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AWATEA menu 16 December 1937

Date: 1937
Height: 250 mm, width: 320 mm (when opened)
Medium: Paper, red string
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Barry Bonetti
Object Name: Menu
Object No: ANMS0390[023]

User Terms

    Dinner menu from the Union Line steamship AWATEA. Cover features a drawing of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. Inside features the menu and a music programme. Additional text includes a typed invitation from Charles Uln to Chief Officer Bonetti to attend and assist in the formation of the 'Funeral Gin Club'.
    SignificanceShipboard menus such as these were often printed to be souvenirs and were collected as mementos of their travels by crew and passengers. Many shipping companies produced their own series of collectable menus with themes such as exotic destinations or historic events.
    HistoryTSS AWATEA was built by Vickers-Armstrongs, Barrow, and launched in February 1936 for the Union Steamship Company. AWATEA was intended for the company's trans-Tasman service between New Zealand and Australia and is considered by many to be the finest and most beautiful vessel that sailed for the Union Steamship Company. AWATEA's construction during the depression also created jobs for hundreds of people during a time when unemployment was high. The name AWATEA means 'eye of the dawn' in Maori. On the liner's delivery voyage from Liverpool to Wellington, AWATEA set a new record for the passage of 28 days, 14 hours and 20 minutes, even though only half of the available boilers were used on the journey. AWATEA also broke records for the Tasman trade and worked a very busy schedule, rarely spending a night in port. During World War II AWATEA's duties were altered and the vessel was used for the Canadian-Australasian service to Vancouver, and later as a troop transport. In 1941 AWATEA was requisitioned for war service by the British government and had several narrow escapes. In late 1941 leaving Liverpool in Britain ARATEA managed to escape a torpedo attack by a German submarine, and was twice involved in serious collisions with other allied ships. However in November 1942, en route to Gibraltar AWATEA was singled out for heavy attack by enemy planes. Despite an attempt by the Captain to beach the ship, the spread of fire was too great and AWATEA had to be abandoned only six years after being built.

    The Union Steam Ship Company was established in 1875 in Dunedin, New Zealand by James Mills who continued with the company until his death in 1936. The company built up an impressive fleet of passenger and cargo ships for coastal and overseas services. In 1972, bowing to economic pressures, the organisation ceased trading under the title Union Steam Ship Company, with the business transferring to the newly formed Tasman Union Ltd.

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