A summary of the history of coastal ship operations can be found in "Roadways to Waterways" which is available as a pdf here:
"A Voice for Shipping" by Gavin McLean, published in 2009, gives a full history of the New Zealand Shipping Federation.
It is available in many libraries. It is also available here as a pdf file: 2009 A Voice For Shipping Full Book
The New Zealand Shipping Federation has a long history, but its role and place within the New Zealand maritime sector has evolved a great deal over time - the gradual but underlying change being a shift in focus from industrial issues to broader policy and industry advocacy work.
In 1906, ship owners formed the New Zealand Shipping Federation to succeed the short-lived Auckland Shipowners' Association. In its early years, it was a small, parochial body, often sidelined by the industry heavy-weight, the Union Steam Ship Company. The Federation lobbied harbour boards and the government for port improvements and legislative changes, but its priority business in those days was industrial - the maritime trade union and the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
In 1917 the Federation moved its headquarters to Wellington to be closer to government. It was heavily involved in the 1922 seamen's strike, and from then on was used more actively by the bigger shipping lines. While industrial negotiating remained core business, from the 1920s and the 1930s the Federation also grew concerned about competition from trucking firms and from the state-owned Railways Department.
In 1944, after hiring secretarial services from the Employers' Federation for decades, it set up its own office. The post-war years were busy as the shipping lines renewed their fleets and as centralised wage bargaining absorbed an increasing amount of the executive's time. So overwhelming was the industrial relations work that for some years the Federation was known as the New Zealand Shipowners' and Maritime Employers' Association (Inc).
From the 1960s, competition from railways began to bite hard, and Federation membership shrank as long-established lines withdrew from shipping. This modal change was followed by a political one in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, which freed the Federation from hands-on involvement in industrial negotiations. Since then the New Zealand Shipping Federation has concentrated on industry issues such as maritime industry regulation, ports and strategic transport policy work, notably the government's recent 'Sea Change' strategy for growing coastal shipping.