R. Tucker Thompson

R. Tucker thompson

The R. Tucker Thompson is Tai Tokerau Northland’s own tall ship, held in a charitable trust on behalf of all Northlanders. During winter, she takes young teenagers on 7-day youth development voyages and in summer operates day sails for visitors to the Bay of Islands. She is a traditional gaff-rigged top’sl schooner started by R. Tucker Thompson in the late 1970s as a project to embody the best features of a traditional design, married to the materials of today. She was launched in 1985 in Mangawhai and has sailed round the world across Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to Japan and Korea, Canada and the United States as well throughout the Pacific. She now operates out of Opua in the Bay of Islands.

The Trust runs 7-day life changing experiences for young people aged between 13 and 18. On board a tall ship, the environment is foreign and all students are equal in their level of uncertainty. From the moment they step on board and are taken back to the era of one hundred years ago, faced with a maze of ropes and rigging, they know that they have to put their hands on this maze to sort it out. The ship is a great leveller and youth who are achieving academically work side by side with those who might be struggling at school and with a resulting low self-esteem. Often it is those very young people who are told they are underachievers that are those who more quickly grasp the kinetic challenges presented on the voyage. Indeed some take on leadership roles, acting as role models for those who struggle more with the practical tasks. On their return home, they have a new sense of self confidence, knowing that they CAN achieve if they put their minds to it.

The R. Tucker Thompson voyages focus specifically on Northland youth, including those of a lower socio-economic background that cannot easily access other programmes. We have been delivering programmes for Northland youth for the past 15 years. In 2006, the ship was transferred into a Charitable Trust with the specific purpose of greatly extending the programmes available to Northland youth. The Trust’s Mission is “Learning for Life through the Sea”.

The Trust’s goal is to offer these voyages to youth from Taitokerau Northland at a 50% subsidy. However because many taitamariki from the region can’t afford even this, we use grants and donations to support students from families who don’t have the means otherwise. To fund the organisation, we run commercial tourism products over summer and these help to fund the administrative costs.

Vessel name R Tucker Thompson – from the R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust – travelling from the Bay of Islands return
Gross tonnage 44 tonnes – approved to carry up to 49 passengers within Inshore Waters, 12 Nautical Miles of the coast from North Cape to East Cape.
Full dimensions Length: 17.8m, Beam: 4.88m, Draft: 2.6m
Year built  1985
Flag New Zealand [NZ]
Certifying authority/class Maritime NZ/passenger vessel/number 100492

R. Tucker thompson CREW

Chynna Haney

Ko Te Whanau a Apanui te Iwi

Ko Te Whanau a Rutaia te Hapu

Ko Otuwhare te Marae

Ko Rangipoua te Maunga

Ko Haparapara te Awa

Ko Mataatua te Waka

Ko Tangiwai Haney taku Mama

Ko John Craven taku Papa

Ko Chynna Haney taku ingoa


My life began in Whakatane on the 28Th of July 1996. We moved around to many places in the north island growing up- First Auckland, then back to Whakatane, Gisborne, then back to Whakatane, Eketahuna and it wasn’t until here that I finally decided what I wanted to do with my life. As a child I was very adventurous- always caught up in my imagination, we spent many days at the beach. I was very Intune with the ocean. I grew up doing surf lifesaving club, adventure racing, many other sports, and even had Moko the dolphin as a swimming companion for many years. He was a huge influence on my career path and I knew exactly where I wanted to be.

In 2014 I took an 8 week trip to Australia, volunteering at the dolphin centre in Bunbury Perth. In 2016 I completed a Marine and eco-tourism course through Northtec Kerikeri – this course taught me a lot including how to sail.

In February 2017 I became crew aboard the R Tucker Thompson. With the knowledge I have learnt from the R Tucker Thompson I have recently purchased a 33ft yacht in hopes of one day sailing it offshore.


Estelle Dixon

St Malo, France

French and English descent 

I’m Estelle, a 27 year old female. I was born in Saint Malo, Brittany, in the north of France, a city famous for its maritime heritage. I grew up on a little farm by the seaside and have always had a strong connection to the sea.

