The Wanganui Up-River Settlers Company was established in 1900. When it came into operations, it was a direct competitor with the Hattricks & Co. The company launched its flagship steamer, the PS Aotea in 1900, built by Yarrow & Co, London. Sadly by 1902, the company ceased to exist as it underwent liquidation. In the process, it had to sell the PS Aotea to Hattricks & Co. Hattricks did rename the Aotea as Waimarie. This means “Good Fortune” in Maori language. It was a paddle steamer, and remained largely so.
Just like many other boats, the Waimarie also fell out of shape. As such, it registered declining use overtime. The boat experienced a number of faults – notable amongst which was its boiler wearing out. This led to it being taken out of service in 1949. We have to note that the Waimarie had quite a long “career” before this happened, especially when compared to other boats then.
It was moored at the Hattricks Wharf, and was largely unused and therefore, abandoned. Gradually water filled the Waimarie, and in 1952, it eventually sank. The boat’s superstructure was removed while the rest of its remains were left to rot in the mud. Since then, there was no interest or activity regarding the Waimarie until much later in the century.
The early 1990s brought back renewed interest in the boat. In fact, in demonstration of the interests, an entire company, the Whanganui Riverboat Restoration & Navigation Trust, was established to see the restoration of the Waimarie to its former glory and make it into a potential tourist attraction, considering the history behind the boat. The company dug the boat out of the mud in 1993, and by 1999, it had been re-launched. The newly remodelled Waimarie was back in operation by 2001 with improved engineering capabilities.
The Waimarie could best be described as a “super-boat” as at the time of production. A lot of thought was put into making the ship large, strong and above all, durable.
For one, it was magnanimous in size. The length at production measured a whopping 100ft, bordered by an incredible beam measuring 16ft. At the time, these specifications could make it pass for an incredibly large boat. The size was not everything there was to the Waimarie. There was also strength. The boat weighed an astonishing 91 gross tons as at the time of production.
Furthermore, the Waimarie is quite durable for a large boat. For one, it was left unused for a long period of time; even more, it sank. It was expected that it would have undergone major deterioration beyond restoration during these times, but that is not the case. A good number of the original materials that could be salvaged made their way into the new Waimarie.