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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.



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Recent Developments

The New Zealand Conference Lines, which are an association of British-owned shipping companies engaged in the New Zealand trade, suffered the heavy loss of some 60 large vessels in the Second World War. These have since been largely replaced. The new Shaw Savill fleet includes two 20,000–ton passenger liners of revolutionary design – the Southern Cross and her slightly larger sister Northern Star. They are built solely for passenger trade and carry no cargo whatever, each making four round-the-world voyages a year. The New Zealand Shipping Co. has built three passenger-cargo liners – the Rangitane and Rangitoto, each of 21,800 tons, and the Ruahine, of 17,850 tons, and in addition has recently purchased the Cunard liner Parthia, of 20,000 tons, to replace the aged Rangitiki and Rangitata. Soon after the Union Steam Ship Co. abandoned its Vancouver run, the Orient Line entered the trans-Pacific passenger trade by extending its London-Australia service to include New Zealand, Fiji, Honolulu, the United States, and Canada. In 1959, in conjunction with the P. and O. Line, the Orient Pacific service was expanded into a triangular route to cross to the Far East and back to Australia or by way of Singapore and the Suez Canal to England. The 45,000–ton Canberra, of the P. and O. Line, and the 40,000–ton Oriana, of the Orient Line, have now entered this important service. In 1959 the Dutch Mails, forced out of the Indonesian trade by political circumstances, began a round-the-world passenger service between Holland and Southampton (via the Suez Canal to Australia and New Zealand and homeward via the Panama Canal) with the Willem Ruys, Oranje, and Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. Another round-the-world passenger service is operated by the Sitmar Line with three ships. The resumption by the American Matson Line of a passenger service from the United States with its Mariposa and Monterey restored another trans-Pacific link to New Zealand.

For many years a regular cargo service between New Zealand and east coast ports of Canada and the United States has been maintained by the Montreal – Australia – New Zealand Line, jointly operated by the New Zealand Shipping Co., the Port Line, and the Ellerman Lines. Fairly regular shipments of New Zealand lamb also go to New York and Montreal. The export of frozen meat to Japan began about 1956 when several shipments were carried in small Japanese ships. Then the well known Danish Lauritzen Line entered this trade and also began to carry frozen beef to Honolulu and Pacific coast ports of the United States and Canada. This bestirred the New Zealand Conference Lines which jointly formed the Crusader Shipping Co. and entered both trades with two fast ships – Crusader and Saracen. Their sailings are now supplemented by four new vessels which were built to develop the trade to Peru and the West Indies. Regular cargo services between Japan and New Zealand are also maintained by three Japanese lines. German lines have entered the trade between New Zealand and the Pacific coast ports of America. Shipments of meat and general cargo to Mediterranean ports are carried by the New Zealand Lines.

The Bank Line of Andrew Weir and Co. has long been a regular trader from Gulf of Mexico ports to New Zealand with cargoes of bitumen, lubricating oils, sulphur, etc. Their New Zealand agents, Geo. H. Scales Ltd., have, for more than 50 years, chartered ships in season to load wool for England and the Continent. The Norwegian Wilhelmsen Line and the Swedish Transatlantic Line bring Continental cargoes regularly and the Dutch Mails Line is now competing with the New Zealand Conference companies in that business. Trade with the Far East is carried on by the Indo-China Steam Navigation Co., of Jardine, Matheson, and by the Dutch Royal Inter-Ocean Lines, the latter having also a regular service to South Africa. Other vital links in New Zealand's overseas shipping services are the chartered ships of the British Phosphates Commission, which bring cargoes of phosphates from Nauru and Ocean Islands, and the numerous tankers with motor spirit and fuel oils from the Persian Gulf, the East Indies, Curacao, and other sources.

by Sydney David Waters (1883–1965), Journalist and Shipping Author, Wellington.

  • Steam in the Southern Pacific, Lawson, W. (1909)
  • Clipper to Motor-Liner—the New Zealand Shipping Company, Waters, S. D. (1940)
  • Union Line—A Short History of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand 1875–1951, Waters, S. D. (1952)
  • Richardson's from Napier, Waters, S. D. (1960).

For information on coastal shipping, especially scows, see ‘Neath Swaying Spars, Eaddy, P. A. (1955); Out of Auckland—a survey of sailing craft built in the Auckland Province, Hawkins, Clifford (1960); and The Log of the Huia (1951).