Despite occasional grumbles about the ‘U Shan’t Sleep Co’, the Union Steam Ship Company’s Lyttelton–Wellington ferries were the main link across Cook Strait for over 60 years. No mere ferries – the company pompously called them ‘steamer expresses’ – the Maori, Wahine, Rangatira and Hinemoa carried everyone from students to the governor-general. But the 9,387-ton Rangatira entered service too late; by 1972 customers were defecting to the airlines or the rail ferries. After just four years she was withdrawn.
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