This week’s Object of the Week caught the eye of the Secretary of the Museum Society – thank you Ursula for your selection. A delightful framed poster evokes the romance and benefits of travel within New Zealand – still relevant in our Covid affected times today! The Union Steamship Company began regular sailings between Wellington and Ōhinehou Lyttelton in 1895 with two round trips a week. In 1905 this became a daily service year round. In 1933 the name "Steamer Express" was adopted for the service – of which the Maori, the Hinemoa, the Rangatira, and the Tamahine were some of the vessels used. This description of the interior of the Maori highlights the glamour of sailing journeys, for which many would don their best clothes:
"The spacious music-room is a veritable symphony in old gold and blue. Softly-yielding lounges invite contemplative inactivity, while the grand piano foreshadows unending possibilities. The dining room, reached by a noble staircase of handsome woods, is of special magnificence, upholstered in crimson and decorated in subdued artistic tints of green and white and gold. A lordly dome pierced and garnished with stained glass rises through the upper promenade deck, and may be lifted to augment the ventilation at will. The parquet floor is clothed with rich crimson carpets." https://nzhistory.govt.nz/.../lyttelton.../early-days
The ill-fated Wahine was another in the line and its tragic demise cast a dark cloud over the ferry service. With the advent of regular, faster, more affordable air travel in the early 1970’s, the death knell for overnight ferry journeys was rung. The inter-island service ended in 1976, bringing the Wellington–Lyttelton "Steamer Express" to an end, to the disappointment of many. Look closely at the poster – who knew that there were mermaids in our waters!
Poster for the Union Steam Ship Company Wellington-Lyttelton and Wellington-Picton services.
Features a photograph of the 'Maori' 1900-1950
Te Ūaka The Lyttelton Museum ref 14501.1