Matai (1930 – 1963)

The 5th New Zealand Lighthouse Tender was named the Matai after the New Zealand native tree the Matai.

Built by R & W Hawthorn-Leslie and Co in Hebburn-on-Tyne.,19 and completed in July of 1930, a she was launched on November 6, 1930. a

Her original specifications were:

Weight: 1049 tons gross and 383 tons net register. 19

Dimensions: 1050grt, 383nrt, 219.0 x 35.1 x 13.6ft a

Engines: 2 x T3cyl (12.5, 21 & 35 x 26ins) 178nhp a

Engines by: Hawthorn Leslie & Co Ltd a

Propulsion: 2 x Screws, 11.0knots a

Speed: 13/10 knots b

Complement : 81 b

Construction: Steel a

Reg Number: 151520 a

In addition to her lighthouse duties, during the 1930’s, 15 she was used for cable laying in Cook and Foveaux Straits.19 The cable machinery fitted was the machinery removed from the Tutanekai. c The cable machinery was supplied by Johnson and Phillips and was designed and built so it could be lifted out in one piece. It consisted of two 3 ft 2½ in. diameter bow sheaves and the picking up-paying out machine was a double system driven by a twin cylinder steam engine capable of a lift of 20 tons at 1 knot. c

In January 1941 b / March 3, 1941 15 she was requisitioned by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) as an auxiliary minesweeper, and commissioned on April 1, 1941 b as HMNZS Matai Pennant No.: T01 b

Armament: 1 x 4 inch gun, 2x20mm Oerlikons, 2 Machine Guns, 40 depth charges b

She took over as flotilla leader of the 25th Minesweeping Flotilla and begun sweeping for mines in the Hauraki Gulf area. b

In March 1942 after a refit the Matai sailed with the flotilla to Suva, Fiji, where she surveyed the Nandi area and laid protective minefields. Over the next 5 months she patrolled the waters around Suva and provided antisubmarine escorts for troop transports and supply ships. She later sailed to Noumea arriving October 25, 1942 and continued with patrol duties. b

On December 12, 1942 the Matai sailed from the New Hebrides to the Solomon Islands and was to remain in the area for two and half years. In January 1943 Matai was attacked by a US bomber, fortunately without damage or injury. b

In 1944 Matai was reclassified as a transport. She decommissioned at Wellington on 25 April 1945 and was returned to her owners in 1946. b

Later the Matai served as a passenger ship between Wellington and Nelson. 19

In October 1959 the Matai become the South Island – Stewart Is ferry. c

She was sold in 1963 to the Hong Kong Shipping Company and renamed the Zetai Star. a On March 3, 1965 she was broken up. a

Additional Sources: