Archive for the ‘Canterbury clothing’ Category

Yearly Appeal

In Air New Zealand, Auckland Yellow Buses, Auckland Zoo, Bata Bullets, Bournville Cocoa, Bramley Doll Repairs, Canterbury clothing, Chic Littlewood, Children's toys, Chocolate Crackles, Crewe murders, D.H.Davis & Co, Dunedin Railway Station, Edmonds, ethnographic sexualised cliché, Freddy Fruit Salad, Gaiter Tyre Co, Ginger Gems, Goodnight Kiwi, Griffin’s, Hi Life Yoggit, Holdsons games, Holeproof socks, John and Betty book series, Kellogg's rice bubbles, Kiwi Bacon Company, Kremelta copha, Leo O'Malley's men's clothing, Maycey's, Māori culture, N.Z. Honey Marketing Authority., New Zealand Department of Education, New Zealand Post Office, Para Rubber, Pat Booth journalist, Pulmonas throat pastilles, Ready To Read book series, Ryko toys, Shum's stores Dunedin, Speedee appliances, Stacey Brothers, Sunday School Union building, TEAL Airways, Terribly un-P.C., Tidy Kiwi campaign, Tourism art, Tourism posters, Tourist souvenirs, Unity Hall Auckland, Witches Britches, Worthy Manufacturing Tailors, Wrigley's chewing gum on January 6, 2015 at 10.46

1- 134 likes, 19 shares Maori dolls

The number one most popular image for 2014, by a long shot, was this trio of Māori dolls. Someone remarked that they like to think of them as “cultural representatives”. Yeah, of people’s living rooms in the 1970s. Then following that –  garage sales, which is where you see them most of the time these days. I’m not sure if they’ve regained their hip factor – I suspect they never had one in the first place. Still, they bring back many happy memories for people and that’s what ultimately counts.


When I began this blog, I had a very clear-cut agenda – and my goal was to post at least once a week. As I got deeper into the research aspect, I quickly developed standards about the stories –  and the frequency dropped down to a fortnightly post, to accommodate that. By 2013 I had resumed tertiary education – and with much struggle, I managed to keep this pace up for a while, before it finally dropped off to a story a month towards the end of the year. This year I only published a pitiful fifteen articles. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t constantly thinking about it, having ideas, as well as researching and recording data.

Many people contacted me and sent in advertising and packaging items they thought I’d be interested in, or gave me good tip-offs, and also some great photos were uncovered via the History Always Repeats page on Facebook – which is on its way to 2,400 members. This is the stuff that makes it worthwhile. However, along with the good things, I had a serious moment this year when I was going to press the *deactivate* button on everything  and quit. Something kept stopping me whenever I got close. I am still trying to reconcile the situation. It brings me back to that unpleasant topic of being ripped off again.

I have again battled, on more than one occasion this year, people taking and selling my work for commercial purposes. I don’t know if I end up on the receiving end of this more than anyone else in a similar position; but I can tell you that it gets bloody boring having to tackle these issues. One instance was a very well-known TV production company, which I won’t get into too much detail over. They were cooperative and the matter was settled to my satisfaction –  so there’s no need to go into it, since they clearly didn’t want a fuss made. What I just can’t believe is that people would go on prime time TV and lie they found my stuff second hand in a vintage store. The audacity of it was outrageous. That’s all I’m saying on the subject.

More recently a jerk in the U.K. took my posters and reproduced them as metal signs. I’ve prevented him from selling them as best I can – but I was not compensated, and I have no other way to stop him permanently. Just retouching on this topic makes my blood pressure start rising, so moving along to the yearly summary before something bursts…

The top reads for 2014 were quite different to the previous year, with some new entries. My piece on the number one Kiwi-established  chocolate manufacturer “A Sticky Business: Whittaker’s” took out  the top spot yet again with around 1,100 people reading the story.

The next most-read was a new entry; my story on the James Smith department stores of Wellington.

This was followed by my history of the ever-popular hokey pokey – which was another new charter at number three most-read.

Number four was my piece on that Boomer icon Moggy Man, formerly the TT2; dropping down from the number two slot last year.

And the number five most read story was on New Zealand’s most successful commercial artist Bernard Roundhill – who designed so many things over his decades-long career – that everyone is familiar with at least one whether it’s the Air New Zealand Koru, the Teachatot game or  the Bycroft biscuits running boy.

An interesting thing I’ve noted previously – and is consistent – short stories get a huge number of reads in the short term, but this never lasts. It’s always the longest, rambling stories – the ones I think people would generally not have patience for – that come out on top.

Finally, the History Always Repeats  page got a long overdue sister Twitter account, so if you’re a member of that social media platform then please follow me there. I try to post stuff that’s different from Facebook.

Without further delay, here’s the top fifty most popular images for the last year as rated by readers and members. You can congratulate  yourself  for some interesting, and at times unusual,  choices. All the best to my readers and members for 2015.


2 - 103 L 39 S The Mount Maunganui motor camp and beach, 1960s, by Gladys M Goodall

2. The second most popular image was Mount Maunganui motor camp, taken in the 1960s, by Gladys M. Goodall – who began photography in the 1940s, selling images to bus tours. It wasn’t long before her work caught the attention of leading publishers Whitcombe & Tombs; at their behest she travelled to every nook and cranny countrywide to get her pictures. In the days before digital manipulation, the lengths she went to in capturing the exact shot she required were quite amazing – even bribing firemen to shovel more coal into a train’s engine for just the right amount of smoke. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, ref GG-02-0466-1.


3 - 93 L 15 S

3. This not-particularly-good photo of an unopened packet of P.K. chewing gum, which the seller says dates from the early 1970s (dubious), came in at number three. Wrigley’s product was present in New Zealand from the 1910s; it was first imported from the U.S., then manufacturing switched to Rosebery in Sydney, Australia in the Twenties. It took until the 1950s for it to be made domestically.


4 -  92 L 19 S  vinyl covered foot rest probably dates from the second half of the 1960s to the early 1970s.

4. This vinyl-covered footrest probably dates from the second half of the 1960s-early 1970s. Almost ubiquitous – dozens of people came out with stories of their family’s own special poof –  even my grandparents had one of these in beige and brown. The parallel discussion was whether the latter name was still P.C., and if  it was still appropriate to sit on one at a party.


5 - 88 likes Chicaboom - Copy

5. Cecil (Chic) Littlewood had success in children’s shows of the 1970s-1980s with  shows “Now C Here”, “Chica Boom” and “Chic Chat”. British-born, as such his variety-style kid’s programs were influenced by traditional English style of music hall and holiday camp shows. In 1964 he gained interest from the BBC; however he had already decided to emigrate to New Zealand. It wasn’t long before his characters such as Cockney “Golf Cap Charlie” got him attention on Kiwi television, and the rest is history. As prime time success wound down, he had involvement in the Basil Brush Show, then segued into serious acting. However for a generation of kids he will always be remembered for characters like Willie McNabb. You can see a 1981 episode here.


6 - 86 L 24 S  Members of the 28th Maori Battalion performing a haka in the Western Desert in Egypt

6. Māori Members of the armed forces performing the Haka in the Western Desert, Egypt, July 1941. Formed in 1940 as part of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF), the 28th  Battalion had a deserved  reputation as fearsome fighters; they were the most decorated battalion in WWII.  This image, edited by Doug Banks for website Colourise History, went viral and caused consternation as usual. Apart from that contingent of the public who always somehow find a reason to be offended about anything at all – some rusted-on old photography purists seemingly felt that changing the picture from its original compromises the integrity.


7 - 68 L 28 S  The Goodnight Kiwi and Cat

7. The Goodnight Kiwi was illustrated by one of New Zealand’s most celebrated commercial cartoonists Sam Harvey, whose animation house was also responsible for Ches and Dale. Kiwi and his cat pal were introduced in 1975 as a sign-off for end of broadcast each night on Channel 2. Yes, it used to go dead as many will remember. With today’s 24/7 coverage of everything, it’s pretty hard to imagine a TV screen going depressingly blank, but that’s how it was. Kiwi was retired in 1994 but was revived in 2007. Not sure what the status is, as a campaign was established in 2012 demanding he be brought back.


8 - 62 L 19 S David Shum outside his fruit and veg shop, Caversham Valley, Dunedin, 1983

 8. Local Dunedin personality David Shum outside his “oasis” of a fruit and veg shop, Caversham Valley, 1983. The name was actually spelled Quun, but the Shums, who still own the Four Square store in the area, phonetically anglicised it for ease. Image courtesy of Owain Morris collection via the Growing Up In Dunedin page.


9 -58 L sliding and flying Ready to Read series, Ministry of Education

9. “Sliding and Flying” from the “Ready To Read” series of books – is one of only  two repeat entries from last year’s top fifty. I believe this series was issued  around 1970, although the Ministry of education had been publishing from the 1920s onwards.


10 - 56 L 11 S New Zealand Post Office savings books

10. New Zealand Post Office savings “books” were actually piggy banks. They were literally shaped like a leather book, but underneath the cover was a tin container with a lock. They’re not so common now but used to be easy to find. These were issued from the late 1950s through early 1980s, although by the latter decade they were plastic.


11 - 56 L K Road doll repairs

11. Back in the day, things were made to last – And when they finally did break or wear out you’d take them to get fixed instead of just throwing them in the trash. Bramley’s was present in Karangahape Road, Auckland, for quite some time as this post got an excited response from many baby boomers with sad stories of cracked toys – and then their subsequent jubilance at the return of the item in one piece – courtesy of this business. This advert was published in the Woman’s Weekly in late 1946.


12- 55 L Air New Zealand Tiki, 1970s

12. The Air New Zealand Tiki, 1970s, was once handed to every passenger as a comp; these often ended up with the kids upon someone’s return from an overseas jaunt. “Oh, here – I got you something.” Gee, thanks. This also made it on to last year’s list attesting to its sentimental appeal.


13 - 54 L 6 S  so far CHECK Auckland Zoo dragon

13. A postcard of the Auckland Zoo’s big concrete playground  dragon, with its frighteningly sharp and dangerous teeth (later dramatically filed down),  was on last year’s list.  Shona Moilliet  submitted this photo of herself, with her brother in its mouth, taken around 1962. Photos of the dragon are seemingly far and few between, so thanks to her for sharing this great image with us.


14 - 54 likes 2 shares Para Pools, New Zealand Woman's Weekly, October 1974

14. Splashing water and shrieking from back yards is the throwback sound of summer for most. This advert for the very popular pools from Para Rubber resonated with many – it was published in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, October 1974.


15 - 51 L 36 S The Kiwi Bacon factory and classic Auckland yellow bus, photographed in the 1980s

15. Two classics in one: The Kiwi Bacon factory and a yellow bus, photographed in Auckland, in the 1980s. The revolving figure from the roof of the factory is apparently now on top of the Auckland Airport Kiwi Motel, McKenzie Road, Mangere. Image courtesy of and © Robin Morrison.


16 - 51 like 3 share Red plastic telephone.

16. Most people remember these dial telephones – which were still in use in our household into the late 1980s – in a dull olive tone. However these rarer brightly coloured ones are highly sought after in good condition. In particular mint green ones typically reach hundreds these days. Image courtesy of Teacup and Saucer – vintage, retro and handmade collectable items. 


17 - 51 likes 3 shares Tellow bus Karangahape Rd, Auckland in 1980

17. Trolleybus ARA No. 102, working the Queen Street Shuttle. Photographed outside O’Malley’s men’s clothing (which is still present today) on the corner of  Karangahape Road at Pitt Street, June 1980. Image courtesy of and © Leroy W. Demery, Jr.


18 - 46 L 26 S Witches Britches knee-length underwear packet by Lane Walker Rudkin, probably 1960s

18. Witches Britches were knee-length underwear by Canterbury commonly worn by many under college gym frocks of the 1960s and 1970s. Mary Henson recalls: “We wore them to cover up the horrible gap between undies and stocking tops. Miss Pugh would not hear of us wearing tights. We had to wear black!  Absolutely NO coloured lace, or off to detention for you my girl!” Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.


19 - 44 L 15 S Chocolate Crackles, Woman's Weekly, July 1964

  1. That perennial kiddie’s favourite, Chocolate Crackles – religiously made with Cadbury’s “Bournville” cocoa, Kremelta copha, Kellogg’s rice bubbles, and CSR icing sugar. This image from the Woman’s Weekly, July 1964.


20 - 44 likes 2 shares Mr and Mrs Ward with Pamela, Carolyn and Muriel Clark standing next to their car in Kawakawa, 1950s.

20. Mr. and Mrs. Ward, along with Pamela, Carolyn and Muriel Clark, standing next to their car in a Kawakawa street, sometime in the 1950s. I remember travelling rural Aotearoa in the Eighties, and many small towns still looked like this! Photo by Ron Clark, courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, Record ID 1207-1655.


