Cel­e­brate the art of boat-build­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

There’s a rea­son why Auck­land is called the City of Sails, and Baden Pas­coe is ready to cel­e­brate it.

Mar­itime his­tory is the fo­cus of this year’s Auck­land Her­itage Fes­ti­val which kicks off to­mor­row and runs un­til Oc­to­ber 13.

Mr Pas­coe, 56, has been study­ing the Percy Vos boat­yard – the last re­main­ing wooden boat­yard on Auck­land’s wa­ter­front – for 30 years.

He says boat­build­ing in New Zealand has come from a suc­ces­sion of greats, lead­ing to the coun­try’s sta­tus on the world stage.

‘‘You wouldn’t see Team New Zealand, com­ing from a lit­tle coun­try, be­ing able to com­pete against su­per­pow­ers like Or­a­cle if we didn’t have that his­tory.

‘‘It’s the other end of the scale to what Percy Vos was do­ing, but it’s all got to start some­where.’’

Mr Pas­coe has writ­ten Launch­ing Dreams, fo­cus­ing on the boat­yard’s his­tory from 1922 and the wide range of boats built, from dinghies to lux­ury yachts, fish­ing boats and the car ferry Korea.

The boat­yard moved from Pier 21 to the Viaduct’s Hamer St in 1937 to ac­com­mo­date larger boat­build­ing.

Mr Pas­coe and the Percy Vos Char­i­ta­ble Trust aim to res­tore the Hamer St boat­yard within five years to once again be­come part of Auck­land’s vi­brant wa­ter­front.

Vis­i­tors will be able to see dis­plays of boat build­ing and restora­tion at the yard, he says.

‘‘Have you ever watched the clos­ing cer­e­mony in the Olympics with the lynch-pin ath­lete car­ry­ing the torch home on its fi­nal legs?

‘‘That was Percy Vos. As he came to the end of his life so did the wooden boat­build­ing in­dus­try,’’ Mr Pas­coe says.

‘‘We hope to res­tore it back to a her­itage char­ac­ter.’’

Mr Pas­coe grew up sur­rounded by boats. His fa­ther was a New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive yachts­man and car­pen­ter who was req­ui­si­tioned to the Vos boat­yard dur­ing WWII in 1942.

Mr Pas­coe says the his­tory of Auck­land is based around the wa­ter.

‘‘We want to keep our city unique as a mar­itime city.

‘‘If we lose that then we’ll lose our iden­tity,’’ he says.

Wa­ter­front Auck­land gen­eral man­ager of strat­egy Stephen Rain­bow says the or­gan­i­sa­tion fo­cuses on in­cor­po­rat­ing her­itage into the de­sign of the wa­ter­front.

Wa­ter­front Auck­land man­ages the Percy Vos boat­yard, which is owned by Auck­land Coun­cil, and sup­ports the trust’s pro­posed restora­tion.

‘‘Apart from the fact that it is a fas­ci­nat­ing piece of our her­itage, it could be ar­gued that this is the birth­place of the New Zealand marine in­dus­try.

‘‘With the Amer­ica’s Cup what we see is how im­por­tant that is to New Zealand and how unique our skills are.’’

His­toric: The Percy Vos boat­yard on its orig­i­nal site at Pier 21.

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