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Mori Flapan’s exciting New Zealand finds

Mori Flapan began a discussion on his group website ‘Maritime Downunder’ about finds during his travels in New Zealand.

Mori writes – 12 April 2017:

“While touring around New Zealand I have been keeping an eye out for previously unidentified photos of James Craig / Clan Macleod.

“We visited Hokianga on the north west coast of the North Island. Clan Macleod entered Hokianga on four occasions between 1901 and 1904 to load timber for Australia.

“While at the Kohukohu library I came across what could be the holy grail. I think I have found a photo of Clan Macleod loading timber at a place called Rangiora on Hokianga Harbour.

“The photo is reproduced here, plus a close up of the ship. The photo was captioned “Elsa Craig” but there was never a vessel of this name to my knowledge.


Is this ClanMacleod loading at Rangiora in Hokianga Harbour_1901-to-1904?

“There are a number of defining features that point to the barque being Clan Macleod. In particular, the figurehead, scroll boards and their relative position to the hawse pipes, the location of the boat on the deckhouse, the donkey boiler having a location and appearance similar to the 1905 photo of Clan Macleod in Auckland, and the pole compass forward of the mizzen. In addition, there are no details in the remainder of the ship that conflict with Clan Macleod.

“Is this a photo of Clan Macleod?”
Mori Flapan

From Lindsay Rex:

“I think you are correct. A couple of rig details provide further confirmation.

“None of the other J J Craig ships, or other vessels illustrated in Jack Churchhouse’s Sailing Ships of the Tasman Sea is this ship, and the grey hull is correct for Clan Macleod during those 1901-1904 visits.

“The name “Elsa Craig” must be a memory lapse. Craigs had several ships with ladies names, but no Elsa.

“A nice find.”
Lindsay Rex


A closer view : Clan Macleod, Hokianga, New Zealand?

Mori responds:

“With no one arguing against, and with my own subsequent critical review, I am feeling pretty confident that it is a photo of Clan Macleod.

“The person I spoke with in the Kohukohu Library said that they may have a glass plate negative of the photo. He said he will check for me. If it is a glass plate, then perhaps we might be able to read a name.

“From Hokianga we travellled to Dargaville on Kaipara Harbour. Clan Macleod / James Craig called at Kaipara Harbour 11 times between 1903 and 1908. I will continue searching for photos of the Clan Macleod / James
Mori Flapan

Alan Edenborough joins the discussion:

“I wonder whether the caption gives a clue to the date of the photographs. Clan Macleod, although in J.J Craig ownership from 1900, was only renamed James Craig in 1905. The voyage records show just a single visit to Hokianga in August/September 1905. The caption, if we accept that ‘Elsa’ is a slip, uses the name ‘Craig’, which suggests the picture may relate to the 1905 visit.”
Alan Edenborough

Mori’s response:

“Thanks for the feedback. I believe the change of name to James Craig was towards the end of 1905. If I remember correctly, Jack Churchouse’s book Leonard Robertson, The Whangaroa & La Bella actually states the exact date the name was changed. But I do not have access to the book at the moment. However, the newspaper reports refer to Clan Macleod in November 1905 and James Craig in December 1905. This seems to confirm my memory.

“My notes on the movements of the barque are as follows:
– 1905/07/25 arrived at Hokianga from Wellington.
– 1905/08/01 reported Clan Macleod to be renamed James Craig.
– 1905/11/01 arrived at Wellington from Newcastle under the name Clan Macleod.
– 1905/12/27 under the name James Craig, departed Kaipara for Melbourne.
– 1906/01/09 arrived at Melbourne from Kaipara.
– 1906/02/08 reported had arrived at Newcastle from Melbourne, to load coal for New  Zealand
– 1906/02/14 cleared Newcastle for Wellington with 1020t Hetton coal.

“If correct, these notes indicate that James Craig was still named Clan
when she made her last visit to Hokianga in July 1905. The photo
should therefore be the Clan Macleod rather than James Craig, and could be
any one of the visits between 1901 and 1905. I suspect the caption to the
photo “Elsa Craig” is likely to be an error by someone who recognised a
vessel of the Craig fleet, but was struggling to remember a name.

“I have also visited the Dargaville Museum looking through their photograph collection and I came across a photo of the Marjorie Craig incorrectly captioned the “William Craig”.

“So perhaps there may be more photos out there of James Craig / Clan Macleod waiting to be discovered.

Mori Flapan

And yet another find by Mori, who writes on 16 April 2017:

Clan Macleod at Mangawhare NZ?

Clan Macleod / James Craig at Mangawhare, New Zealand?

“Yesterday and today I went to the very excellent Dargaville Museum. The people there were most helpful and the displays well worth a visit. They were interested to hear of the James Craig. I have been promoting James Craig as a piece of New Zealand history preserved at Sydney.

“Late in the afternoon today I came across what could be another photo of Clan Macleod / James Craig. It shows a barque berthed at Mangawhare which nowadays lies within the environs of Dargaville. The photo which was simply captioned “Ship at wharf” is reproduced here.

“Mangawhare was a centre for the kauri gum trade, hence the ‘Gum Shed’ on the building. The Commercial Hotel to the left still stands and the small building behind the cart also exists. A photo of the location taken today is also reproduced for comparison.


Mangawhare / Dargaville : April 2017. Compare with the ‘Ship at Wharf’ picture (Photograph: Mori Flapan)

“Just as with the earlier photograph, I would be grateful to receive feedback on whether you agree that it is James Craig / Clan Macleod. Less of the ship is visible in this photo, but the bow details are quite clear and I think correlate well with the earlier photo at Rangiora.

“What do you think?”

Mori Flapan

A reply from Michael Gregg:

“I agree, another contender. Interesting that the boot-topping is so much higher at Dargaville, but correlation of some of the fittings and ensuing staining seems consistent.

“What caught my eye were the untidiness of the yards (although cock-billing the main course yard for cargo handling is fair enough) and the looooong bow lines – to a tree stump??

“Beautifully atmospheric photo!”
Michael Gregg

Mori’s response to wind-up this discussion thread – for the moment:

“Yes, I agree that she is looking pretty scrappy. That white hull must have been very hard to maintain, especially with the old paints they used at the time. She had been painted white during the 1890s when R.W.Cameron owned the barque. J.J Craig kept the same colours for the first 7 years and then adopted a more practical painted gunport livery.

“I think the Tasman trade was pretty hard yakka with costs cut to the bone. The Craig line ships were continually on the go, and their crews were small. James Craig was sailing on the Tasman route with as few as 12 men all told, compared to the 15 to 17 when she was new.

“I suspect that the short voyages, relatively quick turnarounds and fewer crew would have meant less focus on presentation and more on keeping up with the needs of the job, especially when in a backwater port where the ship’s crew probably also loaded the timber cargo.

“I too really love this photo. It has a great character and atmosphere as you say.”
Mori Flapan


This entry was posted on 17/04/2017 by in Sydney Heritage Fleet.
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