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Donald McInnis
1st September 1863 at Mangawhai
53ft "from the fore part of the stem under the bowsprit to the aft side of the head of the stern post" Certificate of survey 7th Oct 1863
16.6ft "Main breadth to outside of plank", Certificate of survey 1863
6.8ft "depth in hold from Tonnage Deck to Ceiling of Midship", certificate of survey, 7th Oct 1863
31.14 tons "Tonnage under Tonnage Deck" certificate of survey, 7th Oct 1863.
Gaff schooner
Owner History
Sept 1863 - 1864
John Matheson and John Rattray
1864 - 1865
David Kirkwood


The Daring is a carvel planked schooner built in Mangawhai in 1863 by the young Scottish boat builder Donald McInnes. She was launched for owners John Matheson and John Rattray on 1st September 1863 and moved to the Kaipara Harbour where she operated as a trader along the West Coast ports of the middle North Island. The original owners sold the Daring to David Kirkwood in early 1864. On the 1st of June 1864 the Daring stranded on the south side of the bar at Waikato Heads. She was reported to be a total wreck, but insurance of 500 pound enabled subsequent repair and re-floating. On 21st February 1865 the Daring was aground again in a controlled beaching after being caught in a strong wind on a lee shore. The skipper considered this the better option rather than risking loss of boat and life on the Kaipara Bar. It was this controlled beaching under anchors that has allowed the boat to be preserved in original state and makes her the most complete vessel of the time with many build features that vanished soon after when the coastal vessels changed to the popular flat bottomed scows. Relaunching into a constant surf over following days proved fruitless and the uninsured Daring was abandoned, in tact on the beach, on 9th March 1865. Presumably cargo, masts, spars, sails and light equipment were removed and reused. The boat became buried under the sand dunes where it appears to have remained covered until becoming exposed by receding sand dunes in early May 2018. On first emerging the boat appeared to be fully intact, however over subsequent months most of the decking timber has been removed and some of the beams, including the registration beam, have been souvenired by local beach goers or washed away by the relentless waves at each high tide.


The cutter rigged schooner sail plan was common for coastal trading vessels of the time and allowed for a large number of smalls sails to be easily hoisted or lowered by a small crew to meet varying conditions and manouvering needs. The Daring was a beamy vessel at 16ft 6in which allowed for large cargo capacity providing good returns for the owner. The Lute stern was also a common design of the era for breaking up following seas.


The quality of craftsmanship in the Daring is stunning. The lay and set of her 2 inch planking is as good as any superbly built wooden boat of the later years of wooden boat building. The inner edges of her covering boards are beautifully scribed the full length of her decks as well as her bulwark framing. The deck and interesting the upper planks were pitched. All joins in her timberwork were done very precisely with an array of techniques for various parts of the ship. Most of her planks are fastened with trenail or trunnel fastenings which is why she has held together so well. Some planking areas and decking are spiked onto the frames with iron dumps. the windlass has been beautifully crafted and was operated by hand with wooden spike handles. The hull was sheathed in Muntz metal to protect from the invasion of marine growth. Sawn planks and timbers have been adzed to shape to fit perfectly in position.

The recovery Process

A Community group, Daring Rescue", was formed in August 2018 with the ambitious view of salvaging the vessel from the beach and transporting her to storage where a preservation process could be followed prior to ultimately public display for the long term. Interest in the Daring has quickly grown throughout the wider community with interest ranging from the fact that this is likely the oldest virtually complete New Zealand built vessel, to the interest in the build techniques, builders and owner history.

The process to complete the preservation project has been complicated and due to the location of the vessel involves many parties. The initial challenge has been ensuring that the Daring remains as in tact as possible. Security firm Black Hawk Security has provided 24/7 security to protect the vessel from wave action (many ropes now hold the timbers together), souvenir hunters and recently a dead whale washing ashore. The Daring wreck lies within within the New Zealand Defence Force Kaipara Air Weapons range which is out of bounds at all times. Despite this many people have travelled into the Defence Force zone illegally to view the vessel. The land in the area is owned by the local Iwi Ngati Whatua o Kaipara and part is cropped by Hancock Forest Management. The Daring Rescue group are seeking approval from the Iwi, Defence Force, and Forestry Company for access to the boat via forestry roads, dunes and beach.


Archaeological interest

The Daring is of significant archaelogical interest due to its importance in New Zeland boat building and coastal shipping history and it's in tact condition. The Daring was built 6 years prior to the Cutty Sark. Heritage New Zealand a keen interest in and has been documenting the vessel through observation, photography, laser scanning and sampling to identify timbers used in the construction. Heritage NZ have supported Daring Rescue in working through the process of gaining approval to lift shift and preserve. This has involved developing an excavation and transportplan, obtaining professional conservator (HPFS Solutions) assessment and recommendations for treatment of the timbers and metals and appointing an archeologist to assist in uncovering the hull contents, monitoring the excavation process, recording and documenting observations. 

The cost of preserving our boating history

Preserving our history does not come without major expense. Costs include the 24/7 security at the site, hire of heavy machinery and transport to carry out the excavation, archaeologist and conservator expenses, preservation treatment, temporary housing, and ultimately construction of and transport to a final resting place for public display. Several key community members have come forward to assist with part of this cost and Daring Rescue have set up a give a little page to give the wider community an opportunity to contribute to ensuring this recovery is a success. 

Community members can assist with this project through direct donation to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust or through the Daring Rescue give a little page. 

Media Interest

Media interest has been high with several articles published in the Herald, Stuff, Professional Skipper and local newspapers.

Television New Zealand is working with Daring Recue and filming all steps of the recovery and researching history for a documentary to be aired next year. 

Some Background to boat builder Donald McInnes

Donald is a descendant of the migration to New Zealand from Nova Scotia.  Born about 1836 he arrived in NZ with his widowed mother Flora (nee Shaw) and his 5 siblings on the "Breadalbane" in1858. His father was John McInnes.

Apparently the family stayed in Auckland, but Donald remained at Mangawhai for some years building boats, including the "Daring". He had built the schooners  "Abeona" and the "Three Brothers" in conjunction with Capt D.H.McKenzie prior to that (1861 - 1862). He married Mary Haswell in 1867 - her family had arrived on another of the Nova Scotian migration ships (Gertrude) in 1856.


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