Topic: Donald Robert Munro (1903-1995)
Captain Donald Ronald Munro presented his collection of nautical books to the Tauranga District Libraries before his death in 1995. These have become known as the "Munro Collection'. This story is reproduced from information that sits alongside the collection.
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The Munro Collection and the story of its donor, Captain Donald Robert Munro.
Don Munro was born in Hawera in 1903, the son of a farmer. At the age of 11 his father gave him a copy of R.H. Dana's "Two Years Before The Mast" and from the moment he read the volume, there was no doubt in the young Munro's mind about his future career.
At the age of 17 he joined the "Zingara", a three-masted topsail scow running out of Auckland. He later served in Northern and Union Steam Ship Company vessels before joining Gustaf Erikson's Finnish four-masted square-rigger "Lawhill" in Newcastle, Australia. He was in the "Lawhill" as an AB that he first rounded Cape Horn in 1925.
After serving in steamers out of England he joined the topsail schooner "Huia" in Auckland. He made four round trans-Tasman voyages in her and in 1928 was back in Australia looking for another Cape Horner. He found her in the "Pommern", another Gustaf Erickson ship, lying in Sydney full of wheat. It was in the big four-master that he rounded the Horn the second time.
Back in New Zealand he successfully sat for his mate's ticket, and was then "on the beach" for 18 months before he got a position with Holm and Company in the coaster "John". It was the "John" which later became his first command. During the Second World War Captain Munro was master of the USS Co's tug "Terawhiti" in Wellington.
After the war he went commercial fishing out of Tauranga, but returned to the Holm Line to captain the "Holmburn", "Holmlea" and made Tauranga his home port with an interest in a slipway and boat-building business. But the sea was still in Captain Munro's blood, and he was master in the NSS Co. coasters "Apanui", "Tainui" and "Maranui" before he "swallowed the anchor" in 1961 to begin a cargo-surveying business at Mount Maunganui.
He was for many years president of Cape Horners New Zealand, a section of the International Association of Cape Horners. Members could qualify only by having sailed around Cape Horn in a square-rigged trading ship. Captain Munro qualified, like most members, as a Mollymawk, or sailor-member. (Masters were known as Albatrosses.)
Captain Munro presented these, his nautical books, to the Tauranga District Libraries before he died in Tauranga on August 13, 1995, and they have become known as the "Munro Collection."
This page was archived at Perma cc February 2016 https://perma.cc/8jzw-8nmj