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The inaugural Auckland Wooden Boat Festival is coming to life

by Zoe Hawkins 27 Nov 2023 23:52 PST 28 November 2023
Ida (A11- 1895) to windward, and Rawene (A5- 1908) - Mahurangi Regatta - January 29, 2022 © Richard Gladwell -

From 1-3 March 2024 a festival celebrating Auckland’s maritime heritage will be held for the first time on the waterfront.

“Wooden boats are in our DNA,” says founder of the event, Tony Stevenson. “We are an island nation, connected by waterways and boats are truly integral to our way of life. Wooden boats are that connection back to our heritage.”

The inaugural Auckland Wooden Boat Festival, which is part of the Moana Auckland Festival, is organised by members of the Tino Rawa Trust and the Classic Yacht Association with the support of Tataki Unlimited, the New Zealand Maritime Museum and Eke Panuku. It will tell the story of Auckland’s maritime history from early Maori times through to today.

From its festival village in Wynyard Quarter, it will offer up timeless activities like sail making, boat building, try-sailing sessions, seminars and films, and an astounding display of more than 100 boats.

“Each of these boats has an inter-generational story to tell. They were handcrafted in a time when we still made things with our hands. Some carried across oceans some were traders serving communities up and down our coasts. They were our transport and our recreation,” says Stevenson.

Auckland has one of the largest active classic fleets in the world but until now has never had its own major wooden boat festival.

“Many of these boats are 100 years old or more. They have survived wars, depression, celebrations, anniversaries, disrepair and thankfully restoration,” says Stevenson.

“This festival is a celebration of the boats, their custodians, skilled craftsman, sailors and enthusiasts who laid the foundation of New Zealand’s maritime tradition, and the generations that followed them.”

He says the Auckland Wooden Boat Festival is also an opportunity to reflect on how far New Zealand has advanced.

“So often we are ahead of our time, in design, technology, sailing and even socially. This is a chance to showcase these historical and contemporary stories.”

The event is calling for Expressions of interest from boat owners who would like to take part.

To learn more and stay up to date with the festival development visit – or look it up on Facebook/Instagram.

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