Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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At home with New Zealand in the 1960s

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posted on 2021-11-14, 00:52 authored by Thomson, Richard

Published by A H & A W Reed to immediate success late in 1961, New Zealand in Colour was the first of many large-format books of colour photographs of New Zealand. While they belonged to a tradition of scenic reproduction as old as European settlement, technological changes and the social and economic disruptions of the Second World War intensified the importance of the image in print culture. Drawing on recent historiographic approaches that seek to decentre New Zealand across transnational and city-hinterland relationships, this thesis argues that reproduction, through photography but also as a cultural practice, was intrinsic to a Pakeha conception of place. Looking at scenery was an activity thought to be peculiarly suited to New Zealand, but it was also a prime form of tourist consumption and was therefore essential to New Zealanders’ successful participation in modernity, which required ‘seeing ourselves’ but also awareness of recognition from other moderns. During the decades after the Second World War, modernity took on a more international character with greater mobility of people and goods and a strengthening consumer culture. The complex kinds of looking involved in being modern were increasingly expressed as a tension between modern and anti-modern impulses. The colour pictorial displayed New Zealand as a cultural landscape of cameras, cars, and holidays, but also as a refuge from modernity. The ‘coffee table book’ was a luxury consumer object of advanced technology, but the gift was the preferred method for its circulation. To be at home with this New Zealand may require a move to the suburbs, but it offers a view of nation and nationalism in which mobility, leisure, and consumption have become the chief explanatory tools.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Macdonald, Charlotte