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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

The New Zealand Shipping Company (Limited)

The New Zealand Shipping Company (Limited).

In no other department of human activity, perhaps, are the improvements which modern science and enterprise have introduced more apparent than in that which our Government Statist describes under the head of "interchange."

Not the least important of the great shipping companies to whose intelligent foresight and enterprise this satisfactory page 154condition of things is greatly due, is the New Zealand Shipping Company (Limited), which, since its inception in 1872, has played so important a part in the development of the resources of New Zealand. Registered in 1873 with a capital of £100,000, increased in the same year to £250,000, and in 1882 to £1,000,000, the success which, under the able management of Mr Coster, has attended the operations of this company has been something phenomenal, and the list of its fleet of steamers and sailing vessels—in addition to which the company charters largely to meet the requirements of the colonial trade—is of itself sufficient to prove the magnitude of its operations.

The company is at the present time carrying out a five years' contract entered into with the New Zealand Government for the conveyance of the mails between England and New Zealand, despatching a steamer each way every four weeks, alternately with the San Francisco service. Closely identified as the success of the frozen meat trade is with the future of the colonies, it need scarcely be said that full provision has been made by the company for the exigencies of this traffic, all their steamers and three of their sailing ships being fitted with refrigerating machinery for the conveyance of fresh meat, while some of the steamers have specially constructed chambers for cheese, butter, &c. Already the steamers have carried and delivered in good condition mutton to the extent of 310,025 carcases, equivalent to 21,701,750lbs., or 9688 tons, and beef to the extent of 765 carcases and pieces, equivalent to 459,000lbs., or 205 tons; and as the demand for New Zealand meat increases in the old country, the colonists may rest satisfied that the New Zealand Shipping Company (Limited) will be prepared to afford every possible facility for the transport of their supplies.

The route taken by the New Zealand Company's steamers for the homeward voyage is through Magellan Straits, if the weather is favourable, or via Cape Horn, which is perhaps the quickest and pleasantest for passengers, who will thus avoid the rough weather usually encountered rounding the Leuwin, and the extreme heat of the Red Sea and Suez Canal. We may here mention that the last passage home of the Ruapehu, from Lyttelton to Plymouth, was done in the remarkably quick time of 38 days, the actual steaming time being only 36 days 20 hours; while the last passage out of the Aorangi, from Plymouth to Port Chalmers, occupied only 39 days 22 hours, the actual steaming time being 38 days 19 hours. As a proof of the good management which characterises this service, it may page 155be mentioned that up to the present time the company have carried over 9000 passengers without a single accident. The dietary arrangements on these steamers are on as liberal a scale as could possibly be desired, an experienced surgeon is always on board, and the rules and regulations administered by the captain are well calculated to promote the health and comfort of all on board. The passenger rates are from 60 to 70 guineas first class, 40 guineas second class, and from 18 to 22 guineas third class. There are connecting steamers from Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin, Hokitika, and the other New Zealand ports, and passengers may also book for the through passage at Sydney, Melbourne, and the other Australian ports. The London office of the company is at 138 Leadenhall street.

This brief sketch of the rise and progress of. the New Zealand Shipping Company would scarcely be complete did we close it without reference to the career of its able manager, Mr John Coster, the present member for Heathcote in the New Zealand Parliament, Like many another enterprising and energetic colonist, Mr Coster hails from Devonshire, being the son of Dr. J. W. Coster, of Exeter, where he was born in 1838, and whence he emigrated to New South Wales while quite a lad. He was barely of age when the Union Bank sent him to New Zealand, in March, 1859, since which date Mr Coster has taken a leading part in the financial and mercantile progress of New Zealand, and more especially of Canterbury. His talents and energy carried him triumphantly through his arduous labours as manager in Christchurch of the Union Bank of Australia, and subsequently as director of the local fortunes of that powerful association known as the Bank of New Zealand. Mr Coster was still comparatively a young man when he was induced to leave the Bank of New Zealand and join the New Zealand Shipping Company, which he has since managed with such conspicuous ability. Mr Macandrew may, indeed, in a certain sense, be designated the "father" of this splendid direct service with the old country, for he has always ably and energetically advocated such a service in Parliament; but to Mr Coster undoubtedly belongs the honour of having, in. the face of many difficulties and much opposition, even from those who should have seconded his efforts, established and set in working order the grand fleet of fast boats which now connect New Zealand with the mother country and the old world. As the benefits arising from this line of communication become yearly more apparent to the colonists, they will recognise more clearly the debt of gratitude they owe to Mr Coster for the pluck, determination, and ability with which he has conducted the company to its present successful position.