The Tiare Taporo

Recently, the Cook Islands News ran an intriguing letter written by Jim Donald whose family once owned the company AB Donald Ltd of Auckland. In his letter Donald had graciously explained that a modern schooner named the Tiare Taporo was being erroneously compared to the famous trader schooner that sailed the South Seas in the early part of the 20th Century. I’ll paraphrase the article just a bit…

Letter to the Editor:

I have been very interested from time to time of the still North Sea trawler which was converted and refitted in Newfoundland and renamed Tiare Taporo- taking largely under false pretences the famous name of my family’s New Zealand kauri-built schooner owned by AB Donald Ltd of Auckland. 

Our schooner traded reliably through the Cook Islands, The Societies, Tuamotus and Marquesas, including a voyage to the US in the late 1940s and many voyages to New Zealand for 51 years from 1913 to 1964. 

The original Tiare Taporo’s most famous skipper was Captain Andy Thomson with whom I, at the tender age of 21, was enormously privileged to have sailed. My trip with him was on the motor ship Akatere on a voyage from Auckland to Rarotonga in 1968- a voyage that took 14 days!

Andy had retired by then but during the voyage he taught me how to use a sextant in successfully achieving celestial navigation. Andy was a great friend and valued employee of my family’s company. 

The reason this article is interesting to me is because Capitan Andy Thomson and the Tiare Taporo played a major role in the life of my book’s subject, the American author Robert Dean Frisbie. The book is titled, Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas, and is about Frisbie’s adventures living in the Pacific Islands, specifically Puka Puka in the Cook Islands. Frisbie and Captain Andy Thomson were good friends and often sailed together on the Tiare Taporo.

You can order a copy of the book on the publisher’s Dockside Sailing Press Website. The book can also been found on and



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