New Book

A Tasman Trio-Wanganella-Awatea-Monowai

Recalling the grand days of ocean liner and flying boat travel between Australia and New Zealand in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s…..


announce their latest book, of special interest to Australian and New Zealand readers by Andrew Bell and Murray Robinson


The Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand liner Monowai at Queens Wharf, Wellington about to depart for Sydney. © V H Young and L A Sawyer

Based in England, Ships in Focus Publications are a world-leading publisher of highest quality books on shipping and maritime history. Recent publications of theirs include Mauetania, Triumph and Resurrection and QE2, The Last Great Liner.

A Tasman Trio: Wanganella – Awatea – Monowai brings to lovers of good books the fascinating lives of the three best- remembered passenger liners that linked Australia and New Zealand in the golden era of sea travel, before the modern  airline industry came on the scene. Sunlit promenade decks, cocktails in the first class lounge, invitations to the captain’s table, tennis on the sports deck, dining saloons with the finest haute cuisine, cruising the Fiordland sounds, streamers and “All ashore!” on sailing day. The story of these three ships through the exigencies of war and the uncertainties of peace is told in a wealth of photos many of which have never been published before, all of them sourced from major collections in New Zealand and from around the world, including the publisher’s own extensive archives.

The Wanganella…. sensationally run aground on Barrett Reef at the entrance to Wellington Harbour in 1947, and then by a miracle saved from the sea’s destruction. Focal point of the controversial Manapouri Power Project in the 1960s when used as an accommodation ship at Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound.

The Awatea…. record breaker, “Queen of the Tasman”, third fastest ship in the British Empire when built, quintessence of luxury and celebrity travel. The only international merchant ship manned by a New Zealand crew to be lost in combat during World War Two.

And the Monowai…. at the spearhead of the 1944 D-Day Normandy invasion fleet, packed with assault troops, then bringing the first ex-POWS home to the UK after the end of the war in the Pacific. Rebuilt to become the grand old favourite with Tasman travellers in the 1950s.

The authors have drawn together the colourful narrative of these three historic ships, and of the 1950s flying boat service on the Tasman Sea, in a way that no other book has achieved. Andrew Bell of Cornwall, England was born and raised on the shores of Sydney harbour where the Wanganella, Awatea and Monowai were so often to be seen. A New Zealander and first time author, Murray Robinson lives on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington. His art is featured in the book’s endpapers.

104 pages in A4 Format, 189 black and white photos plus two maps and deck plans of each ship, also paintings of each ship in colour. Hard cover. ISBN 798-1-901-703-55-9.  RRP NZ$50.00

Orders are welcomed. Contact John Clarkson, SHIPS IN FOCAS PUBLICATIONS, 18 Franklands, Longton, Preston PR4 5PD, England.


As a special offer for New Zealand Company of Master Mariners members, John Clarkson has agreed to discount “A Tasman Trio” by 20% from NZ$50 down to NZ$40 plus $4.50 packing and Fastpost within NZ per book, or  $11.50 packing and airmail per book to Australia.

Members can forward orders and payment (Cheques made payable to “Murray Robinson”) to:–

Murray Robinson, 134c Raumati Road, Raumati Beach, KAPITI COAST 5032.

Members can also contact Murray on for his bank account number, if they wish to pay by internet banking. If members wish to use a credit card, they need to email John Clarkson at



This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *