09 September 2012

Akarana Air's Wairoa Service

Akarana Air began operating courier flights in 1973 between Auckland and Gisborne. This service was extended to Wairoa in October 1974. This was Wairoa’s first air service to Auckland and it enabled Auckland business people to have a full day in Wairoa leaving Auckland at 7.00 am and being back in Auckland at 7.00 pm. The service proved popular as by February 1975 was carrying four passengers a day in addition to the courier freight.
NZ Herald, 26 October 1974

The company could see there was potential to expand the service to Wairoa so in June 1976 it applied to the Air Services Licensing Authority to operate a thrice weekly scheduled air service between Wairoa and Auckland using their Aerostar aircraft. This involved the aircraft that had flown the morning courier service on a Monday and Thursday offering a direct flight to Auckland leaving Wairoa at 9.40am and arriving in Auckland at 10.55am. The afternoon flight left Auckland at 3.10pm and arrived back in Wairoa at 4.15pm. The aircraft then did the afternoon courier service back to Auckland, again via Gisborne and Tauranga. A Saturday morning Auckland-Wairoa-Auckland service was also offered. Later the flights were changed to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday service.
Akarana Air's courier service to Wairoa is shown in this June 1976 timetable

Aerostar ZK-DYW taken at Ardmore. Photo : B Gavin

The inaugural service, which was flown by Captain Ivan Reardon, operated on the 15th of July 1976. Akarana Air invited Mr W G Nolan, the Wairoa County Chairman, Mr H T McIntyre, a Wairoa Borough Councillor, Mr N J Alexander, the president of the Wairoa Aero Club, Mr F J Beattie Managing Director of the Wairoa Star Ltd and East Coast representative of Akarana Air Ltd and Mr G C Vincent, the chairman of the Wairoa businessmen’s Association to join the inaugural flight. “I think it is a splendid service to Auckland,” Mr N J Alexander told the Wairoa Star the following day. “I was most impressed with the comfort, the speed, and the modern sophisticated equipment.” I was amazed at its power after flying Aero Club machines, even although it is a small plane. It is equal in comfort and the sophistication of its machinery to the larger aircraft. Flying is definitely the way to travel,” Mr Alexander said.

Wairoa Star 16 July 1976

Wairoa Star 9 July 1976

In October 1978 Akarana Air changed its name to become Nationwide Air Akarana Limited though it continued to operate under the name Akarana Air. The new company was one of the failing Nationwide Air’s creditors to the tune of some $116,000. This placed it under financial stress and it was placed in receivership itself on the 13th of March 1979. About the same time a change to bank data processing at Hastings saw Cookson Airspread take over the Data bank contract and this led to further reduction of Akarana’s service. 
Wairoa Star 10 January 1979

By March the Wairoa Star was reporting that the Akarana service had become unreliable to the point where public confidence had dropped off and this was reflected in the bookings. Also, a question mark still hung over the company’s ability to stay airborne. D.J.R. Wilkie Aviation Ltd applied to the Air Services Licensing Authority to operate five return flights a week, Monday to Friday, between Wairoa and Auckland. In the end the ASLA ruled in favour of Cooksons operating a thrice-weekly service between Wairoa and Auckland. 

Akarana Air often used Sir W A Stevenson's Aerostar, ZK-WAS. It is seen here at Ardmore on the 25th of August 1979. Photo : B Gavin

Some reorganisation enabled it to continue to operate its Auckland-Wairoa air service for some weeks, however, Wairoa-based Cookson Air took over the service to Auckland on the 4th of May 1979 and Nationwide Air Akarana Ltd was wound up on the 9th of May 1979.


  1. As a child around about 4 years of age I would fly Wairoa to Auckland in that aircraft. The pilot was a nice chap that would sit me in the Copilot seat next to him. That would be mid 1970's. I enjoyed it so much, I am a pilot today.

  2. Great story... thanks for sharing