After my first job as a stewardess on a ferry. I decided to complete my sailing training. I was offered to work on a two master Brig in the Baltic sea and did my first tall ship race in 2015 from Lithuania to Poland.

Since then, I was lucky enough to find extraordinary opportunities in the Maritime industry. I trained as a sailing instructor for youth and adults, completed my deckhand certificate. Volunteered on traditional wooden refit programs, sailed the Mediterranean sea, parts of the Atlantic, the North sea, the English Channel and I’m now lucky enough to be in the South Pacific.

I am grateful to be where I am today. Being part of the R. Tucker Thompson youth program is a chance for me to really experience the culture and traditions of new Zealand. And it’s a combination of sharing what I have learned, and learning from others what I will be able to share in the future.

Jane Hindle

Ko Maiki te Maunga

Ko Piko-piko-i-whiti to moana

Ko Korareka taku Kainga noho

Ko Ngati Pākehā te Iwi

Ko Jane Hindle toku ingoa


I was brought up in England, with a New Zealand father and English mother. I spent my childhood traveling to New Zealand every few years and when my father returned after he retired, I joined him here. I lived 10 years in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, before moving to Taitokerau Northland in 2000.

I got involved with the R. Tucker Thompson in 1997 when my husband and I got married on board, then our son did a youth voyage and I started providing volunteer business support. With a background in telecommunications and IT, I took on a variety of roles, including an admin position with the ship. This provided an amazing opportunity to take part in the Sail Training America Tallship challenge events in 2002 and 2005 sailing down the West Coast of the US. Then I worked with the owner, Russell Harris to transfer the ship into a Trust in 2006. Since then I have taken on the Executive Trustee role.

I’ve overseen the development of the R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust and with our capable Trustees, the small but dedicated team together with the amazing crew over the years, we’ve seen several thousand trainees pass through their youth development programme. Her involvement with the R. Tucker Thompson has been hugely rewarding and she has greatly appreciated the opportunity to play a part in developing the ship into the role it now plays for Taitokerau Northland.

Kim Borgstrom

Ko Taumarere toku awa

I was born in Auckland but raised in the Bay of Islands and grew up by (and on) the water near Opua.

I first saw the ship when she arrived at Opua at the end of 1985, shortly after she was launched at Mangawhai and she came North to be based in the Bay of Islands for the summer. I took her lines at the dock and started on board for her first summer in the Bay.

I then took part on the ship for a world circumnavigation voyage in 1986-88 sailing from Auckland, through the Panama Canal to London, then departing Portsmouth for Australia and back to New Zealand in 1988. I was also part of the crew when the R. Tucker Thompson visited Gisborne in 1990.

I have sailed as master or mate on a number of sailing ships throughout the Pacific and run my own sailboat chartering business in Opua.

I joined the board of the R Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust at its inception in 2006 and feel privileged to have witnessed the Trust’s youth development programme grow to become an important asset for our region – Taitokerau Northland.

Magnus O'Grady

 I am an energetic and passionate person with a great love of the outdoors. I have been travelling from a very young age, mostly on board my father’s yacht and more recently on board the yachts that I have worked on. I love wilderness areas and like nothing better than knowing I am a long way from anywhere. My hobbies and passions include Skiing, White- water Kayaking, Sea Kayaking, Ocean cruising, Tramping and pretty much any good outdoor activity I can bite my teeth into or get the opportunity to try.

My father launched his yacht Balaena, a 42ft Gaff Cutter a few months after I was born. I have largely grown up aboard her, sailing her in Patagonia, Antarctic, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Pacific. After studying in Christchurch for three years, I sailed her to the Antarctic and a year later across the Pacific from Chile to NZ.

After this first trip to the Antarctic I continued to return to South America and spent the next 8 summers working on two different yachts making many trips in the Antarctic, Patagonia and South Georgia. All Supporting Film Projects, Scientific work and expedition teams.

