1889, Dunedin NZ – New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition

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1889 Dunedin

Name:New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition
Dates:26 Nov 1889 – 19 Apr 1890
Days:120 days
Venue:Land by Anderson’s Bay Road, Dunedin
– 5.1 ha (12.5 acres) – buildings 4 ha (10 acres)
Theme:To strengthen closer ties to the Australian colonies and other South Sea islands
Exhibitors:17 International participants
Visitors:Sources vary from 618,662 to 625,478
Legacy:Costs of £54,670 and recorded a modest profit

The New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition was intended as a commemoration of the Jubilee, the 50th anniversary, of British sovereignty over New Zealand by the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

It was held on Harbour Board land between Anderson’s Bay Road, Crawford Street Cumberland Street and Jervois Street in Dunedin.

This was run by a private organisation led by Jules Joubert and Richard Twopeny, supported by a subsidy of £10,000 from the government for the building of an Armament and Mineral Court, plus paying the expenses related to the Art Galleries.

1889 Dunedin external – Source: Hocken Library, University of Otago

The annex buildings were faced with corrugated iron, the Art Galleries were brick-built, The main entrance – shown above with its classical domes – was designed by local architect James Hislop. The main building’s main architectural feature was its dome, 24.4m (80 ft) high with a 15m (50 ft) diameter.

1889 the British Loan Collection on show

Exhibiting were the Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the UK, plus Australia, Ceylon, Fiji, Hawaii, India, Japan, Mauritius, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and the United States. Many of these shipped their exhibits mto Dunedin from the 1888 Melbourne Centennial Exhibition.

The event was opened by the Governor, Lord Winslow. Queen Victoria sent a message to say: The Queen heartily congratulates New Zealand on the marvellous progress made during the last fifty years, and on the signs of recovery from the recent temporary depression.

The exhibition ran over the summer until April 1890, and attracted 618,662 people (slightly fewer than the country’s total population at the time).

1889 Dunedin Otis Tower

Notable exhibits were: the Austral Otis Tower, a 40m (131 ft) high loose replica of the Eiffel Tower, used to demonstrate its elevators; an anthropometrial laboratory that tested and measured the faculties of 10,000 visitors – an idea taken from the 1884 London Health Exhibition; the Early History, Maori and South Seas Court, an ethnograohic display…

1889 Dunedin exhibit

The Art Gallery that was hailed as the most important art dispaly ever held in New Zealand – 1,500 works in six galleries including works by Durer, Mantegna and Rembrandt – this prompted a desire for a local public art gallery to be established.

1889 Diorama – Source: Alexander Turnbull Library

This glass case contained some of the wildlife found on Karewa Island off Tauranga. The diorama includes a muttonbird (or sooty shearwater) chick in its burrow, an adult bird above, two tuatara and, on the top of the burrow, three small geckos.

1889 Dunedin railway

Many were attracted by the amusement zone with its switch-back railway.

A mining conference was held within the exhibition in March 1890.

Many of the buildings were sold off at an auction following the exhibition.

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