The New Zealand Maritime Record - sponsored by the NZ National Maritime Museum


Maintained by the NZ National Maritime Museum
as a service to Shipping Enthusiasts and Maritime Historians

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This website is developed from the site originally conceived developed & maintained by Marcus Castell and associates. Opinions are those of the various authors of the articles, and are not those of the NZ National Maritime Museum unless specifically noted. Information in this site has been updated to 2002 and will be progressively updated as resources allow. More information on historic ships (etc) is contained in the MARITIME INDEX website

Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand
Memorabilia and Ephemera

The Union Steam Ship Company survived as New Zealandís premier shipping company for 125 years, from 1875-2000. Many famous U.S.S.Co. liners and cargo ships plied the ocean routes to ports in eastern North America, the Far East, Australia, Pacific islands and of course, around the coast of New Zealand. A vital trade route was Cook Strait which linked the North Island with the South Island.

Awatea, Monowai, Niagara, Rangatira, Wahine, Hinemoa, Maori, Hawea, Wanaka, Tofua, Matua, Maunganui, Aorangi, Rotomahana, Wainui, Wairarapa were ship-names often repeated since the Company began in 1875.

At one stage the U.S.S.Co. was the largest single private employer of personnel in New Zealand.

There is currently no commemorative plaque to the employees of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand.

The ship's bell of Union Rotoiti was retained by her last Master and is in Auckland, New Zealand.

The bell, on permanent loan, could with your help become part of a commemoration to the men and women of the Union Steam Ship Company.

M.V. Union Rotoiti bell, photographer Alick Wilson

The plan is to incorporate a commemorative display consisting of the bell and a plaque to be installed in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand.
Fund raising has begun and will continue until the end of December 2007.
Provided sufficient funds are collected the unveiling will take place at the Cathedral service on Sea and Shipping Sunday, 22nd June 2008.

To contribute to the Union Rotoiti Bell Fund or for further information contact
Alick at
or Chris at

Union Rotoiti (1977) was the last ship to be built and owned by the U.S.S.Co.
Although she was sold to foreign owners in 1999 she continued to trade from New Zealand ports until sold for scrap in 2006. 



Hat badge

Uniform buttons






T.S.S. Monowai

MONOWAI dinner menu 30th July 1949 & timetable 1959-1960


Thanks to Steven McLachlan (specialist in Maritime Covers) and Marcus Castell for the images from their Union Steam Ship Company memorabilia collections. Rotoiti text and photograph provided by Alick Wilson.

This page is part of the Historic New Zealand Vessels section of the
New Zealand National Maritime Museum
web site



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NZ National Maritime Museum

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