She really was a small ship, and so proved too cumbersome and costly for the Matiaitia run.
Muritai, a twin screw steel hull steamer, was originally built in 1922 in the UK, destined for the Eastbourne-Welllington ferry service. She was then sold to the Navy and commissioned as a minesweeper during the Second World War.
She was sold to the Devonport Steam Ferry Company and started coming to Matiatia in 1946. This was only possible after extensive renovations to the ship, and made easier with the new Matiatia Wharf which was built in 1947.
As David Balderston notes in Waiheke Ferries of Auckland “High running costs made her an economic disaster.”
She was sold to the Waiheke Shipping Company in October 1954, and continued the Waiheke run each summer season until 1962.
In February, pasteurised bottled milk became part of the cargo carried by Waiheke Shipping Company vessels, and the contact for this required that it be landed at Matiatia. This made for an addition $3000 annual income, but still the Muritai was draining the Waiheke Shipping Company’s finances.
When the Muritai was retired, the Waiheke Shipping Company looked for innovative replacement. They decided on hydrofoils (see the story of the Manu Wai).
The hulk of Muritai was scrapped in 1971.
Builder and date: Coaster Construction, Montrose, UK, 1922
Gross tons: 462
Engines: 2 triple expansion steam engines, McKie and Baxter, Glasgow, UK
Speed: 13 knots