New Northport work-boat a boost for local boat-builder

Boaties and boat-watchers on and around Whangarei Harbour will notice a new and unusual addition to regular marine traffic. Northport has a new work-boat, an 8.5m aluminium catamaran called Manaia, built to the port’s specifications by Whangarei aluminium pontoon boat builder Blackdog Cat Boats. She was launched on 31 July at Marsden Cove Marina where she will be stored. 

Northport’s marine team will use Manaia for on-water maintenance of navigation aids from the harbour entrance to Golden Bay Cement at Portland. She will help the port maintain the Dynamic Under-Keel Clearance (DUKC) system which enables large vessels to cross the harbour entrance safely and approach the jetties and wharves at Refining NZ and Northport itself. The boat will also be used as a hydrographic survey platform and to help staff inspect and maintain other port infrastructure.

Blackdog Cat boats are designed and manufactured in Whangarei. The business was established in 2009 by owners Luke Seuren and Kevin Ogle who wanted to create a safe and robust boat suited to NZ conditions with a point of difference – a twin pontoon hull.

Manaia is the only 8.5m Blackdog Cat in existence. The company’s commercial range of boats comprises five models ranging from four to 5.5 metres but it also offers custom-made designs for commercial customers. Manaia fits into this group.

“We particularly wanted to commission Manaia locally,” said Northport chief executive Jon Moore. “Blackdog Cat has done us proud and we’d love to see the 8.5m result of our joint design process become a viable addition to its regular range of products.”

The name has strong links with Whangarei Harbour; Mount Manaia, which overlooks it, is named after a local paramount chief. And in Māori legend Manaia is a mythical being, half bird and half fish, the messenger between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits, the symbol of which is used to guard against evil. 

“We thought Manaia was a particularly appropriate name for this vessel as its work will focus predominantly on maintaining our navigation aids, which certainly do guard our marine traffic against evil,” Moore said.

About Northport

Northport, situated at Marsden Point at the mouth of Whangarei Harbour, is New Zealand’s northernmost deep-water port. It is a flexible facility catering for large, multi-purpose vessels and full cargo handling facilities are available from its 570 metre linear berth. 

Logs, woodchip and processed timber for export comprise the bulk of cargo processed by the port. Other export items include kiwifruit, dairy products, concrete railway sleepers and manufactured goods. Imports are an important part of Northport’s business and include fertiliser, gypsum, coal and palm kernel. 

The port is owned and operated by Northport Ltd, itself owned jointly and equally by Marsden Maritime Holdings Ltd and the Port of Tauranga Ltd.

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