21 - 44 L 2 S Ginger Gems  irons, manufactured by D.H.Davis & Co Auckland & Christchurch, likely in the late 1970s

21. One of my earlier primary school memories is the domestic education classes where we made Ginger Gems with these typical irons; these ones manufactured by D.H.Davis & Co Auckland & Christchurch, are likely to date from the late 1970s. Original image courtesy of Dave Lapthorne.


22 - 44 L The Stars in the Sky, Ready to Read series, Ministry of Education, published 1970.

22. “Stars in the Sky” from the New Zealand Department of Education’s “Ready To Read” series, published circa 1970. These books are one of two repeat entries from last year’s top fifty – and as exhibited by entry 9 – the only double-up in this year’s list (last year it was all about milk products and blankets). Besides “Sliding and Flying”, 0ther books in the series of  six were “The Hungry Lambs”, “The Dragon’s Egg” “Sweet Porridge”, and “Boat Day.”


23 - 43 L 3 S Old Fashioned Raspberry Drops from Auckland company Mayceys

23. I remember Old Fashioned Raspberry Drops from the 1970s, but they’ve probably been around much longer. Made by Auckland company Mayceys, who were also responsible for other classics like Glo Harts, Sweet Cents, Blackberries & Raspberries, and Emerald Drops. However the Stacey Brothers made their big money in cough lozenges and pastilles from the 1910s onwards; Pulmonas, Eukols, Bants and Lixoids to name some successful ones – as well as  Kurols  – which are still available in Countdown supermarkets.


24 - 42 L 5 S Playmates  from the The John and Betty readers series, published in New Zealand by Whitcombe & Tombs, 1950s

24. “Playmates”  from the “John and Betty” readers series, published in New Zealand and Australia by Whitcombe & Tombs, 1950s. It was apparently an English series “Janet and John” originally.  This is the third entry in this top fifty for Ready To Read publications. A number of these types of out-of-date books showcasing a carefree, perfect post-war life were very much in use when I was at school – and along with the old “Murder House” health posters – it was like being stuck in another era. Image courtesy of Rosie at Westleigh College Northcote blog. 


25 - 39 likes Holeproof walk socks

25. Walk socks: Guaranteed to make hot blonde chicks get out their Duraware for you. This image from an Intact Holeproof package of the 1970s. The consensus is that they seem to have been particularly popular with teachers, for some reason.


26 -38 L 12 S Dew Drop Inn Douglas saddle C 1910

26. “Dew Drop Inn” was a tacky, generic name popular in the 1950s-1960s era; when we were growing up, there was a local fruit shed named this, decked out with a sequin sign. However the moniker apparently goes back much further. This one served booze aplenty as demonstrated by the window wares. Perhaps over-indulgence is the reason why one of the fellows has clambered on the bull instead of his horse. It was supposedly situated in Douglas Saddle, Taranaki around the 1910s. However Auckland historian Lisa Truttman raises questions on the location (and perhaps even the country of provenance) – as the only known Dew Drop wasn’t a Taranaki establishment – but in Kaiteratahi, Poverty Bay area, and much earlier. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, ref  MNZ-0698-1/4-F.


27 - 38 likes Carefree Holidays

27. “Carefree Holidays”, silkscreen tourism advertisement  poster created between 1930-1940,  artist unknown, image courtesy of the Library of Congress collection Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. USA. 


28 - 37 likes 4 shares Griffin's biscuit tin, featuring a picture of a cat

28. Kitsch classics: Serving Family batch realness with  a 1970s Griffin’s biscuit tin, featuring a picture of a cat of course, and Nanna’s crochet blanket. The beach shack was where all items, that were too out of date or ugly  to have in the house, but weren’t yet ready to be discarded because it was unethical for whatever reason, went to serve a second term until death. It was like the penal colony for household goods – and House and Garden it wasn’t.


29 - 36 likes 14 shares War Dog of New Zealand postcard

29. “War Dog of New Zealand” postcard issued 1914-1915. Artist and provenance unknown,  Image courtesy of The New Zealand Journal blog.


30 - 36 L 4 S The Dunedin Railway Station's spectacular mosaic floor

30. The Dunedin Railway Station’s spectacular mosaic  floor is made up of hundreds of thousands of Minton (later Royal Doulton) tiles. The decorations, first  laid in 1906, also encompass friezes around the walls. The original floor consisted of 725,760 half inch porcelain squares, manufactured especially, and imported from England.  It was replaced by a replica in 1965 when it became necessary to rebuild the floor on new foundations. Image courtesy of Owain Morris collection.


