Thieves described as ''lowlifes'' have stolen a tender, complete with outboard motor, from the Northland youth training ship R Tucker Thompson.

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The Naiad rigid-hulled inflatable was taken from the back of the ship sometime between 6pm Tuesday and Wednesday morning, while it was berthed at Opua wharf.

R Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust executive trustee Jane Hindle said bolt cutters were used to cut through a chain securing it to the ship.

Hindle said the tender would be easy to spot because there were, at most, two other Naiad boats in the Bay of Islands.

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The R Tucker Thompson in action with the stolen tender on the back. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The R Tucker Thompson in action with the stolen tender on the back. Photo / Peter de Graaf

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The missing inflatable is grey with ''Naiad 3.8'' on each side and a Yamaha outboard motor.

The outboard was only 10 months old and the boat had custom-made lockers which contained life vests.

The total value was about $20,000, which the trust could ill-afford after losing some of its summer business due to the Covid-19 crisis. It was insured but the excess was still a significant sum.

''We're a charity. We take young people away to make their lives better, so this is particularly despicable. These lowlifes have stolen from kids,'' Hindle said.

She urged anyone with information about the theft to call police on 105 or Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

The non-profit R Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust operates youth development voyages for young Northlanders.