The Royal Navy was no doubt relieved to have such a white elephant off its books...
decks for her future complement of 60 boys and 12 adult officers, engineers and instructors.
Almost all of the 527 cadets who completed the 18-month cadetship aboard her over the next 14 years were destined to become sailors aboard merchant vessels (only 25 were to join the navy). And a thorough grounding it was.
The discipline was man-o-war style, training these youngsters in sail-handling, all-round seamanship, engine-room skills, signalling, gunnery and small-boat sailing. Every year during early summer Amokura would do the rounds of New Zealand’s sub-antarctic islands, servicing the cast-away depots and remote lighthouses, largely under sail.
It must have been a tough exercise in toughening-up for these boys who these days would be barely out of intermediate school. Captain Hooper has been lauded as a “liberal master, showing tactfulness and understanding in dealing with the youths under his control.” However, reading the accounts of lads like Barbara’s greatuncle Albert, the ship’s discipline would these days be considered pretty tough:
“The instructors all carried switches or wands with them. You stepped out of line in any way at all, cheeky or
ABOVE She even appeared on postcards of the era.
FAR LEFT She spent years moored at Queen’s Wharf, storing coal from the Westport mines.