Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SS Toroa

When I travel North West out of Auckland to my friend J & J's house at Massey, I see this giant with with a big banner," Save the SS Toroa." Each time, I whip out my camera, my driver goes too fast for me to get a good photo.

My friend J had gone to live in New York, and I miss her very much. This post is dedicated to her.

Toroa was the last of the eight Albatross-type steam passenger ferries to be built for the Waitemata. She was built at George Niccol's yard at St. Mary’s Bay, Auckland for the Devonport Steam Ferry Company Ltd. and was launched on Tuesday 28th April, 1925. Until her retirement in 1980 she served the North Shore, mainly on the Auckland to Devonport run with Makora, carrying 20,000 or more passengers a day between them at the peak of the passenger service before the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959.

Toroa means albatross in Maori.
Legend has it that the Tora and the Kakapo had a competition who would be the leader of the land birds. The Kakapo, a land parrot won, and the poor Tora was banished to be a sea bird.


The Toroa is the only survivor in Auckland, New Zealand of the fleet of Waitemata Harbour double-ended steam ferries that used to run between Auckland City and the North Shore. She is a tangible piece of the history and development of Auckland and she is absolutely irreplaceable. Her restoration to authentic, seaworthy condition is well underway.

The Toroa Preservation Society is registered in New Zealand as an incorporated society under the Incorporated Societies Act of 1908. The Society is registered as a Charity under the Charities Act of 2005.

The primary object of the Society is “to be beneficial to the community by the restoration, preservation, maintenance and operation of the veteran steam ferry Toroa to provide a historic link to the operation of steam ferries on the Waitemata Harbour for more than one hundred years”.

Further objects are to provide during the process of restoration opportunities for training in vessel conservation principles, the restoration of timber vessels and in traditional marine engineering; When operational the Toroa will provide a range of experiences to increase the knowledge of the importance of the ferries in the development of the Auckland region, the history of marine steam propulsion, and provide training in marine engineering and ship operation.

The Toroa is owned by the New Zealand Maritime Trust, a registered charitable trust. The Toroa Preservation Society holds a perpetually renewable lease for the purposes of restoration, preservation, maintenance and operation of the vessel.

Toroa is hauled out at Selwood Road, Henderson, Waitakere City to restore her to authentic and seaworthy condition. This major restoration, beginning with the hull and the engine, is well underway and will in due course return her to the Harbour as an authentic double-ended steam ferry, preserving the history of the ferries, and presenting the story and the phenomenon of steam propulsion to new generations of Aucklanders and visitors.

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