Frances Steel
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The liner
Cultures of maritime technology
in Oceania under steam
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The growing fleet of Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand (USSCo.) ships became iconic expressions of New Zealand's maturing identity as a modern maritime power in the South Pacific. Company officials were concerned with authenticity and accuracy. This demonstrated a certain respect for Maori culture and heritage, linking an idealised and romanticised indigenous past to a technologically progressive future. Christening ships remains an important maritime tradition, a ritual that bestows a sense of individuality to each vessel. Ships were sometimes given Australian Aboriginal names, while a new series of vessels built especially for the tropical trades were named after islands in the Pacific. The decorative features of Maoriland included an enthusiasm for indigenous nomenclature and material culture. When New Zealand commissioned a battle-cruiser in 1910, the Zealandia was coined to rename a ship called New Zealand and release that name for the new vessel.

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Oceania under steam

Sea transport and the cultures of colonialism, c.1870–1914


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