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War art

The National Collection of War Art consists of about 1,500 artworks, including portraits, battle scenes, landscapes and abstracts, depicting those who served New Zealand in times of war, and the arenas in which they served.

The collection includes both official pieces, by artists formally commissioned by the New Zealand government, and other unofficial art works that were acquired for or donated to the collection. Most artworks in the collection depict World War One and World War Two. However, official war art continues to be commissioned by the New Zealand Defence Force up to the present day.

painting of soldiers and nurse walking down a gang plank of a ship
Reference: AAAC 898 149 / NCWA 532


From 1907 the Education Department published material for schools and teachers. The first edition of the School Journal – a monthly reader for primary schools – was also published that year. We hold many original artworks created for these publications.

illustration of a ship along a coast line
Reference: EW2144 Box 4


Bright coloured poster with block text 'cheap travel by train'
Reference: AAOK W3241 R18837562


Published posters

ABKI 805

Most of these posters were published by the Health Department; a few come from other New Zealand organisations such as the Milk Board, Apple and Pear Marketing Board, and Signal Toothpaste. There are also posters from organisations concerned with dental health in Australia, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Japan and Singapore.

Most of the posters do not have dates published on them. The earliest appears to be c1930s with a few from the 1940s and 1950s. From 1970 the posters cover various dental health subjects from healthy diets, and cleaning teeth, to fluoridation of water supply.

Poster album

ABKI 906

This album may have been for display purposes. On the bottom right corner of the cover it has "Please take care of this book" and a page inside has "As this book represents many hours of work done by Student Dental Nurses. Please be careful when looking through it and do not tear". The book was probably originally a wallpaper sample book.

Most of the posters have the students' names on them. They were painted at classes held at the Wellington Technical College. The subject matter of the posters is aimed at children and includes pictures of fruit and vegetables, teeth and toothbrushes, "Bertie Germ", milk and various animals.

From the style of the lettering and artwork of the posters, they appear to date from the 1940s.

illustrated poster of a man licking his fingers and turning a page
Reference: AAFB 24223 W2555 Box 35 / 35k / A3

Film and publicity

Poster of a hillside with trees and a train in the background
Reference: ABIN W3337 Box 206

Post office and Telecom

Former Post and Telegraph/Telecom Museum Holdings

ACFB 8106

This series is a collection extracted from the holdings of New Zealand Post Archives, which was part of the Post Office Museum and Archives.

Posters and sketches Boxes 139, 224-231, 237 

Telecom Museum Assorted Records

AAMF W3327

Engineer-in-Chief Portraits which are searchable by name Item 213

Several posters Items 366, 370, 478

Monument De L'union Postale Universelle, A Berne -Weltpost-Denkmal in Bern [painting] Item 373

Porirua Harbour, c1842 - A watercolour by S.C. Brees (1810-1865) of Thom's Whaling Station and Hotel entitled 'Porerua Harbour' Item 390

Post Office savings bank records

ABGT W5470

Several promotional posters for the Post Office.

24 cent postage stamp with a cute tabby cat illustration
Reference: AAME 8106 W5603 Box 125 9/12/463


Government Life Insurance Archives Collection 

ABJX 20415

Government Life Insurance records, collected and centralised in the organisation's Archives Section which appears to have been established in the mid-1960s. The Archives Section collected Government Life Insurance records considered to have historical or exhibitable value. The varied records include registered files, bound volumes, books, video tapes, film reels, audio tapes, microfilm, photographs, calendars and awards relating to sales agents, posters, various objects including print blocks, signage, advertising material, money boxes, company office seals, etc.

Events and commissions

New Zealand 1990 Commission Posters

ABLG W3781

The New Zealand 1990 Commission was established in 1988 to initiate activities and events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, 1000 years of known human habitation of New Zealand, and the 75th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. Posters were created for many events.

1993 Suffrage Centennial Year Trust Posters

ABKH 7365

The posters provide a record of the activities of the 1993 Suffrage Centennial Year Trust and some of the projects that they funded. A number of projects produced posters as part of their work. Where this is the case the project number is noted on the list.

