The Amazing New Zealand International Exhibition 1906

The dragon, New Zealand International Exhibition 1906/7, Hagley Park, Christchurch , File Reference CCL PhotoCD 4, IMG0034

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.

A view of Wonderland
A view of Wonderland and the rest of the New Zealand International Exhibition 1906-1907 from the top of the waterchute [1906] CCL PhotoCD 12, IMG0003
People came from far and wide to see the exhibition. This lovely photo on Kete Christchurch shows two gentleman visitors who’d come all way the from Kumara in Westland.

New Zealand International Exhibition : southern half of the main avenue. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 4, IMG0013

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.

As well as images we’ve also digitised publications and other items about the exhibition. This Certificate of Attendance and exhibition souvenir are just a gorgeous mementos of a fabulous day out.

Certificate of attendance
Certificate of attendance, Mr. and Mrs. Parker of Wellington, 11th April 1907 CCL Archive 818

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.

More resources

3 thoughts on “The Amazing New Zealand International Exhibition 1906

  1. cccrose 2 November 2015 / 1:18 pm

    What is also amazing is how quickly the Exhbition Buildings were built – it was counted in weeks and took just months to build. If it was done now, I think we’d need to allow at least 5 years, and that would just be to get the resource consents !

    • katccl 3 November 2015 / 8:57 am

      Not sure if they were built to last! But, yes, all done very quickly.

      • Nick 18 December 2020 / 6:07 am

        The population at the time was roughly 50,000 people which makes the speed even more amazing.

        And that same year, the tallest building (7 storeys and 112ft) in the country was built just down the road.

        Also consider that trucks weren’t in Christchurch yet, and everything had to be hauled using horses, with construction materials often hauled from Picton over the port hills, because there was no tunnel.

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