10 December 2023

Rotorua Airways and the Te Arawa

Rotorua Airways Limited was registered in Auckland on the 2nd of June 1930 with its ‘objects’ including aeroplane taxi work, air-mail contracting, flying instruction and aero engineering. The new company’s registered capital was £1200 in 20 £60 shares, the subscribers being Jack Douglas Davys, Duncan William Steel, George William Vaughan, John Fortune, William Thomas Jupp, John Wylie, Ton Parata, Sydney Herbert Jolly, Alan Eric Carruthers, Caleb Robinson Tapper, John Falloon, Frederick S. Boyes, George Steele, Albert Percy Smith, George Eric Dawson, Sidney Smith, Michael Hutton, John Bannatyne Morrison, Francis Moss Boord, and Leo Martin Hughes, all of Rotorua, with each one share.

In the same week the Auckland Sun reported in that the company had reached preliminary agreement with Flying Officer C. E. Kay, to act as chief pilot to the company, provided he can be released from his present engagement with the Royal Air Force. The company expects to commence active operations in October or November next. The type of plane to be used, will be a three-seater closed in coupe model. The capital of the company was increased by a further £300 in July and by another £1800 in September.

This further increase in capital is explained by a development recorded in the Auckland Star on the 25th of September 1930… The Waikato Aviation Company and Rotorua Airways have amalgamated. The new company will be known as Rotorua Airways, and with headquarters at Rotorua will operate a De Havilland Puss Moth, a three-seater cabin monoplane, and a standard Gipsy Moth. It is expected that tourist and passenger work will occupy most of the summer season, but in the autumn the company hopes to organise a federation of the smaller aero clubs in this district which cannot obtain Government assistance. The Waikato Aviation Co Ltd, described as commercial aviators and aircraft proprietors, had been formed by Martin Scott and Ray Money on the 30th of July 1930. 

Ray Money was part owner of de Havilland DH60G Gipsy Moth was ZK-AAV (c/n 1185). This aircraft had been registered to Hamilton Airways on the 29th of November 1929. The following year, on the 11th of June 1930, it was registered to the Waikato Aviation Co Ltd who had used it for joyriding and pilot training. On the 17th of October 1930 it was registered to Rotorua Airways Ltd.

On the 12th of October ZK-AAV was flown to Rotorua by Flying Officer Ray Money who was the first pilot for Rotorua Airways. Arrangements were made for the company to commence operations and the plane returned to Hamilton later in the afternoon with a passenger.. Rotorua Airways’ operations initially began from Hamilton but by mid-October work was rapidly proceeding to develop an airfield at Rotorua and to build a hangar for the new operator.

The NZ Herald reported on the delivery of Rotorua Airways’ de Havilland DH.80A Puss Moth on the 13th of October 1930… A new Puss Moth aeroplane, which arrived from England by the Rangitata last week was given a trial flight by Mr. D. Mill at the Hobsonville air base on Saturday afternoon (the 11th of October 1930). This is the first machine of the type to be flown in Auckland. The aeroplane was given a further flight yesterday when it was flown by Mr Mill to Mangers aerodrome and back to the air base. Mr Mill was very pleased with the performance of the machine. The Puss Moth has very few points of resemblance to the Gipsy Moth and is of the high-wing folding monoplane type. It is a three-seater machine with a sedan cabin. A transparent roof obviates the difficulty of having to fly "blind," which has formerly been a handicap with machines of the sedan type. The machine is fitted with a Gipsy III inverted engine capable of developing 120 horse power. The use of this type of engine considerably lessens the noise, and it is necessary for passengers to speak only in slightly louder tones than under normal conditions. The maximum speed is 130 miles an hour and the cruising speed under normal conditions about 110 miles an hour.

