Angus John McKenzie and the “Amokura”

Angus John McKenzie as an Amokura trainee circa 1916

Angus John McKenzie as an Amokura trainee circa 1916

In October 1906 the HMS Sparrow was stripped of her armament and commissioned as the Training Ship Amokura (a red-tailed tropical bird), she was no longer a warship but a New Zealand government funded training vessel. In February 1907 she was transferred to the Marine Department to prepare young New Zealanders for either the naval or merchant services.

On March 19 1907, under the command of Captain G. S. Hooper, Amokura received her first intake of sixty 12 to 14-year-old boys, who were taught navigation, seamanship, marine engines and gun drill by four instructors. For the next twelve years she was a familiar sight in New Zealand ports. The training voyages occupied about a third of her time and she wintered over at Port Nicholson (Wellington) and did two cruises every Summer, chiefly under sail, to the sub-Antarctic Islands and the Kermadecs. Captain Hooper continued as her master for the duration of her commission as a training ship.

Angus John McKenzie, joined the Amokura on June 15, 1916 just a month before his 15th birthday. He completed his training eighteen months later on January 14, 1918 at Wellington and then joined the S.S Komata. This was the first of many ships, as he went on to have a long and successful career in the merchant navy working all the while for the Union Steam Ship Company.

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