Students transforming old boat


Kapiti College student Luke Ferriera, left, with teachers Martin Vieregg, centre, and Clive Stephenson beside the Rakino.
Kapiti College student Luke Ferriera, left, with teachers Martin Vieregg, centre, and Clive Stephenson beside the Rakino.

An historic nine metre boat has found a new temporary home at Kapiti College where it is being transformed by students as part of an educational restoration project.

The Rakino, a kauri hull boat with teak decking, was originally designed and built by Aucklander Bert Woollacott, and launched in 1953.

Last year, it was found run down and wedged on rocks in Evans Bay, its mooring lost and the then-owner unable to cover salvage costs.

Claimed by the town's council and placed on Trade Me, the boat was purchased by Kapiti College last December, before being picked up using a crane and transported to the college grounds.

Now, resting on a steel cradle, the vessel is receiving some much needed care from 89 dedicated students known as the Rakino Pirates.

Meeting every Wednesday at lunch and after school to work on the boat, the Rakino Pirates aim to repair a large hole in the deck, strip the hull and replace broken kauri timber.

"We have assigned different roles within the club, such as port, starboard, decks, masts and hull," Kapiti College teacher and project co-creator Martin Vieregg said.

Mr Vieregg, who has spent most of his life sailing, initiated the project alongside fellow Kapiti College teacher Clive Stephenson, whose own sailing experience included a trip 55,000 miles off shore.

"Some decking is rotten and will need replacing too.

"At this stage we are still cleaning and emptying the boat out and have begun sanding the masts and booms, and hope to have the masts sanded and varnished soon."

To get the six-person boat sea worthy, the Rakino Pirates are fundraising $10,000 through a public Givealittle page.

Mr Vieregg said, because the Rakino Pirates is a club within the school, the bulk of the funding would come from the group's own money raising efforts.

Fundraising was set to cover the purchasing of tools, safety equipment and materials including paint, and the eventual replacement of rigging, electronics and navigation on the boat.

"We will most likely at some stage need to pay for contractors to help with some more technical parts, and eventually a crane and truck to return it to the water."

Thanks to Kapiti Coast District Council, the group had secured a Think Big grant after year 12 student and group captain Luke Ferriera applied and impressed with "his ambition and passion with this project".

Mr Vieregg said he and Mr Stephenson hoped to offer unit standards as part of the project, which would allow them to apply for the Ministry of Education's Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) funding.

"I imagine how immensely proud we will be as teachers and a school when we launch the Rakino again, and see the smiles on the faces of the students whose sweat and tears went into restoring it.

"It's good for them to get involved with a real project that they can touch, see and feel."

As part of the initiative, students were being encouraged to read sailing books and develop an appreciation for hand-crafted boats, as well as the history of sailing in New Zealand.

Furthermore, the group had agreed to document the process through video, which they planned to edit into a feature length documentary for public viewing.

Kapiti College photography students also captured the state of the boat upon its arrival, which was scattered with hints of the previous owners' life.

"Hopefully a documentary will showcase our journey and demonstrate the different ways we all learnt and worked together to create something amazing," said Mr Vieregg, who spent about two years at sea on prawn trawlers and sailing boats in New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands.

He encouraged the community to get on board with the unique project.

"We hope to have a working bee one Saturday each month, where the public can come along, even if it's just for moral support or providing sandwiches to hungry pirates," he said.

"They're still too young for their daily rum rations."

- To make a donation, visit the Rakino Pirates' Givealittle page or email for more information.

- Kapiti News

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