In many of the winter periods I have continued to sail Balanea around NZ and the Western Pacific. Taking her from NZ through Vanuatu, Solomon islands, Papua New Guinea, Northern Australia and Indonesia. More recently I took her from Columbia to the Azores a 3000nm trans-Atlantic trip.


Maxwell Apaiau Cumming

I grew up around the sea in Australia’s Port Philip Bay and Aotearoa NZ’s Bay of Islands. Variously I’ve worked as a pearl shell diver, hapuka fisherman, boat builder and sailor where I worked up from being master of a 3m clinker Frostbite dinghy up to a 90m three masted schooner ‘Athena’.

Along the way I graced the Tucker’s decks as an eager young Bosun, did an epic 5 month voyage around the Pacific Islands as Mate and eventually captained the mighty wee ship in her home waters. Much of the past 30 years I have plied my trade and the seven seas aboard superyachts, both sail and power, visiting everywhere from Antarctica to Greenland.

I spent his teen years in the remote northern Cook Islands and Polynesia has been in my soul ever since. When not roaming the oceans Max still sneaks off to Rarotonga to see my island princess vahine Ra!

I enjoy waka ama, broad reaching, mountain climbing, Pacific history and doing manu off the local wharf.

Terry Dunn

 I grew up in Wellington and learnt to sail as a child around the harbour and into Cook strait, it wasa good learning round if you appreciate strong winds!

I spent my formative years in Sea Scouts rowing around on pitch black nights playing Smugglers and sinking the enemy, the blissful days before “Risk management and accountability” and havenever lost the love of just “playing around in boats”. Did my first offshore race when I was 19 and it was the start of a passion for many more offshore races and cruises to follow.

I moved to the Bay of Islands when I was about 22 and purchased the classic gaff cutter Aorere. It was also the start of many years cruising the Bay of Islands and Northland coast with voyages to Auckland to race against the other classics and included sailing Aorere built in 1892 up to the Pacific for a winter cruise.

I started Great Escape Yacht Charters and Sailing School in around 1990 with the idea of offering sailing adventures to New Zealanders and foreign tourists at a more affordable rate. We grew to a fleet of 14 yachts and hopefully over 24 years successfully passed on my enthusiasm and love for sailing and seamanship to many hundreds of people.

During a similar time, along with my passion for snow skiing and the mountains I took on the management of Tukino Ski Area, a small ski field on Mt Ruapehu that offers something different than the large commercial ski areas.

I married my lovely Canadian partner Cindy in 2007 and soon after that we sold Great Escape and I joined the enthusiastic team at the R Tucker Thompson. As relief skipper, it’s my pleasure to pass on my passion of sailing and the Bay of Islands to the summer guests and over winter

Tiahorangi Morgan-Edmonds

Ko Pukeone

Ko Tuao Wharepapa nga maunga

Ko Motueka te awa

Ko Te Awhina te marae

Ko Turangapeke te wharenui

Ko Ngati Rarua Ko Te Ati Awa nga iwi


I was born and raised in Ruakaka, a small town on the east coast roughly thirty minutes south of Whangarei. I am of Maori heritage and a descent from the tribes of Ngapuhi, Ngati Rarua and Ngatiwai. Throughout my childhood I have always been raised around the water, the two houses my family have lived in during my life the ocean was no more than 20 meters through our backyard. I learnt to swim at a very young age and I competed as a competitive New Zealand swimmer up to the age of 14.


In 2016 I was a student at Huanui college. Through the school I first stepped on the R. Tucker. Thompson for a one-week youth training programme. From the unforgettable experience of that week I fell in love with sailing and the life style, because of this I applied and was accepted to sail on two more voyages throughout that year.


During the summer of 2017-2018 I volunteered to help as crew for a weekend every fortnight. At the end of that summer season I was given the Tucker Lewis Volunteers Trophy of 2018, and not long following after I was offered the position of Cadet which I was honoured to accept.

