On 15 September 1976 the Rangatira arrived in Wellington from Lyttelton for the last time, bringing to an end more than 80 years of regular passenger ferry services between the two ports. The TEV Rangatira, a 9387-ton roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) vessel, had only entered service in 1972, as a replacement for the ill-fated Wahine, which had sunk with heavy loss of life in Wellington Harbour on 10 April 1968.
But the Rangatira came too late. By the mid-1970s most New Zealanders preferred to travel by aeroplane or, if they had cars, aboard the more convenient Picton–Wellington road/rail ferries. The Union Steam Ship Company withdrew from the Lyttelton–Wellington route in 1974, and although the Ministry of Transport kept the Rangatira running for another two years, the end of the service was only a matter of time.
The Rangatira later served as a British troopship during the Falklands War. After several renamings, and much time laid up, the ship was scrapped in Turkey in 2005.
Image: The Rangatira