A stately riverboat or paddle steamer could become a common sight on the Mahurangi River if an idea put forward by a retired naval architect and boatbuilder comes to fruition.
Bevan Lawrence, of Mangawhai, grew up on the riverboats of Whanganui and has spent his life designing, building and skippering boats of one sort or another. Now, he thinks Warkworth and its river would be the perfect spot for a purpose-built vessel along the lines of Rotorua’s Lakeland Queen, and he is asking for anyone who is interested to join him in starting a dialogue and setting up a working group.
“I would like to propose the building of a Queen of Mahurangi,” he says. “It would be a fabulous way to bring tourists into Warkworth, a major drawcard.”
He has in mind a two-storey, fully enclosed riverboat that could host sightseeing and dinner cruises, as well as weddings and private functions, and in all weathers.
“It would be as authentic as possible with modern innovations,” he says. “It’s got to be purpose built.
But it doesn’t have to be that expensive necessarily. I’m hoping we could build it at a sensible price, though I can’t price it out yet, because I don’t know the size and what people might want.”
Bevan says his idea was prompted by the news that the long-awaited dredging of the Mahurangi was now underway.
“This would give them another reason to dredge; there’s more encouragement if there’s a purpose. I’m not living in the immediate area, I just think it’s a damn good idea. It’s something that needs to happen and it I’d definitely contribute an awful lot to it.”
Bevan has spent his career in the marine industry, designing and building luxury yachts, lecturing in transport design at Massey University, and building and restoring wooden boats in his spare time.
“I’ve been designing and building boats all my life, and I’m a qualified skipper as well,” he says. “I’m old enough and long enough in the tooth to have managed a lot of projects, so I’ve got all the practical background. And I’ve always loved things that are a little bit quirky.”
Anyone who is interested in finding out more and pursuing the idea should contact Bevan at firstname.lastname@example.org or text their details to 027 617 6521.