It has taken 10 months of elbow grease, lots of sandpaper and plenty of patience to restore 1920s kauri boat Manowai but it's been done - just in time for the Lake Rotoiti Classic and Wooden Boat Parade.

Dennis Walsh and his wife Cathie Waites bought Manowai two years ago from a previous owner who had started restoring the boat in a storage container at the Hampton Downs race track, where it had been for about three years.

Qualified boatbuilder Alan Craig, with Mr Walsh's help, has spent the last 10 months restoring the 32ft (9.75m) boat. On Monday at Lake Rotoiti they launched it into water for the first time in several years.

Mr Walsh said he and his wife had been looking for a classic wooden boat because they had a house on the lake and they wanted one for leisure and family time.


"There's quite a collection of wooden boats on Lake Rotoiti and it was a very classic boat with classic lines and it was in reasonable condition. We spent about three or four hours looking at it and decided we would buy it."

Mr Walsh said he didn't know who the original owner was but was trying to find out more about the boat's history.

"We think it was built in 1921 and that it is a Bailey-Lowe. We think it was from the Bay of Islands and that it carried cream cans and delivered mail. The previous owner is contacting the owner before him to see if he has any more information about it."

He said they tried to keep the boat as original as possible, even keeping its original name, although it needed a new engine so they got a 4 cylinder 40 horsepower Lombardini diesel engine which was lighter, smaller and quieter than the previous one.

Mr Walsh said he and his wife would sail Manowai in the Lake Rotoiti Classic and Wooden Boat Parade on February 6.

"It's a big relief and nice to be finished and to be able to take it out on the water. Being a kauri boat the timber has shrunk, with it being out of the water for so long, so for the first few trips it will swell and take in some water, but that's normal and all part of the process."

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