On the 15th of October the Auckland Star reported that Flying-Officer R. R. Money, pilot, and Mr. J. D. Davis, chairman of directors of Rotorua Airways, flew from Hamilton to Auckland in a Gipsy Moth yesterday (the 14th) and will return to Hamilton to-day in the new Puss Moth machine. Rotorua Airways will commence operations about October 25, Mr. Money stated yesterday. No regular services would be maintained, but machines would be available to carry tourists from Auckland to Rotorua and to the various places of interest in the thermal regions. The Puss Moth carries two passengers. The trip from Hamilton yesterday in the Gipsy Moth was made under very difficult conditions. "It is the worst trip I have experienced by air between Hamilton and Auckland," the pilot said. Leaving Hamilton at 11 o'clock in the morning the machine had to be flown at the low altitude of 150 ft in order to avoid the low-lying banks of clouds which were only 200 ft from the ground. The Waikato River was followed as far as the Waikato Heads and the machine continued along the coastline until the Manukau Heads were reached. During some portions of the journey the clouds wero as low as 50ft., Mr. Money said. The machine landed at the Mangere aerodrome at 11.45, the trip having occupied three-quarters of an hour.

Rotorua Airways took delivery of the Puss Moth on the 15th of October 1930. Interestingly, early photographs of it showed it wearing the registration ZK-AAG which was in fact a De Havilland Gipsy Moth. On the 16th of October Flying Officer R. R. Money flew the Puss Moth from Hobsonville to Hamilton’s Rukuhia aerodrome with Mr. J. D. Davys, the chairman of directors of Rotorua Airways. Leaving the air base at 11.30 in the morning, the machine landed at Rukuhia at 12.15, after circling over Hamilton. During the afternoon Mr. Money gave an exhibition of stunting and several passenger flights were made. The Puss Moth created considerable interest in Hamilton and the surrounding districts. This marked the official beginning of Rotorua Airways.

Waikato Times, 16 October 1930

The Bay of Plenty Times of the 16th of October was not backwards in singing the praises of the Puss, Moth. The Rotorua Airways, Ltd., are exceedingly fortunate in their choice. The convenience and comfort of closed-in aeroplane travel can only be properly appreciated by those who have been fortunate enough to have had a practical demonstration. It is anticipated that the most popular trip apart from short flights will be the lake trip, covering views of Lake Rotorua, Rotoiti, Rotokawa, Okataina, Oakreka, Tarawera, Green and Blue Lakes, a distance of approximately 40 miles, the cost of which will be £1 15/- per passenger.

The same issue also detailed announced that weather and other circumstances permitting, the new plane will be brought through to Rotorua next Saturday afternoon, arriving at Rotorua about 2 p.m., when His Worship the Mayor will sample its good qualities, and after that the plane will be available for passenger flights during the week-end. It will then return to Hamilton early the following week and be brought back to Rotorua, its permanent home, as soon as the hangar is completed and ready for occupation. The contract provides for completion, of the hangar by Labour Day. On Saturday last a number of members of the Aero Club, together with several citizens, formed a working bee and with the assistance of the Borough Council’s tractor and the Tourist Department’s roller, did very good work in helping to put the aerodrome in order. A full team will be engaged during the week and every effort will be made to have the aerodrome ready for use next week.

The company are exceedingly fortunate in obtaining the services Flying Officer Money as chief pilot and as a director of the company. He has a wide experience dating back to June 1915, when he joined the Royal Flying Corps. In August, 1915, he joined No. 2 Squadron as observer and served with them in France. Later, he served as a. pilot with the same squadron. In September, 1916, he was taken prisoner during the Somme offensive and remained a prisoner in Germany till the end of the war. In June, 1922, he took a short service commission in the Royal Air Force, and in 1923 joined the Fleet Air Arm and served between Gosport, Lenchares and H-M-Aircraft Carrier Argus. In 1925 he was appointed deck-landing instructor in the Navy. He instructed on the Snipe, Fairey IIID. Airo Bison and Blackburn Fleet Spotter. He has flown 20 types of land machines ana four types of sea planes and on amphibians. Since he has been in New Zealand, Flying-Officer Money has flown all over New Zealand from the Bay of Islands, in the North, to Christchurch, Blenheim and Nelson, in the South Island. He is also technical adviser to Dominion Airlines, Ltd. The company look forward to lending its assistance in providing up-to-date travel facilities for such members of the public as may care to employ its services. 

