Currently in Waikawa Marina, Waikawa Bay
Southern Maid today, four years into her rebuild
Southern Maid, Wellington, 1990s
The Southern Maid is a vintage motor launch built in Picton in the Queen Charlotte Sound of New Zealand in 1928. She is a classic example of the many sturdy working boats and motor launches built by Ernest Richard Lane and his men at the boatyard on The Spit between 1908 and 1946. A precious few, in various iterations and states of repair, still ply their home waters and beyond. They are relics, monuments to the halcyon days of boat building in New Zealand in the first decades of the 20th century. Little of the life and times of the industry in Picton was documented, and much anecdotal history died with the men who created it.
The likes of the Southern Maid and their stories are all that remain of the craft of Ernie Lane and the early boatbuilders who shaped a significant but almost forgotten age. Now in her 86th year, the Southern Maid is slowly being restored in the modest and practical image of her beginnings, an undertaking that began in 2010. This is her story.