|The Jane Gifford: History
About 130 scows used to ply New Zealand's waters, mostly as transport 'workhorses'. The Jane Gifford is the country's last remaining rigged sailing scow.
The first scow was built in 1873 at Whangateau, near Leigh, and became indispensible in New Zealand for navigating narrow tidal estuaries and creeks where the country's first communities settled. The flat-bottomed scow can rest in an upright position even when the tide is out, making it easy to load and unload freight and stock. The last scow was built in Auckland in about 1935.
The Jane Gifford was built in 1908 by Davey Darroch, at Whangateau, initially to cart granite from mines in Coromandel to Auckland. She is 19.8 metres length on deck, has a 6 metre beam and a displacement of 60 tonnes. Based in Warkworth from 1921 to about 1938 she was used to cart shell from Miranda in the Firth of Thames to the cement works on the banks of the Mahurangi River, Warkworth. For a number of years she also carted road metal from the Public Works department Quarry at Motutara Island to Warkworth, for building roads in the area. She was also used to transport stock to and from Great Barrier Island and occasionally to Little Barrier Island.
She was moved to the Tamaki River in Auckland from about 1938 in search of work and in later years was owned by Subritsky Shipping. She was acquired by the Waiuku Museum Trust in 1980 as a powered barge and taken to Waiuku on the Manukau Harbour to be restored back to sail.
She was rebuilt and launched in about 1992 and operated for about seven years until she no longer passed survey because of rot in the old deck and hull. A new macrocarpa deck had been laid over the existing kauri deck and fresh water made its way through the old deck. Together with the lack of ventilation rot developed.
In 2001 a new Jane Gifford Trust bought the vessel from the Waiuku Museum Society and moved it to Okahu Bay. Sufficient money to repair the extensive damage could not be raised so restoration work stopped. Then in 2005 a number of Warkworth residents purchased the Jane Gifford to save the near derelict vessel from 'extinction' and moved it on a house-moving trailer back to Warkworth.
See more photos in the historical gallery...