Calling all skilled model makers and miniaturists

Model Boat Making: No Easy Endeavour
Volunteers at the New Zealand Maritime Museum have embarked on an ambitious project to build a replica model of Captain Cook’s HMS ENDEAVOUR, which they estimate will take at least 2000 hours to complete. This year marks 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans. To signify the milestone, the Maritime Museum will be participating in a national commemoration called Tuia 250, a campaign led by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.
Once complete, the HMS ENDEAVOUR model will be displayed in the Maritime Museum’s Tuia Encounters exhibition, alongside significant artefacts from the era and a series of contemporary artistic responses. The HMS ENDEAVOUR was the British Royal Navy research vessel that Lieutenant James Cook sailed to New Zealand on his first voyage of discovery in 1769.
The Maritime Museum’s HMS ENDEAVOUR model making project was initially started by Lee Riding who sadly passed away three months after beginning the project in late 2017. Model making enthusiast and long-time volunteer Wayne Spicer has since taken over.
Wayne, who taught himself the craft over 20 years ago, says modelling the inside of a ship has been a new challenge for him.
The 1.5m long model is complete on the port side with an open cross section on the starboard side to reveal the sleeping quarters below the deck.

Photo - Wayne Spicer

“I’ve had to build the model from the ground up because I needed to make the interior as I went up each level.
“I built the completed sides’ outer hull first and then stood it up and worked my way up each deck ensuring I built each frame as it is depicted in the plans, so it is as accurate and to scale as possible,” he says.
Wayne, who has been working up to 50 hours a week to meet an October deadline, finished the hull in April before starting on the complex rigging this month [May].
“The rigging alone will take at least four to five months, it needs to be accurate because when it comes to famous boats like the Endeavour, everybody’s an expert and they’re not shy about pointing out if you’ve made a mistake,” he says.

Photo - Wayne Spicer

Olga Konytchevahas, another dedicated volunteer, has been assisting Wayne with the project. Olga, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, is excited to be involved in a project with such historical significance.
Although she is used to working with her hands and dealing with precise measurements, she found working with wood as a medium challenging.
“Model boats need to be milled using very small dimensions, so the fractional measurements given in the blueprints are thousands of an inch. So, the skills you need to make a model boat all come with practice.
“For example, learning how to plank properly, how to lay a deck, rig a mast or mount a canon. I had to learn all that from Wayne and then I had to practice.  
“Wayne is incredible at making models and very creative and inventive at making small parts for the ships,” she says.
Another volunteer, Terry Dale, has also contributed to the project by building four small boats that the Endeavour carried as well as making several miniature cannons.
Vincent Lipanovich, Director at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, says he is excited to add such a significant model to the Museum’s collection this year.
“The HMS ENDEAVOUR played such an important role in bringing together Māori and Europeans all those years ago.
“The model boat will be such an asset to our Tuia Encounters exhibition. It’s a real testament to how valuable volunteers are to the Museum and I’m incredibly proud of the hard work they have put into bringing this project to life,” he says.

Photo - Wayne Spicer

As one of the most geographically isolated island nations, New Zealanders have an incredible connection with the ocean. The Museum features the innovators and dreamers who forged New Zealand’s spirit of exploration, from the first discovery by Kupe, to one of the most courageous migrations by the Polynesian peoples, to Abel Tasman and then Cook.
The Maritime Museum is currently seeking skilled model makers and miniaturists to volunteer in the fully equipped Model Maker’s workshop overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. If you are interested, pop in and fill out an application at the front desk at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland Viaduct.
Phone 09 373 0800 or email volunteering@maritimemuseum.co.nz for more information.