The Hikitia floating crane is a Wellington icon and thought to be the world's oldest ship of this type still working.
Built in Scotland in 1926 she sailed from Glasgow on 29 September and arrived in Wellington on 21 December – some 84 days which is considered a record distance for a ship of this type. She began work almost immediately and for 63 years was used in construction and other work, including demolishing the Wahine.
In 1990 she was purchased for preservation by two couples. After hard work by the owners and many volunteers, in July 1992 the 66-year-old ship was approved to lift 80 tonnes after succeeding in an 88-tonne lift. She went on to successfully complete a 100-tonne test lift to maintain her licence, which matches her performance in 1926 when she first arrived in Wellington.
Since then Hikitia has performed some 300 lifts including linkspans for roll-on roll-off ships and three separate fleets of BT Global Challenge yachts. She has lifted harbour ferries, acted as a breakwater, salvaged sunken boats and even a Catalina flying boat, been a platform for firework displays and relocated a 7-tonne anchor for conservation.
In June 2009 the Hikitia went to Lyttelton for extensive hull repairs and exterior painting before returning to Wellington in November of that same year.
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