Sunday 24 January 2016

TAWAKA the Grey Duck.

Pre World War Two there had been six DH89's on the NZ Civil Register - five of these were duly impressed into RNZAF service from late 1939 with only one surviving to become ZK-AHS post war.
Nine additional aircraft were received from Royal Air Force orders.
These nine airframes were "Brush" built. ie they were manufactured by the Brush Electrical Engineering Company Ltd at their Falcon Works at Loughborough in Leicestershire. 
Brush built 355 new DH89 Dominie aircraft as well as being a major repairs depot.
    I believe that these aircraft were then towed over to the Loughborough Airfield for final assembly and test flown.
These nine aircraft were delivered to the RAF 76 maintenance Unit at Wroughton  before shipping out to NZ.
Interestingly all nine survived the war to join the NZ register as ZK-AKS, AKT, AKU, AKY, ALB, ALC, BAU, BBP and BCP.
C/n 6662 was noted at 76MU in September of 1943 and was shipped out aboard the Glen Line SS Glenbeg reaching Auckland on 21-11-1943.
It was assembled at No1 Aircraft Depot and bought on RNZAF charge on 22-11-1943 as NZ528 with Unit 36 at Hobsonville and then to 42 Squadron at Rongotai. 
Below is a view of NZ528 outside the Wellington Aero Club in camouflage markings.
Post WWII this airframe became ZK-AKU on 30-08-1946 with the New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NZNAC or just plain NAC) and was named Tawaka  (Grey Duck). 
Below is ZK-AKU at Wellington in 1949 from the Ed Coates collection.
And then again in 1953 - Also from Ed Coates.
It appears to have spent much of its NAC life operating the Auckland - Northland service until being withdrawn in December of 1962.
It was delivered to Nelson on 19-05-1963 and registered to the Nelson Aero Club on 24-05-1963 followed by a move down to Christchurch to Patchett Tours Ltd from 02-11-1965.
On 15-09-1966 it was listed to the Rotorua Aero Club/Rotorua Air Charter 
Two views of ZK-AKU at Rotorua on 10-01-1967.
Below. Later that same year in Rotorua Aerial Charter markings.
Then followed sale to Dave W Gray of Ardmore on 22-07-1968.
It was then readied for a flight to the UK and is seen below at Wanganui in its sponsors markings prior to departure in 1969. Pic by Allan Wooller.
It was flown to the UK to take part in the London to Sydney Air Race - departing Gatwick Airfield on 17-12-1969 as race number 20.
Below seen at Bankstown still in airace markings on 05-01-1970 by Greg Banfield.
Back in NZ it flew in these race marks for a while.
Below two shots of her at Paraparaumu on 07-01-1971
Hard to read but its ports of call are listed on the lower fuselage side.
And below an undated shot at Wellington.
It was rebuilt at Ardmore over the 1972 - 1977 period - 
And is seen below at Ardmore on 11-06-1973.
Work in progress.
It was flying again on 23-01-1977 - still bearing the Tawaka name.
Below CMM captured it in June of 1977.
Then a shot of it at Nelson in 1978 from Allan Wooller.
And one from Russell Woods at the same event in 1978.
Below is ZK-AKU at Wanganui in early 1979 from Allan Wooller.
Damaged on landing at Te Kowhai on 27-01-1980 it underwent another repair job.
Below an undated (early 80's ?) shot of ZK-AKU from CMM.
Now two views of her at Masterton - from the Allan Wooller collection.

Below - It was spied at New Plymouth on 24-03-1985 with its Air Race itinerary details on its fuselage side. 
And then at Taieri on 01-04-1985.
In the three shots below - It was noted at Dargaville in about 1986. 

 Seen below as AKU in Monteiths Brown Beer colour scheme
at Christchurch on 30-03-1987.

It was later repainted in a RNZAF post WWII colour scheme as NZ528.
Below a shot from Ivan Prince via the Ian Coates collection showings its RNZAF repaint with its civil registration below its tail.
Its registration was cancelled on 01-04-1992 as being withdrawn from use and stored at Dairy Flat (North Shore).
Restored to the register still with Dave Gray on 12-10-1994.
It was noted for sale in 2003.

It was listed with its current owner NZ Historic Aircraft Trust of Papakura on 13-08-2004.
Below - As seen at Tauranga on 04-03-2008.
Finally a photograph from Rob Wood taken on 02-06-2013 at Ardmore.


  1. Great post on AKU.The old girl had a interesting life .Is she still in Tauranga ?

  2. Yes, resident at Tauranga in January 2016.

    Thanks to Blue Bus for the most informative post.

    1. She put on a handling display at Tauranga on 23 January 2016

    2. Great the handling display .
      She is obviously kept in airworthy state

  3. Question? Were there two Dominies in the the Monteiths' Beer colours as I have a two pictures of Dominie ZK-AKJ in Monteiths colours at Hawera airfield? Stu Brown

  4. Evening unknown Stu Brown.
    ZK-AKJ was not a Dominie ! but a Tiger Moth which crashed in 1946.
    Is the "J" actually a "U"

  5. Hi, Yes you're right it is a U Ever so hard to see the letters in black on a brown tailfin and the lefthand upstroke of the U is over the hinge join of the rudder. Thanks for your prompt reply. Cheers, Stu

  6. Excellent - another problem solved.
    Well done that Man.

  7. I'm sure this is the same Dominie that Parker Mudge flew when it was with Patchett Tours. I remember it landing at Franz Josef to pick up a couple of American Tourists who wanted a twin engine aircraft to fly them from Franz Josef to Queenstown. When Parker arrived at Franz the Americans were yelling out "we said two engines, not two wings"!! A long & protracted yelling match ensured before poor old Parker Mudge had to fly back to Christchurch empty.