Conservation Week Material and Artwork

AAZU W3619 - Boxes 53, 85-92, 113-117

Various artworks and posters for Conservation Week throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Miscellaneous records record group

AEFN 19057

These records consist of ephemera relating to the participation of the Industries and Commerce Department at Expo '70 in Osaka Japan. The items include cartoon artwork.

Technical drawings

Records comprised of patent specifications and drawings as well as design registers with drawings.

Copyright application files

AEGA 18981

These files often include copies of, or artistic representations of, the material being copyrighted. For more information on Patents and Copyright files see our Employment guide.

Atatū Residential Design Competition Records

AALF 6123

These records document the 1977 Te Atatū Residential Design Competition, sponsored by the National Housing Commission, at the request of the Minister of Housing, George Gair. A thirty-hectare site was chosen in Te Atatū, west Auckland. The competition brief called for the design of a comprehensive residential development, requiring the combined expertise of architects, engineers and planners. There were 44 entries, and 6 entries shared the prize money. The display graphics of these six form a substantial part of this series. These winning graphics were reproduced in the National Housing Commission's "Residential Design Competition 1977, Result and Report", a copy of which can be found in this series.

Research Reports National Housing Commission

AALF 6124

The National Housing Commission was set up in 1972 to sponsor research into various aspects of housing in New Zealand. The Commission sponsored 74 separate reports 1976-1987 before being devolved in 1988.

Artwork is attached to Research Papers produced by the Commission. For plans of privately built houses please see your local City Council. For plans of State Houses please contact Housing New Zealand.

technical drawing of a flying machine
Reference: ABPJ W4832 7396 Box 17 / 87637

National Airways

The New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC), established in 1946, was a government-run domestic airline, operating under its own Act of Parliament. The airline was run as a public utility, with a monopoly on scheduled domestic passenger air services. It was merged with the government-owned international airline, Air New Zealand Limited, on 1 April 1978.

National Airways Corporation artwork

AEPK 20230

NAC collected several artworks relating to its operations, including watercolours, sketches, and cartoons. The collection is made up of:

  • 7 black and white (ink) cartoons by Nevile Lodge cartoonist for "The Evening Post"

  • 2 black and white (ink) cartoons by Eric Heath cartoonist for "The Dominion"

  • 1 black and white (ink) cartoon by Gordon Minhinnick cartoonist for "The New Zealand Herald"

  • 1 black and white (ink) cartoon by Peter Bromhead

  • 6 watercolours by Earl Hingston

11 pencil/ink sketches by John H. Alexander The cartoons date from 1961 to 1977. The sketches and watercolours are undated.

All these items appear to be originals. The cartoons were published in "The Dominion", "The Evening Post", "The New Zealand Herald" and "The Auckland Star", and the watercolours by Earl Hingston were used in an NAC Annual Report in the 1970s.

National Airways Corporation ephemera

AEPK 20231

Ephemera collected by the NAC Library to document the history of the National Airways Corporation.

illustration of a woman lying on the beach in a bikini
Reference: ABIN W3806 24/folder 82 (R18183144)

Te Ao drawings

AAMK W3495 Boxes: 31a - 31k

Te Ao Hou was published from 1952 to 1976 by the Māori Affairs Department in New Zealand Aotearoa. It features bilingual content, with articles in both English and te reo Māori.

For more information and electronic copies please see the National Library Te Ao Hou website.

Restrictions relate to copyright. You may view images but not copy or publish them without permission from Te Puni Kōkiri.

an illustration of a coat of arms
Reference: ACGO 8341 IA9 Box 25/30 31 Part 1-3

Other artworks

Entries for the Coat of Arms Competitions 

ACGO 8341

Coat of Arms entries - 30 files - are dated 1906 and 1908. The first competition finalists were caught in the 1907 Parliamentary fire and the competition was run again in 1908. 


A collection of scrapbooks covering the main years of Seddon's political career, including 6 books of political cartoons dating from 1893-1906.

  • David Low Cartoons, Ronald Hipkins drawings and other sketches and paintings ACGO 8367 

  • Industries and Commerce Department Expo 1970 Cartoon panels AEFN 19057 18 

  • Cartoon artwork for New Zealand tourism publications [Restricted] ABKB 8032 W5234 4 27-28

Art on display