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Head of the River invitation for THERESA WARD

Overall: 61 x 92 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Elizabeth Musgrove
Object Name: Invitation
Object No: 00049275

User Terms

    Invitation for an excursion to the rowing regatta the Head of the River on the THERESA WARD, 1934.
    SignificanceThe THERESA WARD was a steam tug with an extraordinarily long service, owned by the Prime Minister of New Zealand at one stage and named after his wife. In the 1930s the Head of the River was a significant annual rowing regatta and excursions from Sydney to the Hawkesbury River were popular events.
    HistoryThe THERESA WARD was a well known and remarkably long serving steam tug. It worked the New Zealand port of Bluff Harbour for nearly thirty years from 1900 until the late 1920s, then crossed the Tasman in 1933 to new owners Wallace and Co. in Sydney. The tug served them equally well until it was scrapped in January 1960. It was also used by Wallace for pleasure cruises such as the viewing of the rowing regatta The Head of the River at least in the 1930s.

    The tug had its work cut out for it in the early 1900s. Bluff Harbour, on the Foveaux Straight at the southern end of New Zealand's South Island, was regarded as one of the most dangerous harbour mouths in the world.

    A New Zealand newspaper, the Grey River Argus, noted the 'christening' of the tug on 23 November 1900;

    'A Day at Bluff. Invercargill, November 21. At Bluff harbour this afternoon, with some ceremony, Miss Eileen, daughter of the Hon. Mr Ward, christened the new tug, 'Theresa Ward' just arrived from England. In the afternoon the Postmaster-General formally opened the Government Building at the port, which contain Post and Telegraph, Customs and other Department offices and later a procession was formed by the residents and visitors, the bands, volunteers, lodges and marched down the old Point road, now improved and named Ward Parade. After speeches, Mr Ward declared the parade formally open to the public. This evening the Hon. gentlemen is being entertained at a banquet by the residents of Campbell town in honor of the day's doings.'

    Sir Joseph Ward (1856-1931) painted an oil of the vessel on canvas on board. Ward was known to have painted other naive style paintings. Joseph Ward was chairman of the Bluff Harbour Board from 1883-1888 and briefly again in 1893. He remained a member until 1917. He was Mayor of Bluff 1881 - 1886 and again 1897-98 and then Prime Minister, of New Zealand (1906–12, 1928–30).

    In 1883, then 27 year old Joseph Ward married 17 year old Theresa Dorothea De Smidt, who was apparently known for her beauty, elegance and extravagant hats. Theresa is probably one of the figures depicted on the stern of the boat in the painting.

    Premier Ward may have painted the tug after an adventurous trip from Dunedin in 1911. According to the Poverty Bay Herald, 7 December 1911;

    '...Sir Joseph Ward made a valiant endeavor to reach Stewart Island on Tuesday night, with the object of addressing his constituents there, and essayed the trip across the Strait in the tug THERESA WARD. The vessel got to the entrance of the harbor, but found it impossible to negotiate the mountainous seas in the Strait. The tug had therefore, to turn about, and make for the Bluff, which she reached yesterday morning. It is said that if Sir Joseph had persisted in crossing the Strait the boat would never have weathered the storm.'

    The tug proved its worth following the grounding of the whale factory ship C. A. Larsen near Stewart Island in 1928. It was also briefly in the in Bluff to Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island ferry service.

    Although the vessel was described as 'aging' in 1933, it proved useful for Wallace & Co Tugs for another 20 years. The Wallace Tugs company was well known in Port Jackson and Port Kembla during the twentieth century. Two of their vessels were the JAMES WALLACE and the NORMAN WALLACE.

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