Barbara Kendall – Rainbow Girl

Barbara in the lead in a mistral board race.  Barbara Kendall Collection,  Voyager NZ Maritime Museum [2003.215]

In a dazzling 24-year boardsailing career, Barbara Kendall became known as The Rainbow Girl – winning a medal of every hue at the pinnacle of sport, the Olympic Games. 

Greg Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell - HAWAIKI NUI

Plan of HAWAIKI-NUI / Designer Jacques Pariselle, conception Frances Cowan,  realisation Frances Cowan and Matahi Brightwell. Proceedings Waka Moana Symposium, Voyager NZ Maritime Museum [1996.132]

When Greg Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell realised a dream when his double-hulled waka HAWAIKI NUI arrived off the coast of Gisborne in 1985.The master carver had spent five years hand-crafting the traditional canoe and preparing it for an epic journey across the South Pacific – to prove that the long sea voyages portrayed in Polynesian folklore were really possible.


Russell Coutts leading the fleet at the  1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games /  photographer Bob Fisher.

When Russell Coutts drove a sleek black yacht across the finish-line off San Diego on Sunday, May 14th, 1995, a nation on the other side of the Pacific Ocean went into raptures.
With a little “Black Magic” and a whole lot of team spirit, New Zealand had won the America’s Cup – the holy grail of sailing – for the first time in the 144-year history of the world’s oldest sporting trophy.  

Mary Jane Bennett - Keeper of the Light

Mary Jane Bennett was not only dedicated to taking care of her husband and seven children. She was also committed to looking after the wellbeing of seamen rounding Pencarrow Head at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. Despite the most challenging conditions, Mary Jane was the first – and only – woman to become a lighthouse keeper in New Zealand.

Peter Burling & Blair Tuke: champions and future heroes

Tuke and Burling with silver medals  at the 2012 London Olympics

If you peered into a crystal ball at the future of New Zealand yachting, the chances are very high you would see Peter Burling and Blair Tuke sailing front and centre.

The Merchant Navy - Heroes of two World Wars

NZHTS MARAMA  WWI Markwick Collection, VNZMM

Thousands of valiant New Zealanders served in the Merchant Navy in both World Wars These seafaring civilians volunteered to serve on commercial ships that were requested or offered for war service by the governments of the Allies, helping to deliver troops, military supplies and crucial cargoes across the oceans.

Ships Cats - Unlikely Heroes

Wockle on the capstan

Mrs Chippy, Trim, Jenny and Aussie - all cats and seafaring heroes.  For centuries, felines were welcomed on board merchant and Navy ships, as pets, protectors, pest controllers and highly intuitive creatures. And the four-pawed voyagers took their roles very seriously.

Captain James Cook – Adventurer, Explorer and Seafarer.

James Cook, portrait by Nathaniel Dance-Holland,  c. 1775, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK

He might have been looking for an unknown southern continent, but what James Cook really discovered when he sighted land near modern day Gisborne was equally important. 

Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie – Olympic gold

Jo Aleh (left) and 'Polly' Powrie (right)  at the 2012 London Olympics

When Aleh and Powrie lined up at the start-line of the 2012 Olympic regatta off Weymouth, England, it had been 20 years since a New Zealand sailor had won gold at an Olympic games. That honour was held by another Auckland woman, boardsailer Barbara Kendall: “The Rainbow Girl” who had won a medal of every hue over five Olympics.

The Munich Rowing Eight

The New Zealand Rowing 8 in the 1972  Olympic Games final / Photographer Joseph Ramanos. Voyager NZ Maritime Museum

The “eights” is the glamour event of rowing regattas. When the New Zealand crew arrived in Munich for the 1972 Olympic Games, they were ranked favourites to win gold, with the 1971 world champions title under their belts.

Joseph James Craig - entrepreneurial vision

Joseph James Craig, owner of the  largest shipping and transport company  in Auckland Province.  Alexander Turnbull Library Collection

In 1885, Joseph James Craig inherited his late father’s 20-year-old general merchant and cartage contracting business. For the next 45 years, nearly every piece of cargo that arrived at the Port of Auckland was carted by a J.J. Craig horse and cart, or vehicle.

Kupe - Journey of the mind, spirit and body

'First Sighting' Wellington sculpture  commemorating Kupe's epic voyage. Michael Hall, Kupe Sites exhibition

“He ao! He ao!  Ka awatea!”

Ko Kupe , he atua, he tipua, he tangata

Abel Tasman – Aotearoa’s first Manuhiri Tuarangi

Profile of the west coast of Staete Landt (New Zealand)  discovered on 13th December 1642. Abel Janszoon Tasman's journal of his discovery of  Van Diemens Land and New Zealand in 1642. [2276]

Abel Tasman - Aotearoa’s first Manuhiri Tuarangi – visitor from the other side of the sky.

Captain Thomas Wing – Surveyor and Harbour Master

Captain Thomas Wing,  Harbourmaster and Pilot,  Manukau Harbour, Auckland Brian Byrne Collection.

When HMS Orpheus floundered at the entrance of the Manukau Harbour in 1863, with the loss of 189 lives, the career and reputation of Captain Thomas Wing and his son Edward were changed forever.  Wing Snr had accomplished a great deal before that day; he was a successful mariner, ship owner and had surveyed Tauranga, Raglan and Kaipara Harbours.  Wing Jnr had obtained his Master’s Certificate at the age of 19, even before he was d

Joseph Day – a life saver

The Sumner Beach life boat 'Rescue'

Some sections of our coastline are more dangerous than others.  The part that Joseph Day patrolled for 45 unbroken years was fraught with danger and needed an extraordinary man to watch over those who passed through. 

Sir John Logan Campbell - The Father of Auckland

When Hobson settled on building his new capital on the shore of the Waitemata, John Logan Campbell spotted the opportunity.  He and his friend William Brown knew that buying land, building parts of the new township then selling it off in sections would bring them great wealth.  Having amassed riches, Campbell didn't believe in hording it, but rather in giving back to the city.