31 - 36 L 3 S Portrait of Princess Ngaperapuna, probably late C19th

31. Portrait of Princess Ngaperapuna, probably late 19th Century, hand-coloured by yours truly. Not much to be known about her except that this image was taken sometime between 1890 and 1920, and the photographer has not managed to be identified in most collections, but looks like it was taken by Josiah Martin – as there is anther unidentified shot of Ngaperapuna in a picture called “Two wahine in Cloaks” by him, that looks like it was done in the same session. This would mean it was taken before 1916.  Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection, Online prints and photographs catalogue, U.S. Library of Congress. Call Number: LOT 11356-15.


32 - 36 likes 3 shares Poster for the Matson Line to New Zealand by Louis Macouillard

32. Poster for the Matson Line to New Zealand, created in the USA, 1955, by Louis Macouillard (1913-1987). Image courtesy of  The Image Gallery.


33 - 35 likes

33. This chromolithograph Yuletide banner was published by A. R. Hornblow & Son of Wellington, circa 1920. Image courtesy of the Manuscript and Pictorial Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, ref Eph-D-CHRISTMAS-1920-01.


34 - 35 L 3 S An old metal lamp and a Edmonds baking powder tin

34. A rustic scene and nothing more: An old metal lamp and an Edmonds baking powder tin. The classic “red lead” colour of the paint on the wood elicited a few memories too.


35 - 34 L 2 S Tidy Kiwi campaign

35. The “Tidy Kiwi” campaign has been such a hit – it has run for decades now – encouraging New Zealanders to keep it nice. This promotional badge dates from the 1970s.


36 - 33 L 4 S Pedal car, possibly by Ryko, a toy maker in the Wellington area in the 1960s

36. A children’s pedal car, believed to be by Ryko, a manufacturer of strollers  and toys  in the Wellington area in the early 1960s.


37 - 31 likes Maori possessed doll

37. Before Annabelle: If you want a doll that just sits in the corner and eats your soul with its empty black eye sockets, or if you’re even luckier clambers onto your bed at two in the morning and stands over you with a kitchen knife until you wake up – then I think I’ve found the one for you. 


38 - 30 L 11 S Silver threepence coin,1936

38. Silver threepence coin, issued 1936. King George V was on the reverse side.


39 - 30 L 5 S John Powell, unlawfully killing sheep with intent to steal sentenced to two years, in 1889.

39. John Powell, charged with unlawfully killing a sheep with intent to steal the carcass, and subsequently sentenced to two years, in 1889. Other crimes: Randomly appearing in children’s dreams and terrifying them forever. See more old New Zealand mug shots in one of  New Zealand: History & Natural History’s “Rogue’s Gallery” here.


40 - 30 L 3 S MAORI PERFORMANCE TROUPE Whenuapai airport in the mid 1950s, with the plane being a DC-6

40. Photo of a Māori performance group on the tarmac with a TEAL DC-6 plane, likely at Whenuapai Airport; the hostess uniform  was in use from 1958 to 1961, giving a fairly accurate date. I guess it’s probably a promotional image of some kind  – yet looks a bit informal for that. I don’t know for what purpose it was taken, whether it was some kind of special event, such as greeting the arrival of someone famous or important; and there is  no knowledge of the image’s provenance.


41 - 30 likes 2 shares Iconic footwear Bata Bullets are back

41. Iconic footwear “Bata Bullets” are back as of November 2014, in stores around the country  – in the exact original style. Founded in Czechoslovakia in the 1890s and becoming a global company with an innovative, socially conscious philosophy that was way ahead of its time – Bata New Zealand was formed in 1948 with the first factory opening at Owhiro Bay, Wellington, in 1951 producing slippers.  Bullets were being produced by 1969 and the line had sold about 10 million pairs by 1974.  


42 -28 like 4 share From a postcard entitled Maori Beauty, dated 1906

42. From a postcard entitled “Māori Beauty”, dated 1906. Although reducing cultures to an ethnographic sexualised cliché  was nothing unusual the world over, going way back –  this one is pretty tame and innocent, as most of the Kiwi ones were. This one, not quite so much.


43 - 27 L 2 S freddy Fruitsalad Sticker set published from 1980 to promote Hi Life Yoggit

43. Freddy Fruit Salad, as part of a Sticker set published from 1980 through the first half of the decade, to promote Hi Life Yoggit. These stickers were popular on leather school satchels and exercise books (well, maybe not this particular one). The dodgy stereotypes did not go unnoticed, apparently resulting in school age children dubbing the brand “Lo Life”. This one definitely made it into the ” Terribly Un-Politically Correct File”. Image courtesy of Steve Williams collection.


