'Taiaroa' welcomed

New tug Taiaroa shows off its manoeuvering skills, pirouetting 540deg and briefly reversing (pictured) on its way into Otago Harbour yesterday, near Taiaroa Head. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
New tug Taiaroa shows off its manoeuvering skills, pirouetting 540deg and briefly reversing (pictured) on its way into Otago Harbour yesterday, near Taiaroa Head. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Port Otago's new workhorse tug Taiaroa arrived in Port Chalmers yesterday, following a 40-day delivery voyage from Vietnam.

Taiaroa, which had to divert to Lyttelton for a week for minor engine repairs on its way from Vietnam, passed Taiaroa Head about 1.30pm yesterday and was berthed at Port Chalmers about an hour later.

The $11 million, 24.5m long, 250-tonne Taiaroa was built in Da Nang by Netherlands company Damen and is the fourth of its type now operating in New Zealand.

Taiaroa was met at the heads by its elderly predecessor, 40-year-old tug Rangi, pilot vessel Potiki and 11-year-old tug Otago.

The tug was formally greeted in the harbour by Taiaroa descendants and runanga members on tourist charter vessel Tiakina.

Port Otago senior pilot Hugh Marshall completed the Lyttelton to Port Chalmers delivery leg, saying Taiaroa had handled 4m swells and 50-knot winds off Banks Peninsula ''without a problem''.

Once berthed, Taiaroa was host to more than 30 guests, Mr Marshall said.

Representing the Taiaroa whanau were Matenga Taiaroa, Anne Robertson, Eleanor Murphy, and Edward Ellison, all Te Runanga o Otakou; and David Ellison, Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki.

Also present from Te Runanga o Otakou were Paul Karaitiana, Natalie Karaitiana and Peter Asher.

Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket said aside from the Lyttelton dry-docking for minor engine repairs, and a paint touch-up, the 40-day voyage went as planned.

He said Taiaroa now had to be registered to operate in New Zealand, then several staff trained in its operation before the two-person tug went into service, which was expected within a few weeks.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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