Rotorua Airways' de Havilland Puss Moth, incorrectly wearing the registration ZK-AAG which belong to a Gypsy Moth. It later wore its correct registration, ZK-ABG  Source : NZ Herald, 16 October 1930

... and from the Evening Post, 15 October 1930

and a final photo from the D Woodall collection via the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand (AHSNZ)

The aircraft was officially placed on the New Zealand register as ZK-ABG (c/n 2046) on the 21st of October 1930.

In late October Flying-Officer Money, accompanied by Mr Duncan Steele visited Te Puke to inspect, a possible landing ground for a flying machine in view of taking down the Rotorua Airways Ltd Puss Moth monoplane at some future date.

Don Stafford's history of aviation at Rotorua, "Flying the Thermal Skies," records that the Puss Moth ZK-ABG was flown to Rotorua on the 25th of October to take advantage of the crowds in Rotorua for Labour Weekend. On the 28th of October 1930 the Rotorua Aerodrome was officially opened. After the ceremony the Mayor and Mayoress of Rotorua Mr and Mrs T Jackson were taken for a flight. They mounted to a height of 5000 ft and had a splendid view of the town and surrounding country. On descending, Mrs Jackson christened the Puss Moth “Te Arawa” by the mayoress of Rotorua. The Te Arawa iwi was named after the Arawa, one of the great, ocean-going Māori voyaging canoes that carried their tupuna to Aotearoa and who settled Bay of Plenty and Rotorua areas. The aircraft was named “in recognition of the many acts of generosity by the iwi to the citizens of Rotorua.”

Ray Money and legendary Whakarewarewa guide Rangitīaria Dennan, better known as Guide Rangi, in front of Rotorua Airways' Puss Moth ZK-ABG at Rotorua. Photo presumably taken in 1930. Photo : AHSNZ

NZ Herald, 27 November 1930

In late November Flying Officer Money had an incident with the Gipsy Moth at Te Puke while offering passenger flights. While the plane was being turned on the ground, it collided with a Baby Austin car. The propeller and a wing of the plane were damaged, whilst the car also sustained some injury. A few days later a new propeller was fitted and the wing repaired before flying back to Rotorua. Some locals took exception to flying offered on a Sunday and a few days later Robert Money wrote to the local newspaper saying, We notice that a section of the residents of your town appear to take very strong exception to flying on Sundays. Our Company feels that it does not wish to adopt an antagonistic attitude to any section of the community that took the view that was adopted at a meeting held at Te Puke to discuss this matter. On our next visit to Te Puke, in deference to this expressed opinion we have decided to fly on Saturday afternoon only.

De Havilland Gipsy Moth ZK-AAV taken after it was operated by Rotorua Airways. R G Tappenden and P C Lewis had purchased it in September 1932 and named it Mascott. Photo : AHSNZ

An interesting feature of Rotorua Airways early days was that it was involved in parachute operations. On the 29th of November... There was an unfortunate ending to a parachute descent to-day, which had been arranged by the Rotorua Aero Club, in which Mr. Noah Jonassen, a garage proprietor, of Thames, was somewhat seriously injured. The descent was made from the Puss Moth aeroplane Arawa, piloted by Flying-Officer Money, from an altitude of 3500 feet. The take-off from the aeroplane was perfect, the parachute opening beautifully, and Mr. Jonassen could be seen descending swinging with the parachute toward the aerodrome. The light wind was blowing in the desired direction. Everything seemed to be going well until nearing the landing, when it was seen that Mr Jonassen would be carried beyond the cleared area. He eventually fell heavily into the scrub, and when he was found he was in a dazed condition, and it was seen that his legs were injured. Mr Jonassen was at once taken by ambulance to King George V Hospital where an X-ray examination will be made. It is thought that one leg is fractured. Mr. Jonassen has had no previous experience in descending from an aeroplane but he was much interested and desired to make the attempt.

