• Auckland Harbour Board Archives – Mircofilm Transfer –  The Auckland Harbour Board Archives records are currently stored on microfilm and an expert in the field has identified that this unique information which includes plans and correspondence dating to the late 1800s is in danger of being lost forever due to degradation of the film.  In total there are 314 reels of information which needs to be transferred to a digital format. As of May 2018,  107 are in the process of being transferred with funding received from Lion Foundation and Pub charities.  To assist in this project the Foundation has made an immediate grant of $20,000 which means that 100 more reels can be rescued and 13 reels of original engineers’ plans can be digitalised.
  • Kermadec Artworks  – The Maritime Foundation recently enabled the acquisition of a selection of works for the New Zealand Maritime Museum’s collection to commemorate Marleene Boyd. Marleene worked as the Museum’s librarian and archivist from 2003 until 2017. Interested in science, art, conservation and all things maritime, it is fitting that the acquisitioned works were created by artists, who in 2011, travelled to the Kermadec Islands as part of a project supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, an organization aiming to raise awareness about this area of the South Pacific. Works created from the trip were exhibited in a touring exhibition staged at the Maritime Museum and other venues around the country. The exhibition inspired Marleene to visit the Kermadec Islands on a science expedition in 2016. To support the acquisition, several artists also agreed to kindly gift works to the Museum.  The artworks will be on display in the Edmiston Gallery at the Museum.
  • The Drowning Country” – Over Labour Weekend 2014, and as part of the Tall Ships 2013 festival, the Foundation hosted the Auckland premier of a documentary “The Drowning Country” written, directed and produced by Caroline Fitzgerald, .  In addition to telling us a fascinating story of Carolyn’s great grandmother Orpheus Beaumont, and development of the life jacket in New Zealand, the documentary highlighted New Zealand’s appalling drowning statistics and emphasised the safety message of always wearing a life jacket whilst on the water.  The documentary was supported financially by the Maritime Museum Foundation as the trustees felt it so clearly fitted our criteria of research, education and preservation of maritime history.
  • “Thelma” – Pursuant to a funding application received from the NZ Maritime Museum, the Foundation was proud to contribute funding to the Classic Yacht Charitable Trust to assist with the repair of the heritage vessel in 2015.
  • In 2006, the Foundation Funded the conservation of the 1777 book about Captain Cook’s voyages written by Sydney Parkinson, artist to Joseph Banks.
  • Funding assistance to catalogue and index the Sea Spray Photograph Collection in the Bill Laxon Maritime Library.
  • Donated a 250-year history of Lloyds Register to the Navy Museum, Devonport.
  • Assisted in the publication and launch of Guardians of the Light (with the Chisholm Whitney Family Charitable Trust). A DVD documentary of the men and women who lived on the isolated islands and craggy cliffs of New Zealand’s manned light stations, talking about a lifestyle that ended last century.
  • Assisted with the launch of Historical books:

In 2011 The Foundation funded the acquisition of a number of historic books for the Bill Laxon Maritime Library at the NZ Maritime Museum. The books were:

  •  ‘The New Zealand Handbook’ by Charles Hursthouse (Ninth Edition 1862). Other editions are held in various libraries, but this edition is not held in any other NZ library.
  •  ‘A Report of the Passage of the Andrew Jackson from London to Auckland in the year 1865’ by Mason D Taylor. Copies are only held in the Turnbull and Hocken libraries and at waikato University. This book will be extremely useful for immigration research at the Museum.
  •  ‘The Wild west Coast of New Zealand. A Summer Cruise in the “Rosa” ‘ by Robert Paulin (1889). Described as a “lively factual account of a cruise to Stewart Island and the West Coast Sounds”, this book fills a gap in the subject matter held in the Museum’s library.


Book Reviews

The Foundation was recently invited to review:

horrible_shipwreck_coverHorrible Shipwreck! A full true and particular account of the melancholy loss of the British convict ship Amphitrite …. A ndrew C.A.Jampoler. Naval Institute Press. Annapolis, Maryland 2010. ISBN 978-1-59114-411-3

On 31 August 1833, the British convict ship AMPHITRITE foundered off Boulogne in France. 133 lives, mainly female convicts and their children bound for New South Wales from London, were lost. Only two of the crew and one of the convicts survived … <more>

eagle_seamanship_manual_coverEAGLE SEAMANSHIP A MANUAL FOR SQUARE-RIGGER SAILING – 4th edition. Revised by CAPT Eric C. Jones USGC and LT Christopher D. Nolan USCG
Naval Institute Press. 2011 ISBN 978-1-59114-631-5.

Review by Richard Pomeroy, Marine Surveyor, formerly vessels manager at the NZ National Maritime Museum    … <more>


Book Launches


The Bill Laxon Maritime Library Foundation was pleased to co-host the Auckland launch of this new book by David Langdon on 11 September 2010.


The book is available from BOATBOOKS, Auckland. Please mention the Foundation if purchasing


The Bill Laxon Maritime Library Foundation, in collaboration with the Chisholm Whitney Family Charitable Trust assisted with the funding of a video project undertaken by Howard Taylor Productions and Helen Beaglehole.

The days when lighthouse keepers sat up all night to keep the lights going are over. In this documentary the men and women who lived on the isolated islands and craggy cliffs of New Zealand’s manned light stations talk about a lifestyle that ended last century.

The DVD can be ordered from the Voyager NZ Maritime Museum, Auckland at a cost of $35 plus P&P.

Contact the museum at 09 373 0800 or email

hp_coverHUDDART PARKER – A Famous Australasian Shipping Company.

While writing a history of Huddart Parker, Auckland maritime historian Bill Laxon regrettably became ill and died.

His draft script was taken over and completed by three of his friends – Howard Dick, Ian Farquhar and Tom Stevens.

The 248 page book is the first definitive history of this important Melbourne-based shipowner. Huddart Parker was not only a famous Australian interstate shipping company but also the only one to maintain a passenger line to New Zealand. Its coastal liners Westralia and Zealandia, trans-Tasman liners Ulimaroa and Wanganella and Bass Strait ferries Nairana and Taroona were all household names.

The company also operated a fleet of interstate cargo ships, tugs at Melbourne and Port Adelaide, and excursion steamers on Port Phillip Bay. Besides shipping, it owned large coal mines, had shareholdings in many other companies, and was a pioneer investor in domestic aviation.

This book records the history from the arrival of the founders during the gold rush of the 1850s, through the establishment of the company in 1876 to its takeover and withdrawal from shipping in 1961. There are appendices on the Bay excursion trade, James Huddart’s Canadian Australian Royal Mail Line, personalia, shore offices, tugs, collieries and the company’s venture into aviation, as well as a detailed fleet list and comprehensive index.

It is a soft-cover publication (250 x 176 cm) of 248 pages with 135 illustrations of virtually all the cargo and passenger ships, Bay steamers and tugs.

This book is published by the Nautical Association of Australia Inc. It is available in NZ from Boat Books Ltd

The Foundation was pleased to support the launch of this book at a function in Auckland on 26 February 2009.


Ian Farquhar, one of the authors who completed the book, addresses the audience at the book launch






Lorna Laxon, Bill’s widow, launches the book in Auckland, using a souvenir bell from the WANGANELLA, donated by Ms Lesley Taylor.
The bell was passed to the NZ National Maritime Museum