Definitely NOT Airwork (NZ) Ltd, I believe it was the British one. I think company was formed to take over the Cook Strait freight service formerly run by NAC. AHSNZ had several histories of SAFE-Air published, probably best place to look. John Wright (a former senior pilot with SAFE from fairly early days) was involved in writing at least one of these histories, and the name Ross Dunlop also comes to mind. David D
Dave, the book "safe in the skies" has the following text "on the first day of September 1950, the government called for tenders for the supply and operation of Bristol Freighter aircraft, or other suitable types for the rail-air service. Three months later, on November 8 1950, the Wellington Companies Office received a registration for a brand new company - Straits Air Freight Express Limited. On February 10 1951 this unknown company, bankrolled by British company Airwork Ltd, was awarded the Railways Department rail-air contract.
I had started this much earlier today and this will now supplement what tbf 2504 has written and it's a precis from the same source "safe in the skies" a book that I think was given to me at the 50 year anniversary of SAFE in November 2000.
"On the 1st of Sept 1950 the NZ Govt called for tenders for the supply and operation of Bristol Freighters or other suitable types for a rail air service across Cook Strait. Three months later on the 8th of November 1950, the Wellington Companies Office received a registration for a new company - Straits Air Freight Express Limited. On 10th February 1951, this unknown company, which was bankrolled by the British Company Airwork Ltd, was awarded the Railways Department rail-air contract. There’s was one of four tenders received from either British companies or British/New Zealand combinations. Certain provisions in the Railways tender document precluded NAC from tendering. By August 1951, Airwork Limited who was a Bristol Freighter operator, had doubled their initial stake in S.A.F.E. and now had a controlling (93.6%) interest. Airwork eventually became British United Airways (BUA) and when BUA was sold off from the then Air Holdings group, S.A.F.E was kept and became an Air Holdings subsidiary. The contract was to start in June 1951 but the 1951 wharf strike intervened from late February 1951 and there became an urgent need for air cargo capacity on the Straits. The Companies two Bristol Freighters were yet to be delivered so charter aircraft were sought without success to assist the 2 NAC DC3’s still operating for the Railways. Ultimately a short term arrangement with the American owned Civil Air Transport (CAT) based in Formosa (now Taiwan) and operating Curtis C-46 Commando aircraft was arranged and to start in April. The first two C-46 aircraft did trial flights on the 14th of April and commenced operations on the 16th of April. The third and fourth C-46’s arrived at the beginning of May and within a month the NAC aircraft ceased operating the rail-air service. The S.A.F.E Bristols arrived in May, AYG about the 9th of May and AYH on the 31st of May 1951."
When I joined SAFE in May 1966, a lot of my training on line ops was in AYG.