Hawke's Bay Tribune, 18 December 1930

Rotorua Airways’ Puss Moth was going to see much of New Zealand in the few two to three years. On the 19th of December 1930 it flew to Hastings. Sadly it was to make many more trips to Hastings in the light of the Napier Earthquake on the 3rd of February 1931. The Thames Star similarly recounted a flight operated the on the 4th of February… Dr Liggins, of Thames, who, with Dr Gray and Sister Sheehan left Thames last Tuesday night (the 3rd) to go to Napier to help in the work of rescue, gave some interesting facts to a "Thames Star" reporter this morning. The party left Thames late in the evening and arrived at Rotorua early next morning (the 4th), and left promptly by an aeroplane provided by the Rotorua Airways, Ltd. The 'plane was a Puss Moth, a three-seater, and was piloted by Captain R. R. Money. The trip was the worst ever experienced by the pilot. He had difficulty in getting height, and several bumps of over 50ft to 60ft were experienced. There was a heavy cloud over the Taupo ranges, and it was necessary to rise to 10,000 ft to get above it. The bumps were more severe on the Napier side, and it was necessary to strap the passengers in so that they should not injure their heads on the top of the cabin.

Glimpses of the road could be seen as the ‘plane approached the stricken towns. Dust was blowing from slips that had come down from the hills, and also from the dry river beds. As far as they could see the water on the coast line was discoloured for a mile out. The flight occupied one hour and twenty minutes, which was longer than usual on account of the bad conditions. Captain Money made the same journey the previous evening in 55 minutes.

Napier was sighted first, and smoke could be seen rising from the ruins. Swinging south, Hastings came into view, and the town was circled about a dozen times in the effort to lose height. Looking at Hastings from the air the one thing that struck the party was' the patchy nature of the ruins, which were interspersed by sound buildings, and the peculiar look of houses with no chimneys. The 'plane landed in a field about a mile on the Napier side of Hastings, and the next problem was a conveyance to take the party the remaining nine miles.

The main road was near, and presently a motor-car came along and the driver agreed to take the doctors and nurse to Napier, although he knew that once his petrol was exhausted he would get no more. The road had been a tar-sealed one but it had become a narrow track and was broken by fissures, and at places had collapsed into great round holes, in places right across. The bridges were twisted and were only one-way spans. They will all have to be rebuilt…

A NZ Herald article reports on a flight later the same day. The Rotorua Airways Company's aeroplane Arawa was kept very busy yesterday afternoon and to-day taking passengers, doctors and nurses to Napier. The machine made some very fast trips, doing the journey there and, back in two hours and a-half. Yesterday afternoon Mr. J. Moore, of Napier, who is camping at Rotorua, flew to Napier in search of his daughter, Gladys. He went to his home in Raffles Street and eventually found his daughter. They wandered about during the night and at daybreak they started off by the aeroplane, reaching Rotorua about 6 a.m. Miss Moore said the shock of the earthquake was most sudden. She, with others, was working in the upper story of a wooden business house. They were terrified and when they reached the street it was hardly possible to see anything, as the air was filled with clouds of dust from the ruins of the brick buildings. With her companions she made for Marine Parade and afterwards sought safety on the higher ground. When flying back to Rotorua they passed over Hastings and from what they could see the damage appeared as great as in Napier.

The Hawke’s Bay Tribune paid tribute to Flying Officer Money on the 18th of February. Among those working almost unnoticed in rendering invaluable service to the people of this district is Mr R. R. Money, of Hamilton, who is a pilot employed by Rotorua Airways Ltd. Almost since the first day of the earthquake on February 3 he has been making flights daily, and sometimes twice daily, from Rotorua and other towns to Hastings, bringing down stores, medical supplies, and other very necessary articles. His services are being given entirely without charge, and hare been most valuable to the community. It was Mr. Money who flew from Rotorua with the £200 in notes which the Rotorua Borough Council gave to the local relief fund.

