Coastguard Nelson has launched a new $ 1.4 million boat, the Hohapata – Sealord Rescue, combining a state-of-the-art rescue vessel with a celebration of historic sea rescue.
The Hohapata – Sealord Rescue was launched on Saturday after a christening ceremony in which Ngāti Koata offered the name of their tūpuna, Hohapata Te Kahupuku, who helped rescue the crew and passengers from the Delaware wreck in 1863.
Coastguard Nelson President Pete Kara said the Coast Guard was “humble and proud” of what the community has accomplished.
The project from start to finish took about three years, in part because of the cost of the project.
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The Hohapata – Sealord Rescue is a state-of-the-art 11.3m Naiad, significantly larger than the predecessor vessel, Talley’s Marine Rescue, with a dedicated yard bay and a top speed of 40 knots.
“It took a lot of work and a lot of soul-searching to get this going… this thing was built with a sense of pride and mana,” Kara said.
He said the name and story behind it was one that “resonates with what our mission is, and that is to save people at sea”.
He recalled the rescue of two ten-year-old girls who had drifted 2 miles from Rabbit Island and a man who used a surfboard to chase them to help them.
“When asked what made him hang on, he just said ‘I knew you were coming.’
“The real reward, and the very reason we’re here, is to save lives.”
Sealord, the rescue vessel‘s naming rights sponsor, consulted Te Tauihu iwi to select the name.
CEO Doug Paulin said contributing to the new ship was the way to give back to Sealord, and in fact convinced the Coast Guard of their initial request for a much larger contribution.
“When they said how much they were trying to collect, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“Usually they aim for between $ 300,000 and $ 400,000.
“I can’t think of anything better to get involved, from Sealord’s perspective. Every day we send people to sea. It’s a way of giving back. “
He said that in addition to the initial donation, Sealord will provide continued support to the ship throughout its career.
Te Kahupuku’s great-grandchildren were also present at the baptism ceremony.
Ratapu Hippolite said it was “an honor and a privilege” to be there and to see his tūpuna recognized for his role in the Delaware rescue and maritime rescue history.
Great-granddaughter Nola May Campbell said the Coast Guard crew took the Te Kahupuku wairua.
“I was amazed at how much his story resonated with them… they accepted [the name] with such mana.
Ngāti Koata iwi trust president Joanie Wilson said there was “gratitude and privilege” on both sides.
“It’s amazing to have our story there, to have that direct connection and to have it recognized alongside others.”