Work is under way to restore the last remaining Solent flying boat.

Auckland's Motat wants to return the Short Solent Mark IV Aranui to its glory when it flew on the coral route through the Pacific.

The craft was one of four operated by Tasman Empire Airways Limited's (Teal) from Auckland to Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and the Cook Islands.

Teal's four Solent Mk IVs were the last big Short flying-boats to be manufactured and were built at the Short & Harland factory in Belfast in 1949.


The Aranui operated a Tasman and South Pacific service from 1949-1954 and then operated the coral route until 1960.

The Solent ambled along un-pressurised at about 220 knots - 400km/h. Passengers were always treated to fabulous scenery as the maximum cruising height was only 3000 metres and the pilot often dipped well below this restriction to take full advantage of the view below.

The other planes were cut up for scrap but ZK-AMO Aranui survived, arriving at Motat in 1966.

Parts of the interior have been restored with the help of a donation from Air New Zealand to coincide with the airline's 75th anniversary this year. Motat is raising money to complete the restoration, expected to cost $500,000.

Gala dinner

Motat is hosting a gala dinner and charity auction, Dining in the Skies, to raise funds for the restoration on December 3. Richard Foss, a California-based culinary historian will be the guest speaker. His topic will be: The Birth of the Flying Meal: A History of Food in Flight.