On the 26th of February Rotorua Airways flew Lord and Lady Baden-Powell from Wairakei to Rotorua. It was only the second occasion Lord Baden-Powell had been in the air. Once before the war he had flown in what would now be considered a very old-fashioned 'plane. Lady Baden-Powell flew with her husband yesterday. It was the first time that the Chief Guide had been aloft, and she was delighted with her experience.

At the end of March 1931 Rotorua Airways were offering flights from Arapuni near Putaruru and once again the company ran awry with Sunday worshippers. The Rev. G. H. Marr, chairman of the local Protestant Churches, telegraphed a protest to the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Hon. P. A. de la Perrelle. The latter communicated with the Commissioner of Police, who in turn instructed the local police to stop the proposed flights. As a result the Rotorua Airways carried out the flights on Saturday and despite the short notice of the change of the day they did good business.

Putaruru Press, 19 March 1931

But times were changing. One correspondent wrote in displeasure to the Putaruru Press…  During last week-end the sucklings of a bygone age were in evidence. An aeroplane was advertised to fly locally, but killjoy activity behind the law changed the airman’s plans for the day arranged. For sheer intolerance those behind the movement are to be highly commended. It reminds one of a famous Scot, who wears kilts more often than not lest his hand stray by accident towards his “trooser” pockets, to bust a nimble “saxpence.” - l am, etc., JAMES NORRIE.

Rotorua Airways were likewise, less than happy…  May we take this opportunity of apologising to your readers for our failure to carry out our advertised plans for flying last Sunday. Although the field chosen was seven miles from Putaruru, which would have been the nearest centre of population, yet certain persons in Putaruru took steps which compelled the police authorities to warn us that if we flew our aeroplane for hire on that date and in that place they would be compelled to summons and prosecute us. By an amendment in the law which has not yet been rectified, although those operating motor-cars, trains, boats and all other forms of transport may carry on their vocations on Sundays, yet those operating aircraft may not. Evidently having regard for the fact that in the country Sunday is for most people the only day on which they can get away, it has been the practice in most districts to allow the machinery of the law, in this particular instance, to remain quiescent. When four-fifths of the people are satisfied with a state of things, it seems to us unreasonable that one-fifth should have (a) the power and (b) the will to impose their opinions on the majority. However, we are , interested parties, so we should be pleased to hear the comments of others! - We are, etc., ROTORUA AIRWAYS, LTD.

In early April 1931 an urgent call to Opotiki to perform an operation at the hospital there involved Flying-Officer Money and Dr W. S. Wallis in a minor accident on Opotiki beach on Wednesday evening (presumably the 1st). The call came through late in the afternoon, and rather than make a long journey by road Dr Wallis decided to travel by air. Accordingly, he set off shortly after 5.30 p.m. for Opotiki in the Gipsy Moth aeroplane of Rotorua Airways. It was almost dark when the destination was reach and and it was impossible to distinguish the landing ground. The pilot decided that the only safe place to land was on the beach. Unfortunately the tide was in, and, despite a good landing, the soft sand pulled up the plane abruptly, throwing it forward on its nose. The propeller was splintered, but the two occupants escaped without injury. Dr Wallis performed a successful operation at the hospital and returned by another aeroplane to Rotorua next morning. The aircraft was repaired and flown back to Rotorua.

Don Stafford records an incident, presumably in April, that put the Puss Moth out of action... Taking off one windless day, with two heavy passengers on board Money realised that he was not going to able to get airborne, With few options open he bounced over the stream that in those days crossed much of the aerodrome and finished up in the manuka. The aircraft suffered only superficial damage but it was then found that pumice dust had played havoc with the engine and it would need  a total overhaul and many replacement parts. This meant a month of so out of action although flying continued with the Gypsy Moth. 

