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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




In the training of New Zealand seamen the name Amokura has a distinguished place. It was borne by a three-masted composite barquentine (square-rigged on foremast, fore and after on after masts) which had been built for the Royal Navy and named HMS Sparrow. She was built at Greenock and was 165 ft long, 31 ft in beam, with a displacement of 805 tons. Her engine of 720 i.h.p. gave her 13 knots. In 1906 the New Zealand Government purchased her for £800 as a training ship for seamen boys. Lads of 12 to 14 were recruited and instructed in navigation, seamanship, marine engines, and gun drill. F. A. Worsley, later of Antarctic fame, was her first captain but after a brief period he was succeeded by Captain G. E. Hooper. The ship wintered at Port Nicholson, then did two cruises in the summer chiefly under sail to the sub-Antarctic islands and to the Kermadecs. It was hoped that the boys so trained would provide a nucleus for the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy as well as being a source of recruitment for our mercantile marine. Many of the boys eventually became deck officers, and at one time a very high proportion of the New Zealand merchant marine was commanded by Amokura boys. By 1919 the seagoing life of the Amokura was over and she remained anchored in Wellington harbour. The ship was laid up in 1922 and, after being used as a coal hulk, was beached at the head of Kenepuru Sound, Marlborough.