Featured Photos


The Durie Hill Tower in Whanganui took six years to build and finally opened in 1925. It was dedicated to the memory of members of the armed services from the town of Whanganui and district who fell in what was then called the Great War, the massive world-wide conflict of 1914-1918. The tower has 176 steps from base to top floor level, and a height of about 35 metres from ground level to the top of the parapet. The photographer is unknown and the image was found in one of the Whanganui Historical Society photograph albums.
This photograph of a double image of the Wanganui Public Museum Director, Samuel Drew, was taken using trick photography, which was very popular in the late 19th century. Needing new ideas to boost business, photographers developed techniques to duplicate images, particularly people. Special plate-holders and rotating partial lens caps were used to expose half of the negative at a time. After the first exposure, the subject of the photograph would quickly move into a different positron so that the second half of the picture could be taken.
This photograph is of the Manganui-o-te-Ao River, a tributary of the Whanganui River, around the turn of the 20th century. There are signs of habitation, with planted crops and neat fences. The tents may have belonged to the party of the photographer, F J Denton. This image is one that provokes admiration at its composition, its atmosphere and its technical competence. It tells us a lot about what was happening on and around this cold tributary of the Whanganui River at the turn of the twentieth century and it shows how little the area has changed in comparison to the widespread loss of bush and river pollution in nearby places.
Imagine doing breathing exercises wearing the clothing that you can see in this photograph. Taken in 1905, it is of teachers at the Winter School in Whanganui, performing their daily warm-up. Winter School was the equivalent of today's teacher training days, where teachers come together and learn about the latest training methods and educational theories.
The Wanganui Amazon Carbineers were originally called the Girls and Ladies Khaki Corps. Organised throughout New Zealand during 1900 to support and raise money for New Zealand's involvement in the South African War, members of the Corps were mostly young women from well-to-do families who dressed in military style uniforms which they had to provide themselves for a cost of 17s 6d. This image was taken on Drews Avenue, outside the site of the old Wanganui Public Museum, now the Savage Club.
The Majestic Theatre, originally called His Majesty, was opened in 1913 and named for King George V who had ascended the throne in in 1910. It was built on lease land where the old St Marys Catholic Presbytery had once stood. The film on the Majestic's advertising hoarding,
A series of photographs of the business sector of Whanganui was taken by F H Bethwaite in 1939. In Bates Street one of the many hotels in Whanganui, the Commercial, is situated conveniently near to the Wanganui Brewery, just down the road. The bicycles propped against the wall of the pub would have belonged to the clientele inside.
St Johns Shell Service Station was located where Pak'n'Save is now, on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Glasgow Street in Whanganui. This image was taken in the 1920s and comes from the Tesla Studios Collection.
Dustins Ltd was a catering firm founded in Whanganui in 1880 by William Dustin. The firm was in business until 1957. During World War I Dustins ran the military canteens at Trentham and Featherston army camps. This photograph, taken in 1940, shows the Dustins Ltd shop at 43 Victoria Avenue in Whanganui. This photograph comes from the Tesla Studios Collection.
In 1940 the Alexander Library in Whanganui sent a stack of books to the Waiouru Military Camp for trainee soldiers and other military personnel as part of the war effort. The photograph shows staff members posed in front of the Library with a truck loaded and ready to go. This photograph comes from the Tesla Studios Collection.
This is a photograph, taken in the 1920s, of the interior of A D Willis, printers and booksellers of Whanganui. The company was established in 1872. From the outset, printing and the associated trades of bookbinding and stationery manufacture were the focus of the company. A D Willis was a stockist of books, stationery, fancy goods, games and novelties, with an extensive stock of newspapers and periodicals.
This photograph of McGruers Department Store was taken in 1912. The firm was first established in Invercargill in 1892. The Whanganui store, situated on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Guyton Street, opened for business on Saturday 2 December 1905.
The Wanganui Public Musuem was all dressed up to celebrate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Whanganui in January 1954. The photograph was taken and printed using a modified die transfer process, which involved three exposures on monochrome film through three basic colour filters. To allow for the large difference in exposure times between the images, flood lights were used. In order to manage the relatively short exposure times of the flood lights, the city engineer parked his car nearby. For each exposure, on the signal, he blew the car horn and a Museum staff member inside switched off the appropriate light. Each negative was printed by an enlarger onto special uncoated paper and then the three die images were transferred to the final full colour print.
Dating from the 1920s, taken from Cooks Gardens looking towards Queens Park in Whanganui, the feature of this photograph is the Sarjeant Art Gallery. The Sarjeant was built with the bequest of Henry Sarjeant. When he died in 1912, he left property in Whanganui valued at 30,000 pounds ($4,697,800 in today's money) in a trust for the purposes of building and maintaining an art gallery in his memory. The Sarjeant was opened in September 1919 by the Prime Minister the Right Honourable William Massy.
One of the more unusual ways of crossing the Whanganui River was undertaken by the aerialist Senor Vertelli. In October 1867 he walked the 300 metres across the river on a tight-rope. On his return crossing, he pushed a wheelbarrow.  Vertelli did offer to push a volunteer from the audience in the wheelbarrow, but no one took him up on his offer.
On 26 May 1904, following four days of continuous heavy rain, the Whanganui River rose to flood level. At the height of the flood over four feet of water spilled into on Taupō Quay and most of the businesses in the area were abandoned. This photograph shows the river  peaking just below the Town Bridge.
In Whanganui in January 1963 there was an elephant race from the Town Bridge, up Victoria Avenue, to the DIC Department Store, a distance of 274 metres. This photograph is of the winning elephant sitting outside the DIC. After the race two elephants entered the DIC and one of them signed autographs with a rubber stamp held in its trunk. They stayed in the store for a short period of time before returning to their home at the Bullen Circus.
In 1908, Victoria Avenue in Whanganui was dug up so that the lines for the new municipal tram lines could be laid. The
This photograph of a ski instructor showing the other skiers a ski move, was probably taken on Mt Ruapehu in the early 20th  century.
 

FEATURED PHOTO

Dustins Ltd was a catering firm founded in Whanganui in 1880 by William Dustin. The firm was in business until 1957. During World War I Dustins ran the military canteens at Trentham and Featherston army camps. This photograph, taken in 1940, shows the Dustins Ltd shop at 43 Victoria Avenue in Whanganui. This photograph comes from the Tesla Studios Collection.