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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Many shipping companies have, at various times, been interested in the New Zealand service, and a full catalogue of their house flags would possibly run to several hundreds. A flag (A19) with a long continuous association with New Zealand is that which has been flown successively by the Tyser Line (1886), the Commonwealth and Dominion Line (1914), and the Port Line (1916). Richardson and Co., Napier (A20), was the first shipping company formed in New Zealand (1859), and their flag has become well known on the eastern coasts. The flag of the Northern Steamship Co. (A21) has been seen in northern waters since the company's formation in 1881. The New Zealand Shipping Co. (1873) always shows a pennant above its house flag. This dates from the days of sail when the pennant was flown to indicate that the ship was a steamer. The Union Steamship Co's flag (A22) has been in use since 1875. Mention has already been made of the Shaw Savill and Albion Co's. flag (A23). This has been displayed by Shaw Savill ships since 1858, but before this was used by ships belonging to Messrs Willis and Gann (established 1842). As this was only two years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi it lends a certain credibility to the belief that the company adopted the New South Wales Gazette version of the flag of the independent tribes – suitably altered by the omission of the fimbriation.

The flag of the South Pacific Trading Co., formed in the 1870s under the aegis of Sir Julius Vogel, placed the initial letters of the company's name upon the red panels of Queen Makea's (of Rarotonga) personal standard. Among the many other maritime flags which have been flown in New Zealand waters are those of the Kamo Colliery Co. (North Auckland) (E2) and of the “Circular Saw” Line which operated from Auckland (E1). A version of the latter, with the saw teeth pointing in the reverse direction, is now used by Henderson and Macfarlane Ltd., of Auckland. Another interesting flag is that which used to be flown on shore stations on the Kaipara mail run to indicate to passing steamers that there was mail to be collected (E3).