NZ Craneships Hikitia and Rapaki



Wellington is New Zealand's capital city and lies at the southern end of the North Island. Being right in the roaring forties, it can be a blustery old place and the inhabitants are almost proud of the weather. 

The harbour is much quieter than it used to be, traditional shipping being almost extinct, the scene is largely container ships and roro vessels. The need for heavy lifts is usually catered for by special gear on the ships themselves if not on shore. 

Wellington has a craneship -the Hikitia- a sister ship of the Rapaki which used to be in Lyttleton but is now in Auckland at the NZ Maritime Museum. She had a long useful life but was only put up for sale by the Harbour Board in 1990. Rather than see her scrapped, a local group bought her and she is available when needed. 

In 1963, the original coal fired scotch boiler was removed and replaced by a welded oil fired scotch; this in turn was replaced in 1980  by two locally made package boilers with oil firing. Their steam production is less than the original leaving her a little breathless apparently. 

Like Rapaki, she has two compounds, main engines,  single cylinder engines running the generator and condenser circulating pump. There is a Weirs airpump, double feed pump and bilge and fire pump. 

On deck, there is a windlass forward, two capstans and another windlass aft off the old steam dredge Kerimoana (which Hikitia helped to break up in 1981)  and the steering engine in the wheelhouse on deck. 

In the cranehouse, the steam comes in through the centreline and runs two twin cylinder engines which between them handle luffing of the jib, slewing, raising and lowering the hook and moving two 15 ton counterbalancing weights alongside the cranehouse. The crew worked a series of dog clutches to engage the gearing for the various actions: Labour and crew intensive! There is a control house in a prime spot well above where the engines were worked from. 

In her prime she could lift 80 tons -and still can. She did a 100-ton test lift in November 2004 to maintain her capacity 


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Maintained by Russell

Copyright Russell Ward 1999 All Rights Reserved.