44 - 27 L 2 S Magnetic Chinese Checkers, issued by Holdson games, 1974

44. No seat belts: Magnetic Chinese Checkers, issued by Holdson games, 1974. I certainly remember playing this; and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a household that didn’t have this in their games cupboard.


45 - 26 l 2 s Upper queen st 1928 unity hall

45. About seven years before my Grandpa Joseph moved his business in: Looking up the west side of upper Queen Street, Auckland to where Mayoral Drive meets it today. Looking from the corner of Airedale Street showing the Sunday School Union building aka Unity Hall, the tallest building with the arched windows on the first floor at the end of block. Worthy Manufacturing was on the second (the top) level for around twenty years making suits, uniforms, coats and dresses – and shared the building with another tailoring business – Standard Coat & Costume Co. The building still stands and has a Christian bookshop at street level. It’s suspected to have been snapped on a Sunday – hence the very quiet street. Photographed January 1928, by James D. Richardson. Image courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, ref 4-1919.


46 -26 likes 4 shares William Hugh Mawhinney and William S. Johnson outside 87 Albert Street, Auckland

46. Free air: Lisa Masterton sent me this fantastic image found amongst her late uncle’s possessions; and she was interested to know what the significance was. Turns out, one of the men is her uncle’s father William Hugh Mawhinney. Gaiter Tyre Co gets its earliest mention in May 1921. Mawhinney and William S. Johnson, who established the Auckland company, stand outside 87 Albert Street, Auckland in the early Twenties. The business advertised between 1923-1931 later at 60 Albert Street, then 95 Albert Street. However number 87 continued to have a history associated with automotives; It was home to Auckland Motor Co at the end of the 1920s and then through the 1930s the Independent Motor Co. I love how you can still see in the background cosy looking houses, a horse and barn, remaining right in the middle of the city at that time, a far cry from today’s streetscape. 


47 -26 likes 4 shares Glass magic lantern slide, hand-inscribed with the text Guide Susan, wife of Maori Policeman, Rotorua

47. Lots of Māori stuff made it onto the list this year; there are ten entries relating to indigenous Aotearoa. Are people more culturally conscious, or have I just posting more in that category? A glass magic lantern slide, hand-inscribed with the text “Guide Susan, wife of Māori Policeman, Rotorua.” Era unknown, possibly 1900s-1910s. Strangely, this was produced in Carlton, Victoria, Australia – when there were certainly plenty of businesses in New Zealand at the time that created these.


48 - 26 L 4 S Speedee electric jug, Auckland Star, November 1935.

48. Unbreakable! Well, apparently. Advert for an early electrical appliance, the Speedee jug, Auckland Star, November 1935. Speedee were around for many decades, and I remember appliances like water heaters from when I was a youngster; many Boomers remembered these particular kettles – of which the design remained unchanged through the years. 


49 -26 likes 4 shares The All Blacks Book for Boys, By Pat Booth, 1960.

49. The All Blacks Book for Boys, By Pat Booth, 1960. An early publication by veteran journalist and activist Booth, who  has long been considered one of the country’s finest press members. He is principally noted for proving that police planted evidence which falsely implicated Arthur Allan Thomas in the infamous Crewe murders –  not only one of  New Zealand’s greatest unsolved cases but also one of the most controversial in history.


50 - 26 L Pure NZ Honey tins were one of a number of periodically issued generic containers 1950s and 1960s.

50. These “Pure New Zealand Honey” tins were one of a number of periodically issued generic containers over the decades by the N.Z. Honey Marketing Authority. I’d say they date from the 1950s and 1960s. I’ve counted at least twenty different apiaries around the country that issued their product in this particular can design. 


All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2014. All rights reserved.


