Rona is currently owned by the Rona Preservation Trust but will soon transfer to a charitable trust based in Auckland. Rona has recently been transported to Auckland where she is currently stored at boat builder Peter Brookes' yard pending scoping, costing and funding of works required to bring her back to prime condition.
Designed by George Lennox Watson she was built for Wellington Merchant and book collector Alexander Turnbull. Rona was built in Auckland by Robert Logan Snr as a six-beam cutter (beam fitted six times within her length) in late 1892 and launched early January 1893. Her first major regatta was the 1893 Auckland Regatta which she won (twice after having to resail due to the first event being completed after dark without the judges present), collecting 40pound first prize money, before setting sail for Wellington on the 9th February 1893 (arriving 21st February). Skipper for the delivery trip to Wellington was Captain Butts who left Wellington for Auckland on 24th January 1893 (arriving Auckland on the 26th) on the SS Te Kapo. Boat builder Robert Logan was also on board for the delivery trip to Wellington. In 1895 Rona proved her prowess by winning the Wellington Regatta and continued to feature in the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club racing results up until the 1960's. Her construction of triple skinned kauri timber is the reason Rona, and a small number of other yachts of her era, remain afloat today providing an important active on water understanding of New Zealands coastal shipping and yacht racing history.
Rona was originally painted black and was restored to this livery in 1911. She has had several configurations including raised cabin and bermudan rig. The thorough 8 year restoration completed by John Palmer brought her back to her original (and current) configuration.
Rona is one of the most important vessels of New Zealands yacht racing history. Her original owner Alexander Turnbull bequeathed his collection of books to New Zealand on his death in 1918. The Alexander Turnbull Library opened in 1920 and remains today as a part of the National Library of New Zealand. Rona is also the oldest continuously registered ship in New Zealand.
Recognising the importance of Rona to New Zealand history the Rona Preservation Trust was set up to purchase Rona in November 2006 with the assistance of grants from the Lotteries Foundation others. Rona was made accessible to the community through sailing events, maintenance and training days and public open days.