Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Zealand Centennial Exhibition, Wellington 1939 - 1940

 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition sticker, 1929-1940

The First Labour Government, elected in 1935, saw the centennial of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1940 as an opportunity to celebrate New Zealand's national identity. But by September 1939 with the British declaration of war against the Germans, New Zealanders once again found that "where Britain goes, we go". It was a bitter pill to swallow decades later in the early 1970s, that where Britain went - the European Common Market, New Zealand couldn't. So much for dumb loyalty.

When the Sesquicentennial rolled around in 1990, New Zealand had moved on. The event itself turned out to be a damp squib. Assigned an area along the Wellington waterfront a free market Labour government 180 degrees turned around from the ethos of the First Labour government put up a half-hearted effort to celebrate given its policy platform of full cost recovery, outsourcing to the private sector, and the contentious public debate of the continuing role of the Treaty in modern New Zealand life. Attendance was abysmal. Auckland got the Commonwealth Games.

Some more advertising images for the 1940 Centennial - click on images for larger view:

 Travel poster pitched to overseas tourists

For those who wanted amusement rides - a map of the Fun of the Fair, 1940

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