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Baroona bites the dust

BY HANNAH NORTON
Last updated 10:00 31/07/2009
Baroona Ferry
Photo: SHANE WENZLICK

DEMOLISHED: Workmen pull apart the Baroona ferry, rebuilt on land as a pirate ship restaurant.

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Manurewa’s most famous boat has sailed off on its last voyage.

The former ferry beached on land beside Great South Rd has been demolished and the site prepared for development.

Manukau property development company Ramwall says it was forced to demolish the 136-tonne boat, known as Baroona in her seafaring days, after failing to find her a new home.

"We didn’t take the demolition of the boat lightly because we were aware of its history," says Ramwall commercial manager Jason Bishop.

The Baroona had a 105-year career as a coastal cargo ship, inter-island trader, deep-water trawler and ferry.

She did a 35-year stint as the Auckland-to-Waiheke ferry, prompting a Waiheke Island brewery to name one of its beers after her.

In 1989 businessman Keith Wagner had a dream of turning Baroona into a floating restaurant berthed permanently at an Auckland wharf.

But Ports of Auckland wouldn’t allow it and Baroona was moved from mooring to mooring while her ownership was contested.

Eventually she was condemned and taken by trailer to 888 Great South Rd to be transformed into a pirate ship restaurant called Captain Hook’s by Mr Wagner’s company Jolly Roger Restaurant Ltd.

Years and $2 million later Mr Wagner was diagnosed with a terminal illness and his finances hit the rocks.

The venture failed in 2007 just six months after it was opened and Ramwall bought the land.

Ramwall approached the Manukau City Council, the New Zealand Maritime Museum and Rainbow’s End in an attempt to save the ferry, Mr Bishop says.

It even broadcast Baroona’s plight on television and on the website TradeMe. But no one was willing fork out the $80,000 fee for moving her.

It was a commercial decision to remove the boat because to get her back to operational standards would have been uneconomic, Mr Bishop says.

"The boat was in pretty poor condition."

She was also quite different from the original Baroona as significant changes had been made turning her into a pirate ship, he says.

Ramwall Homes managed to salvage some of the timber beams from the hull and hopes to use the wood in future projects.

The vacant land where Baroona was once moored is zoned residential and Ramwall Homes is now looking at different options to develop it.

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- Manukau Courier

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