The good ship Maheno, an ANZAC hero

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This wonderful image is a photograph of the ship Maheno, which served at Gallipoli as well as elsewhere in the Mediterranean during the First World War.  Along with sister hospital ship Marama, it transported over 47,000 wounded soldiers to safety. For the winter months of 2012 the Hocken Library is using this image to promote the current exhibition – Ship Shape – an exhibition based on the idea of “portraits” of ships.
Maheno in her building berth, 1905, Cameron Family Papers MS-1046/422
Maheno was built by William Denny and Brothers at Dumbarton, Scotland but Dunedin was its home.   Joining the Union Steam Ship Company’s fleet in 1905, the Maheno was the first turbine-powered ship to work the Trans-Tasman route.  The vessel had a strong link with the University of Otago as well since the Ministry of Defence offered the institution surplus money from the Hospital Ships’ Fund to build a hall for the military training of medical students in 1919.  Maheno and Marama Hall (as it was originally called) was completed in 1923 and is now occupied by the Department of Music.  A roll of honour in the foyer lists medical staff who served on the ships.
Maheno’s elegant profile was much admired, as were its comfortable and beautiful interiors. Original photographs of the ship from the Hocken Archives Collection are currently on show as part of the exhibition:
For more information about the exhibition, follow this link Ship Shape
Blog post prepared by Assistant Curator of Photographs, Anna Petersen, with David Murray, Acting Arrangement and Description Archivist.

This entry was posted in ANZAC Day, Exhibitions and events, Historical photographs, Ships and shipping, University of Otago, World War I by Anna Blackman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Anna Blackman

I'm Head Curator Archives here at the Hocken Collections and one of my tasks is to maintain this blog.

4 thoughts on “The good ship Maheno, an ANZAC hero

  1. Where to find Maheno’s ships crew Doing research on my father Ernest t Michael possible crew member

    • Hi Neville
      The Maheno was a Union Steam Ship Company vessel and a number of the staffing records for the USSCo are held by ‘Museum of Wellington, City and Sea’, email: It may help if you can tell them what your father’s occupation was and an approximate time period he may have been employed on the Maheno. There are records for Masters, Officers and Engineers from the 1870s to 1970s, although I do not know whether it is a complete record. I believe there are also seamen/crew records for c.1950s-c.1970s and possibly record cards for earlier periods, but you would need to contact Wellington Museum for an exact description of their holdings.
      Best wishes with your search
      Kate Guthrie (Assistant Archivist, Hocken Collections)

      • hello anna, maheno in drydock 1905..
        this is not a photo of maheno in drydock. rather she is on her building berth prior to launching. all is spic and span as she will never be again !! underneath the hull can be seen the timber shores [props] have not yet been removed,if she was in drydock she would be sitting on square timber blocks. log and chains are fitted to keep the rudder straight as she slides backwards into the the top right can be seen some unfinished safety railing and behind the props to the right another ship is being built.
        i hope that these comments are helpful.
        regards, keith murphy, member, otago maritime society

        • Hi Keith
          Thanks for the informative comment re the Maheno and what was happening to her at the time the photo was taken. I will update the caption on the photo. Kind regards, Anna Blackman, Curator of Archives and Manuscripts

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