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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.



New Lines and Services

In 1886 the old-established London firm of G. D. Tyser and Co. entered into a contract with Nelson Brothers, of Hawke's Bay, to carry frozen meat from Napier at a reduced freight. They formed the Colonial Union Line Ltd. which chartered the steamers Balmoral Castle, Ashley Brook, Selembria, Star of England, and, later, the Bayley, Balcarres Brook, Celtic King, and Star of Victoria. The Colonial Union Line was dissolved when Tyser and Co. took over the outstanding charters. The first steamers built for the Tyser Line from 1890 onwards were the Hawke's Bay, Tomoana, and Mimiro, followed by the Niwaru, Marere, Nerehana, Muritai, and Makarini. These vessels were supplemented by the “Stars” of J. P. Corry and Co., of Belfast, and the “Indras” of T. B. Royden, of Liverpool—Indrapura, Indralema, Indrabarah, and so forth. In 1914 the Commonwealth and Dominion Line Ltd. came into being with the amalgamation of these three firms, together with that of William Milburn and Co., which owned a number of “Port” steamers. The group then owned 23 ships afloat, with two more about to be launched. All the ships were given names with the prefix “Port”. In 1916 the C. and D. Line was sold to the Cunard Steam Ship Co. and adopted the title of Port Line Ltd. Its present fleet numbers 31 motor ships, the largest of which are the Port Auckland and Port Brisbane, each of 12,000 tons register.

The Scottish Shire Line, begun in 1884 by Turnbull, Martin, and Co., of Glasgow, with the Elderslie, was prominent in the New Zealand meat trade for more than 45 years, until its interests were sold to the Clan Line. In 1902 the Federal Steam Navigation Co., in conjunction with Houlder Brothers, commenced a service between New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa under contract with the New Zealand Government; and in 1906 there began what was known as the Federal-Houlder-Shire Line, by which regular sailings were maintained between the United Kingdom, the Cape, Australia, and New Zealand. The Houlder Line, founded in 1849, owned the well known “Grange” steamers. The Federal Line, founded in 1897 by Allan Hughes, of Birt, Potter, and Hughes, of London, was the successor of Money Wigram's Blackwell Line (founded in 1824), several of whose auxiliary-screw ships were chartered in the 1870s by the Shaw Savill and New Zealand companies. In January 1912 the interests of the Federal Steam Navigation Co., including its fleet of 10 steamers, were acquired by the New Zealand Shipping Co. A few months later that company took over the whole of the Australasian business of Houlder Brothers and Co., the purchase including the four large “Grange” steamers which were given Irish county names. One of these was wrecked outside Otago Harbour in 1913, two were sunk during the war, and the Westmeath was run by the Union Steam Ship Co. for some years. The steamers of the Clan Line (Cayzer, Irvine, and Co.) entered the New Zealand trade for a brief period about 1910.

The Blue Star Line Ltd., which was founded in 1911 by the Vestey meat interests, has a large fleet of refrigerated and general cargo ships trading to South America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East. This line entered the New Zealand trade in 1935, in which it regularly employs 15 or more large ships, such as the Wellington Star, Auckland Star, New Zealand Star, Tasmania Star, and Adelaide Star. As well as providing a frequent service for refrigerated cargoes, the Blue Star Line now loads general cargo on its own account from the United Kingdom to New Zealand.