In a surprising twist, the Kestrel could be returning to Devonport.
Local resident Sarah Bloomfield, in conjunction with friend Hugh Gladwell have formed a trust to purchase the old ferry for a nominal sum from the owners of the failed restaurant venture in Tauranga Harbour – of which the Kestrel was part. The sale is conditional upon engine inspection and finding a suitable berth here in Auckland, which is the most urgent requirement.
The owners, who are looking to wind up their business and are wanting to get shot of the old lady to avoid paying her berthage fees, had originally put her on the market for $1m.
In a passionate request to the Devonport Community Board last night, Ms Bloomfield asked for assistance from the Board in finding a safe berth for the Kestrel, preferably somewhere in the Devonport area. The Board, chaired by Mike Cohen, said it would look into the matter although it had little authority to deal with such a request, other than to pass it onto the appropriate council officials.
However, her ultimate location may need to be more sheltered waters, such as Tank Farm or Westhaven.
Ms Bloomfield mentioned she had already talked to current Auckland mayor John Banks and other senior council officials as to how and where the Kestrel could be given safe harbour, although nothing had been confirmed as yet. “It would be great to have the Kestrel in Devonport for Heritage Week, which starts early September” she said.
The Kestrel is apparently in good shape, having been well looked after by her previous owners. While they had made some changes to her internal design, these had had little impact on her overall aspect. Her engines were well preserved, and she could theoretically make the journey back to her old stomping ground under her own steam, although a survey would be required first, to ensure her seaworthiness.
Can you help? Contact The Speculator if you believe you could assist in bringing this piece of Devonport’s history back home.