Events In History


New Zealand disasters timeline

Wahine disaster

Oamaru Harbour

  • Page 1 – Oamaru Harbour

    Ports were the beachheads of colonial expansion. No town could prosper without one. Oamaru Harbour, which closed to shipping in 1974, is the best place in the country to see

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  • Page 2 – Early days

    European settlement at Oamaru began in 1853, and in the 1860s the town grew rich servicing pastoralists and gold miners. Oamaru, though, was no port. Cape Wanbrow, a stubby

  • Page 3 – Colonial beachhead

    The disastrous storm of 1868 forced Oamaru to invest in the construction of expensive concrete breakwaters and new larger wharves.

  • Page 4 – Deep-water port

    Oamaru's shipping tonnages rose after the First World War, but the port faced tough times as coastal shipping slumped from the 1960s.

  • Page 5 – Oamaru Harbour after 1974

    Although Oamaru no longer has an active port, tourism has brought new opportunities to the town and its harbour.

Pencarrow Lighthouse

Merchant marine

Container shipping

  • Page 1 – Container shipping

    Forty years ago, on 19 June 1971, the first all-container ship to visit New Zealand arrived in Wellington. The Columbus New Zealand was part of a worldwide revolution in

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  • Page 2 – The container is born

    A US trucker’s ‘out of the box’ solution led to the container shipping system we know today

  • Page 3 – Transforming shipping

    By the late 1960s, the valuable Atlantic trade was being containerized. New Zealand ports followed this closely, since some ports were expected to lose much of their overseas

  • Page 4 – Transforming our ports

    Containerisation changed the very look of our ports. In the 1970s the four cellular container ports – Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers – reclaimed land, filled

  • Page 5 – Transforming our economy

    Containers changed everything. Railways ordered fleets of flat deck rolling stock and ‘daylighted’ tiny Victorian tunnels to get them through. Truckers bought heavy duty

  • Page 7 – The wreck of the Rena in historical context

    On 5 October 2011 the MSC-chartered, Liberian-flagged container ship Rena astonished local mariners by grounding on the clearly marked Astrolabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty. Some

Royal NZ Navy's Bird-class ships

HMNZS Leander

  • Page 1 – HMNZS Leander

    When the Royal New Zealand Navy came into being on 1 October 1941, its main combat units were two Leander-class cruisers: Achilles and Leander. Although its early war was

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  • Page 2 – Leander-class light cruisers

    Facts and stats about the Leander light cruiser ships

  • Page 3 – Leander goes to war

    By mid-1940 the Leander was escorting convoys in the Red Sea and Aden areas. In between escorting merchant ships, the cruiser further pummelled the Italian submarine Torricelli

  • Page 4 – Pacific attack

    After some early successes, the Leander's war came to an end when she was hit by a long-range Japanese torpedo

  • Page 5 – Recovery and repair

    The Leander was hit just abaft the ‘A’ boiler room. Four hundred and ninety kilograms of high explosive killed everyone in that boiler room and the blast, venting

  • Page 6 – Last days

    The Leander never fought under the New Zealand ensign again and was eventually scrapped in 1949


The Merchant Navy

  • Page 3 – Under the Southern Cross

    New Zealand's domestic shipping industry played a vital role during the war. A small tributary of the vast British shipping empire, it was largely confined to 'short-sea' (

  • Page 4 – The Battle of the Atlantic

    Although it was waged half a world away, few military campaigns were as vital to New Zealand's interests as the Battle of the Atlantic. A German victory, which would have

Lyttelton-Wellington ferries

  • Page 2 – Key dates

    See a list of the key events in the life of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry service.

  • Page 3 – The early years

    Although many ships sailed between Lyttelton and Wellington during the course of their longer voyages, a regular passenger service between those ports took time to develop.

  • Page 4 – Politicians and ferries

    Politicians used the ferries to travel between their electorates and Wellington, so they scrutinised the Union Steam Ship Company's management of the ships.

  • Page 5 – Cabins de luxe and glory holes

    The purpose-built Maori of 1907 was a big leap forward, but description of the cabins was limited to ‘well endowed with spring mattresses and superior bed coverings'

  • Page 6 – Just like clockwork

    Every night, weather and sea conditions permitting, two ships crossed in the night at about 1.25 a.m. off the Kaikoura coast as perhaps 1500 New Zealanders passed quite

  • Page 7 – Officers and gentlemen?

    Some of the ferry masters – each known as ‘the Old Man' to the crew – were almost as well known as the ships themselves.

  • Page 8 – In strife and war

    The Lyttelton–Wellington ferries were such a vital link for travellers that they were given priority whenever strikes or lockouts paralysed the wharves, but wars

  • Page 9 – End of the line

    In the face of competition from other forms of transport the Union Steam Ship Company abandoned its glamour ferry service, sending the Maori to the scrappers in 1974.

  • Page 10 – Ferry tales

    Some people tell their stories of travelling on the Lyttelton–Wellington ferries.

Assisted immigration, 1947-75

The Vogel era

Hospital ships

A frontier of chaos?

  • Page 4 – The Boyd incident

    In December 1809 the sailing ship Boyd was anchored in Whangaroa Harbour. It was attacked by a group of Māori who killed most of its crew and passengers in retaliation for the

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  • Page 4 - The Boyd incidentIn December 1809 the sailing ship Boyd was anchored in WhangaroaHarbour. It was attacked by a group of Māori who killed most of its crew and passengers in retaliation for the

Nuclear-free New Zealand

Pacific aftermath

The 1913 Great Strike

Notes for My Successor

Flags of New Zealand

The Salonika campaign

  • Page 5 – NZEF involvement

    The New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) provided no combat units for the campaign in Salonika. The official contribution of New Zealanders was brief but marked by tragedy

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  • Page 5 - NZEF involvementThe New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) provided no combat units for the campaign in Salonika. The official contribution of New Zealanders was brief but marked by tragedy.

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