Category Archives: Rangitiki

1937 Coronation

To England for the Coronation in 1937

Having just typed up the Passenger List for the voyage of the Rangitiki, which left Wellington in March 1937 bound for London, I realised that there were a fair number of potentially interesting people on board.

It turned out that many of the passengers were travelling to the UK to represent New Zealand at the Coronation of George VI and Elizabeth, our present Queen’s parents.

The New Zealand website Papers Past is an excellent free resource, and on searching for one of the names in the Passenger List, two newspaper articles appeared in the results.

The Officers, including Major Leckie, Captain Frickleton, Lieutenant D. Swettzer (on the Passenger List as Lieut. D. Sweetzer), Lieutenant R. W. Haddow, Lieutenant A. A. Tennant and Flying-Officer D. E. Grigg, can all be found amongst the First Class passengers in the List. I could not find Captain Garruth, so perhaps he was unable to travel.

The men selected seem to be listed in Tourist “B” class, not mixing with the Officers of course.

In this newspaper story, Lieutenant D. Sweetzer is listed with the same spelling as in the Passenger List, so I assume that this is correct.

Here is a short video from YouTube that was released by British Movietone.

Read about the luxurious Rangitiki here:

Rangitane first voyage – partial listing

I have just added a partial listing for the maiden voyage of the Rangitane which took place on 26th January 1950. One notable passenger on the list was The Countess of Orford (who I believe may have been visiting her daughter, or travelling with her daughter, Lady Anne Berry, although this is just a guess).

I have also found The Countess Orford on the Rangitiki in May 1949 on the voyage from Auckland, New Zealand to Southampton, UK, where her occupation is listed as “Peeress”!

The Rangitane called at Pitcairn Island on this maiden voyage but not many of the Pitcairners visited the ship. According to the book Pitcairn Island as a Port of Call, by Herbert Ford, Pitcairn postmaster Roy Clark wrote:

Yesterday a large passenger ship called here, but because it was Sabbath, not many went off to the ship, for on this day [the Sabbath] we do no trading. I think a good few of the passengers were disappointed. On these Sabbath-calling ships we do missionary work by giving away our [religious] papers.

Rangitiki – night time call at Pitcairn, September 1960


Ken Sunshine recently contacted me through this Blog asking if I knew where to find the passenger list for the Rangitiki, from London to Wellington, in September 1960. I managed to track it down on (a free website), and in the meantime, Ken also found a different listing on (you will need to be a paid up member to see this listing). Neither of these sites take their information from the printed passenger lists (as this Blog does), but from the official New Zealand Shipping Company listings.


According to Pitcairn Island as a Port of Call by Herbert Ford, the Rangitiki called at Pitcairn on 26th September on that particular voyage, so I asked Ken for his memories of the event:

pitcairn-029“We did indeed call at Pitcairn. 57 years on it is still a vivid memory.

We dropped anchor about 2 a.m. Out of the darkness canoes appeared, tied up alongside, occupants with their wares clambered up the sides of Rangitiki and set up on the deck. All I remember were bunches of small bananas and carved wood items. We bought two turtles inscribed “Pitcairn Island” and “From Pitcairn Island, made by Sam Young”.

pitcairn-030At 4 a.m. the ‘market’ closed, the visitors returned whence they had come and to the strains of Aloha-Oe disappeared into the blackness.

Most of the passengers slept through the whole event and missed a wonderful experience.”

I did not realise that ships called at Pitcairn in the middle of the night, I assumed they would just pass by. But as shipping has always been an important lifeline for Pitcairn, and in the days before email, with mail being so important, day or night would not matter to the islanders.

The photograph at the top of this post was taken by Tony Probst. It shows Pitcairn Island just before sunrise. Venus can be seen just above the moon. Clicking on the photograph will take you to Tony’s “Smugmug” site where you can see some fabulous photographs of Pitcairn Island. The other photographs show Ken’s Pitcairn turtles, purchased in 1960.

Partial Rangitiki listing for 1949

Another partial listing has been found in an eBay auction item. The vendor reproduced the First Class passengers only, but it was clear enough to be re-typed and listed here.

Please let me know if you find anything interesting, or perhaps a family connection, in these lists. And don’t forget that this Blog has been set up with the aim of raising money for Cancer Research – please give generously. Thank you.