Tim Grant

Ko Tim toku ingoa

No Kororareka toku kainga

Ko Roy Grant toku papa

Ko Claudia Lindauer toku mama

Ko Ngaiotonga toku maunga

Ko Waikare toku awa Ko Ipipiri toku moana

Ko R.Tucker Thompson te mahi I tenei ra

Kia ora mai tatou


I’m a dinghy sailor, surfer, sea scouter, foredeck keeler, Spirit of Adventure, class racer, Hydrographer, father, oyster farmer, harbour boarder, conservator, environmental pest controller, kiwi surveyor, ocean racer, Auckland Island expeditioner in the sub-Antarctica, ferry driver, pohutukawa protector, charter skipper, Tall Ship Master, island counter, plastic picka uppera, birdman challenger, 1080 debater,         and a poet.

Translation, Russell is my turangawaewae, Russell Primary School (with Max Cumming), Bay of Islands College, towards the end doing a voyage on the Spirit of Adventure, before joining the Royal New Zealand Navy, serving four years in the Hydrographic Division surveying some of which Lieutenant James Cook early work. A Whangarei to Noumea yacht race before becoming a father to Sally, Ted and Georgia. Many Auckland to Russell Coastal Classics, joining Department of Conservation in the inaugural year 1987. Protecting native species became my main work with a five week expedition to survey and track Auckland Island Teal. As a Pest Controller I’ve worked from Whangarei Heads in the south to Omahuta, Waipoua to Russell Forests which I still do.

Since joining the R.Tucker Thompson in 2014 I’ve enjoyed firstly sailing a Tall Ship, learning the lines from some great Tall Ship sailors. Then sharing the experience and the Bay each summer with tourists and in winter stimulating the youth of Tai Tokerau into all that is the experience of a week aboard the Tucker. Old school, no fool, becoming an educator as was his Grandfather. As a descendant of Gottfried Lindauer my most rewarding times are meeting ancestors of people he painted, and I’m really looking forward to voyaging to Turanga a nui a kiwa to meet more.

Wayne Karauria

Ko Marotiri, ko Toiroa nga maunga

Ko Waiotu, ko Mangahauini, ko Waitakeo nga awa

Ko Tuatini me Te Ariuru nga marae

Ko Te-Whanau-a-Ruataupare me Te-Whanau-a-Te-Aotawarirangi nga hapu, nga whanau e rua

Ko taku hau kaenga, Ko te akau o Tokomaru

He uri au o te Tairawhiti, o Ngati Porou whanui

Ko Wayne Karauria taku ingoa

I was born in Gizzy June 1991, spent my early childhood living in Owetia up the back blocks of Tokomaru before relocating to Tutira (Hawke’s Bay). During these years my passion for hunting and gathering was created and nurtured, spending my weekend’s ether camping at the beach, diving or fishing. If the weather wasn’t ideal for that we would head bush hunting pigs, deer and the occasional tuna and trout. My high school years weren’t so eventful being a seven day boarder at Hato Paora College, but it did enhance and stimulate my mind academically and strengthened my cultural identity. In my final year of kura I wasn’t sure what kind of career I envisioned myself doing so my Dad gave me an ultimatum “bei you ether become a farmer (like him) or go fishing” .it was then I chose to live a life on the sea. My maiden voyage was aboard a deep sea trawler working the Chatham rise in 2009 as a green horn deckie eventually working up the ranks of deck boss. It was these years that cemented my passion for aquatic adventure and enthusiasm for the ocean, enjoying the physical and mental challenges of working in a sometimes hostile and unpredictable environment.

In 2011 my son was born which made it increasingly difficult to continue going to sea for months at a time, which in turn led me to the good ship R Tucker Thompson in 2012 where I have been immersed in tall ship sailing and youth voyaging. It’s a unique ship as it has two roles in life being a not for profit organisation. To gather revenue it does tourism day sails throughout the summer, when tourism slows down it switches to youth voyaging taking out twelve youth throughout te Taitokerau for a week teaching them how to sail, how to navigate and other relevant life lessons involved with the safety and running of a Tall Ship.

I first started as a deckhand then as chief 1st mate and now I am the 1st Māori Master in the ship’s history.

No reira tena koutou katoa.


social media links