Historic Daldy tugboat relocated to Devonport

23 November 2020

  • Wynyard Quarter
  • News

A historic tugboat, the William C. Daldy, will be permanently relocated from Auckland’s waterfront to Devonport in November, to make way for the 36th America’s Cup.

The decision to welcome the tugboat was made by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board earlier this month.


The William C. Daldy tugboat was built in Scotland in 1935 and came to New Zealand to serve as an Auckland Harbour tug – the largest tugboat to be built for the country at the time.

The tugboat was originally located at Victoria Wharf in Devonport but was relocated to Hobson Wharf on Auckland’s waterfront in 2012.

As part of the resource consent process for America’s Cup, Auckland Council agreed to find a permanent home for the Daldy. A number of options were considered, and the preferred option was for the tugboat to return home to Victoria Wharf in Devonport.

Aidan Bennett, chair of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, welcomes the return of the Daldy. “We are thrilled to welcome back the Daldy, a true slice of Auckland’s maritime history, it’s a great fit with Devonport. We hope that the much-loved tugboat will help to attract visitors from far and wide, as this will provide real benefits for the whole community.”

The relocation is being led by the Tug William C. Daldy Preservation Society, which is dedicated to preserving the tugboat as a piece of living history.

“Auckland Council, the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board and Panuku Development Auckland have been great allies in this project. We’re excited to have achieved this excellent result,” says Ian Langley from the preservation society.

Fiona Knox, Panuku’s Priority Location Director for the waterfront, is also pleased with the decision.

“It’s been a long journey for us all over the last two years, but we are so pleased that we have manged to secure the Daldy a new permanent home. The relocation helps preserves Auckland’s maritime history which contributes to our working waterfront stories. I want to thank the W.C Daldy Society’s dedication to the vessel and for working with us to secure its future. A great result for all.”


About the William C. Daldy tugboat

The William C. Daldy (WCD) was built in Scotland in 1935 and, upon competition, steamed its way to New Zealand to serve as an Auckland Harbour tug – the largest tug to be built for the country at the time.

It is named after Captain William C. Daldy who, among his many endeavours, was Auckland’s first Harbour Board Chairman, as well as founder of the New Zealand Coastguard, the Bank of New Zealand and New Zealand Insurance. Captain Daldy took the first shipload of export cargo from Auckland to Britain in a schooner in 1845. In 1858 he was elected a member of the second parliament, becoming a Minister of the Crown that same year. As a member of Auckland City Council, he was responsible for the negotiation of the Western Springs water supply (now MOTAT) and for the formation of the Auckland Fire Brigade, of which he was captain.

The WCD’s career on the harbour spanned over 40 years until it was replaced by its namesake Daldy in 1977. Following its retirement, the boat was sold for one dollar to the Tug William C. Daldy Preservation Society (WCDPS), which subsequently restored and maintained it to commercial marine survey standards ever since.

One notable part of the boat’s history was during the construction of the Harbour Bridge in December 1958. One of the main pre-assembled sections of the bridge was caught in 40-knot winds while being manoeuvred into position, causing it to be in danger of being lost or damaged on Point Chevalier reef. The WCD was called to hold the section – which was 850 feet long and weighed 1200 tonnes – in position, which it did by maintaining a sustained pull for over 35 hours until the storm finally passed.

The WCD is believed to be the only vessel of its type still operating in the world. It is included in the World Ship Trust of London’s International Register of Historic Ships as being the last serving vessel of its type and one of less than 20 steam-powered tugs still in operation worldwide.

Currently, the WCD offers sailings and tours of the vessel. It is available for charter and conducts public sailings.