|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
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