 years. She’s been a coastal trader, a fishing vessel, a yacht and a houseboat.

REWA on the wind, July 1940, by Pendergrast, NZ Maritime Museum (1993.104.1)

REWA was eventually left abandoned and unseaworthy up the Tamaki River. 

From 1981, Liz and Dave Waters gradually and lovingly restored Rewa. Their three children grew up on Rewa, cruising around the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Islands. The Waters also raced her in the Auckland Anniversary Regatta over many years. 

When her pohutakawa frames softened with age the family realized that her sailing days were over, and in 1992 they handed Rewa over to New Zealand Maritime Museum.

Since the Maritime Museum opened visitors have admired and enjoyed climbing aboard REWA, to imagine a voyage from her deck. It has been her value to us and our visitors though that has meant we have recently closed her to the public. At over 130 years old, with over 20 years of being on dry land, she can no longer cope with the weight and movement of visitors on her deck. In order to extend her life for future visitors to see her, and to keep her safe from damage, we will finally leave her to rest.

REWA as she is today in the NZ Maritime Museum

REWA as she is today in the NZ Maritime Museum