History Department: James Smith And His Store

In Alexander Pringle Smith, Canterbury clothing, Cuba Street, Cuba Street Wellington, Department Store, Drapery, Erskine College, Erskine College Wellington, Fagg's Coffee, Farmer's, Farmer's Co-op, Farmer's Trading Co., George Winder, Howard Williams Smith, Hudson and Halls, James Smith & Sons, James Smith Limited department stores, James Smith Market, James Smith's Corner, L D Nathan & Co Ltd, Manners Street Wellington, Smith and Caugheys, Te Aro House, The New House, Turnbull Smith & Co, Whitcombe and Tombs, Witcombe & Caldwell, Xmas Parade on January 27, 2014 at 10.46

1 blue_80g_carrier_bag edit copy

A recreation of a James Smith store shopping bag that was for sale on Trade Me recently. I’ve reconstructed it using a plain paper bag and remade the graphics on to it. With its Deco styling it looks quite old, but in fact- the term “retail therapy” wasn’t created until the 1980s.


So here we are back in Wellington. I don’t think we’ve been around since I covered a story on Fuller Fulton a couple of years back. However don’t let that fool you; the place was a hub for all things Longwhitekiddish. Is that not a word? Well, it is now.

When I recently covered the story on the Erskine College cache, one of the catalogued items was an old tag from a school uniform garment that had been fitted to measure – and the item had been torn off the article of clothing and discarded down a hole under some loose flooring by the lazy boarder. I was asked for assistance in dating these items and as I looked into each article I naturally investigated James Smith, which was the name printed on it -to see if I would get any clues that would narrow a time frame. Yes, I went off on another tangent.

2  james_smith_corner copy

James Smith building, image courtesy of  and © Decoworks Pty Ltd.


2c  View of unidentified woman modelling at a fashion show at James Smiths Ltd, Wellington, 1959 and mural edit copy

Unidentified woman  photographed in the James Smith Tearooms in between modelling at a fashion show, 1959. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper, Alexander Turnbull Library. Ref: EP/1959/2946-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


It turned out to be rather a local institution – dating well back into Victorian times. Such an institution, in fact – that Like Stewart Dawson’s, the business has given its name to the intersection. All windy city locals, if they didn’t know the landmark for the store – know it for the name. In fact to a point that the locale is just referred to as “James Smith Market” or even more simply “James Smith” , and businesses like “Life Pharmacy James Smith”. ” James Smith Basement Cabaret”, and “Starmart James Smith” are named after it. Even the car park just around the corner from the store site at 162 Wakefield Street is named after him. The man’s name lives on, for sure. So who was he?

2C1A  McCall pattern James Smith, Ltd, Cuba and Manners St Wellington1940

Imported American McCall pattern. from James Smith, Ltd, 1940. Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: Eph-B-COSTUME-1940-03-front. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


2c1B 8740306826_daf0f1bfa2 James Smith Ltd were a garment and show store in Wellington poss Cuba St

Tag from an altered-to-measure school uniform garment, probably early 1960s, found under the floor of Erskine College. Image courtesy of and  © Kylie Walker.


James Smith (1834-1902) was one of the area’s earlier settlers, travelling to New Zealand on the Prince of Wales and arriving in June 1863, to Port Chalmers. On the voyage with his wife Annie, he kept a record of the trip, the passengers and goings on. The tooled Moroccan leather-covered book is now in the National Library of New Zealand collection (it was also later issued as a promotional publication by his company in 1967).

2C1C 2 72680117 copy

Keeping an old lady all schmick. Image courtesy of and  © Fritz Schöne on Panoramio.


2c2  Colgate Soaky bubble bath 1963  Donald Duck & Mickey Mouse for James Sith Stores NLNZ edit copy

Soaky bubble bath by Colgate. Photographed for James Smiths Ltd promotional material. K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: 1/2-212939-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New ZealandThere was a huge archive of photos pertaining to James Smith Ltd and I had to edit a selection down from hundreds of images to under seventy for this article.


He had been born near Edinburgh, Scotland and early in life entered the soft goods trade in the Melrose area, soon proving to be adept and very confident in sales. After some time gaining experience in his home country, he moved on to London where he stayed for five years with drapers James, Shoolbred and Co. Upon arrival in the South Island of Aotearoa he immediately made for Wellington, where he found employment with the wholesale firm of W. and G. Turnbull and Co., quickly rising to management of their drapery department.

He stayed in this position for three years, then he purchased and established his business in 1866. Beginning on his own he quickly became very successful. The department store was ensconced in Te Aro House, 84-92 Cuba Street, Wellington – which had previously operated as Mary Taylor’s Drapery.

2c4  Wellington Santa Parade, sponsored by James Smiths Ltd copy

The James Smith Xmas Parade: All images Negatives of the Evening Post from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. Clockwise from top left: Refs: EP/1958/4005-F, EP/1958/3999-F, EP/1958/4008-F, and EP/1958/4000-F.


