Brainchild of Premier Richard Seddon, the New Zealand International Exhibition of Arts and Industries opened in Hagley Park on 1 November 1906. There are heaps of resources on our website about the exhibition, which was designed to showcase New Zealand’s distinctiveness.
For an overview of the ins and outs of the exhibition our online guide is a must. You can find out about the incredible buildings that housed this extensive exhibition, the many display courts – the Tourism Court included a replica and not entirely politically correct Rotorua, and the different entertainments and exhibits, including the strictly non-educational Wonderland.
Hagley Park must have been a sight to behold and we have plenty of photos in our digital images collection to pore over. I’m rather taken with the magnificent dragon pictured above and also this image of the southern half of the main avenue – I’m amazed at the size and detail that’s gone into this construction.
In terms of reading material The Official Record of the New Zealand International Exhibition of Arts and Industries is nothing if not exhaustive. I haven’t had time to look through it all, but I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the list of awards and prize competitions. There were awards and medals for absolutely everything – some representative samples of West Coast alluvial gold won gold and a James Petrie of Timaru also won gold for his burglar-proof self-locking sash and frame window.
All these resources are a fascinating glimpse into life in New Zealand just over 100 years ago. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.