Published by the Society on behalf of the Union Company Cadets Reunion Committee.
Although the Union Steam Ship Company had briefly offered young New Zealnders on-the-job sea training earlier in the century, its most famous officer cadet training scheme began in 1952 and ran until 1986. During that time over 300 young men and women passed through the scheme. It was a time when New Zealand-flagged ships travelled the globe and when life at sea offered adventure and the ticket to a job for life.
Many former cadets are now masters or officers of today’s ships, others serve as harbour masters or pilots or shipping company managers. It is a lively text based on extensive interviews with former cadets, and in over 100 photpgraphs, Rae McGregor explores an era when the Union Company and its people were quite literally Sailing to Success.
Hardback, A4, 176 pages, including 16 pages of colour photos. Special price to members NZ$50 including post and packing within New Zealand. NZ$60 RRP.
Reviewed by Capt R J (Bob) Hawkins
Union Company Cadet Scheme
It could be said that writing a history of this particular cadet scheme which ran from 1952 to 1986, might be a little premature. However, when the subject was discussed by the USSCo Cadet's Reunion Committee it was decided to push ahead with the idea while many of the ex cadets were still on this good earth and able to recall their stories in person.
So the result has been a wonderful little piece of history gathered together by the author who was commissioned by the Cadet's Committee.
The story begins with an account of the previous cadet schemes which began with a Marine Department scheme using the former mission schooner Southern Cross, in 1874. Progressing later with Amokura and the Union Company's sailing ship Dartford in 1908, and faltering due to the intervening war years and depression.
The scheme as this book is entitled, covers the period of the largest venture started in 1952. The author has flushed out many stories and historical facts and figures which has resulted in a snapshot of a period in New Zealand's more recent maritime history.
There is an excellant photographic coverage with the majority of the material coming from ex cadets own collections, with many previously unpublished photographs.
During the nearly 35 year period of the cadet scheme some 300 young men and women passed through and after obtaining their 2nd mate's ticket, becoming junior officers.
Of course many of the cadets, once qualified, ventured overseas to join other shipping companies. Many later came home to enter many shipping related enterprises such as pilotage, tug masters, harbour masters and other coastal shipping operations.
Some went into marine superintendancy, some became navigation school lecturers, others even changed course all together and became airline pilots - their stories aplenty.
The demise of the scheme came about due in the main to the depletion of the fleet, and latter sale to off-shore interests.
The author, Rae McGregor is the wife of one of the cadets, and has given the book a real feel for the subject.
A foreword has been written by Captain L MacMillan, who was the Director of the Marine Department's School of Navigation. Captain Mac as he was affectionally known as, knew all the cadets and was responsible for their theorectical education as each cadet studied at the schools during periods in port at Wellington and Auckland, and finally studying for their qualifying officer examinations.
A very well presented and written book.