On the 9th of June a Rotorua Airways machine, became the first aircraft to land at Inglewood. It arrived at 12.30 p.m. yesterday from Hamilton. The pilot explained that he had left Hamilton at 11 o’clock in the morning with a passenger who had to be in Inglewood at 1 p.m. The landing was made on Mr. R. Ritchie’s property on the Hursthouse Road, and before the pilot left for Bell Block aerodrome he made passenger flights over Inglewood

On the 12th of June 1931 the Waikato Times reported that Ray Money had completed a successful season at Rotorua, where he, look aloft a total of 1550 passengers in 4½ months. The article also indicated that Ray Money had brought two Moth planes to Hamilton, and will engage in tuition and passenger flights for the next six months.  The planes he intends flying here will be a Gipsy Moth, of which he is the owner, and a Puss Moth belonging to Rotorua Airways. Mr Money intends using the aerodrome on Mr J. Steele's property, Rukuhia.

Waikato Times, 15 June 1931

Meanwhile, July 1931 saw the Gipsy Moth heading for Dunedin as reported in the Dominion of the 6th. The newspaper coverage suggested that   Summoned for an urgent operation at Dunedin, Dr S Hay, of Rotorua, passed through Wellington by aeroplane yesterday morning. The pilot was Captain R. R. Money, of Rotorua Airways, and a Gipsy Moth was used for the trip. Flying-Officer R. R. Money was near Hamilton on Saturday morning when he received a message from Dr. Hay. The pilot flew immediately to Rotorua and picked up the doctor. Darkness was approaching when the aeroplane reached the vicinity of Dannevirke on the trip south, and as the regular aerodrome could not be picked out, a field was chosen for the landing, which took place in the dusk. The flight from Dannevirke was resumed yesterday morning, and Wellington was reached at about 11.30 a.m., the pilot having been compelled to attain an altitude of 10,000 feet to obtain the best wind conditions. Rongotai aerodrome was left behind at noon. The pilot headed for Blenheim, hoping to land his passenger in Dunedin last evening. Having reached Timaru, however, he decided to stay the night and continue to-day.

The following day, the 7th, Flying Officer Money flew with Mr. E. R. Boucher, captain of the Auckland Aero Club, to Invercargill for a business meeting and then flew on to Timaru. Leaving there next morning, they reached Christchurch an hour later, and set out for Blenheim at 11.25 a.m. Meeting with rain south of Kaikoura, the airmen had to round Cape Campbell on the journey, and were forced down to 100 feet by walls of clouds. They landed at Blenheim at 1.40 having been. 2½ hours on the journey. From there Mr. Boucher came to Wellington by steamer, and Flying Officer. Money crossed the Strait in the Gipsy Moth on Saturday, the 11th before returning to Hamilton on the 15th.

The advertisements in the Waikato Times for flights in either the Puss Moth or Gispy Moth continued until the 30th of July 1931. From the 31st of July the advertisements stopped mentioning the Puss Moth and it looks at this stage as Ray Money and Rotorua Airways parted company. de Havilland Gipsy Moth, ZK-AAV, was registered to Ray Money on the 20th of August 1931 and to Martin Scott of Hamilton on the 29th of August 1931. Previously, on the 12th of May 1931, Desoutter 1 ZK-ABX had been registered to Martin Scott of Rotorua and on the 29th of August to Ray Money. Don Stafford records that Money had bought the Desoutter with the intention of competing with Rotorua Airways. Disaster struck the Desoutter on the 14th of September 1931 when Ray Money, with two passengers, experienced a severe downdraft and crashed. This was the end of Ray Money's plan for competition and he subsequently returned to Great Britain. 

In October 1931 the Puss Moth ZK-ABG returned to Rotorua with Captain Jim Hewett and later Flying Officer Robert Matheson acting as pilots. Don Stafford records that during the 1931-32 and 1932-33 summers ABG was used on numerous charters including to Auckland, Opotiki, Motiti Island, Te Teko, Wellington, Oamaru, Wanganui Gisborne, Napier, Ohope Beach and Tauranga. 

With the Depression deepening Flying Officer Bob Matheson moved to Hokitika being replaced by Squadron-Leader A. J. Butler in August 1932.

In both early 1933 and in early 1934 the Puss Moth was engage to act a tender for the visit of the Southern Cross.

A couple of photos of the Rotorua Airways' de Havilland Puss Moth ZK-ABG wearing Rotorua Airways titles. The Te Arawa titles are on the nose just in front of the cockpit windows. Location and photographer unknown. Photos : I Coates Collection.

By January 1934, however, the Puss Moth, "in thoroughly good condition and with a certificate of airworthiness" was being tendered for sale, even while acting as a tender for the Southern Cross.

Advertising flights in the Southern Cross and Rotorua Airways' Puss Moth, Christchurch Star, 19 March 1934

Unfortunately on the 19th of March 1934, while on tender duties for the Southern Cross, made a forced landing in a field near Rangiora last evening while on its way from Motueka to Christchurch. The Rotorua Airways Puss Moth., piloted by Squadron Leader A. J. Butler, which acts as tender to Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith's monoplane, the Southern Cross, had its undercarriage wrecked and its propeller smashed. Neither Squadron Leader Butler nor Mr H. Sargent, one of the Southern Cross's crew of mechanics, who was travelling in the machine, was injured. The Puss Moth left Motueka at 4.20 p.m.. at the same time as the Southern Cross. Mr Wilfrid Kingsford-Smith, who was a passenger in the Southern Cross, told a representative of "The Press" last evening that, though the weather was calm, heavy cloud was experienced for about 180 miles north of Kaikoura. Shortly before the Southern Cross entered this cloud he had looked behind and seen that the Puss Moth was no longer following the big machine, and he had taken it for granted that Squadron Leader Butler had landed at Blenheim. However, there had been no word of the machine when the Southern Cross reached Christchurch at 6.55 p.m.. and at 8 o'clock he had put through a toll call to Blenheim to find out if anything was known of the machine's whereabouts. However, before the call was completed Squadron-Leader Butler telephoned from near Rangiora and explained that he had been forced to land. The Puss Moth made slow progress through the heavy cloud bank north of Kaikoura, and when near Rangiora Squadron-Leader Butler found it so dark that he was unable to read his petrol gauge. Being uncertain of his position and uncertain of the quantity of petrol left in the tanks he decided to put the machine down in a paddock which appeared to be suitable. However, in the bad light the machine struck some obstruction, tearing off the undercarriage and smashing one blade of the propeller. As soon as word was received in Christchurch of the accident Mr W. Machin, Jun., aviation officer for the Vacuum Oil Company, who is accompanying the Southern Cross on her tour, went out to the scene, a paddock owned by Mr W. J. Guy, at Fernside. about three miles from Rangiora. He found that the undercarriage of the machine had been considerably damaged and the propeller broken. The machine will be brought into Christchurch this morning and taken to Wigram Aerodrome, where repairs will be carried out. It is expected that the repairs will take three or four days to complete, and in the meantime the Southern Cross will operate without a tender.

A couple of photos of the Puss Moth after its forced landing near Rangiora... Christchurch Star, 20 March 1934

Auckland Star, 22 March 1934

The recovery of Rotorua Airways' Puss Moth ZK-ABG at Fernside near Rangiora for transportation to Wigram on 20 March 1934. Photos : S MacKay - M Muller Collection

This incident was to prove to be the end of Rotorua Airways. The company advised the Rotorua Borough Council that they would cease operations on the 31st of March 1934. Repairs to the Puss Moth were completed at Timaru on the 7th of May 1934. On the 6th of June 1934. ZK-ABG was registered to New Zealand Airways Ltd of Timaru. The following month a notice appeared in the Gazette that Rotorua Airways Ltd was going into voluntary liquidation.

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