2ca  James Smith's store Te Aro House copy

James Smith’s store Te Aro House, 1866-1898. Apparently the building still stands and is now known as the Deka building, and hosts a Rodney Wayne hair salon amongst others. Image courtesy of ngairedith on Family Tree Circles.


In 1877 he started an additional business, when he became partners with one of his previous employers, Walter Turnbull. Turnbull Smith & Co., operated from Customhouse Quay until 1888 when it was acquired by Sargood, Son and Kwen.

He rebuilt a new store on the Te Aro House site in 1886, designed by Thomas Turnbull. This was likely spurred by a fire in the building of 1885. He remained here in the new premises (diversifying from fabric into menswear, boyswear, and hosiery) through to 1898 when his business suffered financial collapse.

2cb diary-te aro house  copy

L: James Smith’s Diary, kept on his voyage to New Zealand 1863. It was later republished by the business in the 1960s.  Ref: MSX-3502. R:  James Smith (on left) with his staff, Te Aro House in the late 1870s.Ref: PAColl-3332-11-3. Both images from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. 


2cc  Te Aro House - James Smith etc 4 versions

Clockwise from top left: James Smith and staff at Te Aro House, 1880, Ref: PAColl-3332-17-2. Te Aro House, in 1924 after the Smiths were no longer associated with it, Ref: 1/1-038758-F.  The New House (James Smith & Sons), 1900, Ref: PAColl-3332-17-1. James Smith Store before 1932, Ref:  EP-0585-1F/2-G. All images from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


Nevertheless, he quickly bounced back – investing in slightly spiffier premises in Cuba Street. A photo from James Smith Ltd Collection in the Alexander Turnbull Library, shows a different building with the business now called James Smith and Sons. Apparently this was known as “The New House”, and it was situated on the northwest corner of Dixon and Cuba opposite the Te Aro House building. The new business motto was “famous for low prices.”

2cd New House premises was on the corner of Dixon and Cuba Streets opposite the Te Aro House building

Cart from James Smith & Sons’  “The New House” on Cuba and Dixon Streets, Wellington, circa 1902. Ref: PAColl-3332-11-1. Image from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


2Ce james_smith_corner foyer 2 copy 1

The  foyer of the James Smith department store building in 2009. Image courtesy of  and © Decoworks Pty Ltd.


James Smith had by accounts been in ill health for some time when he died at his Wellington home, and had stepped back from the business just after The New House had opened. Management then passed to one of the two sons Alexander Pringle Smith (1873-1948). The other offspring involved in running the business was J. G. Smith – and there were also five daughters from the union. However James continued to advise both of them in business matters until just a couple of weeks before he passed away.

Upon his demise the business was described as “the largest drapery establishment in the North Island”, and he as a “most enterprising, popular and progressive colonist.” By this time he was wealthy and influential – being one of the original shareholders and one of the chairmen of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company and a member of the New Zealand Board of Directors of the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia. The Justice Department hold a record of a coronial inquest into James’ death but what the reasons were behind this inquiry, I don’t know. He was interred in Kaori Cemetery.

2CG Miss Mollie Massey and unidentified collegue at James Smith Ltd department store, Wellington women underwear 1959 edit

Miss Mollie Massey and colleague at James Smith store Ladies’ Undergarments department, 1959. Ref: EP/1959/0516-F. Image from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


2CG1  FAGGS NZ COFFEE BAGS vintage  3 designs edit copy

Local brand Fagg’s coffee, established in Wellington in 1926, were behind the coffee bars and lounges in all of the James Smith departments stores. These bags are possibly from the 1970s.


The final and grandest building, which the business was to remain in for more than 85 years, was on the corner of Cuba and Manners Streets in the Te Aro area of Wellington – at 49-55 Cuba Street to be precise. It had originally been constructed for ironmonger and importer George Winder In 1907 by architects Penty and Blake. He had owned the land since 1898 and ergo, it was known as “Winders’ Building “. His business “like many others, had deteriorated due to his inability to obtain stocks from overseas due to the dearth of shipping caused by the First World War”, according to Don Ratcliffe, who worked as a message boy through 1921 and recalls the work of the move from one premises to another in detail, when James Smith and Sons purchased it in 1921. In 1932 the entire building was revamped to its current look by King and Dawson, with interior murals by Ruffo and Steve Templer – making it into an iconic landmark of the downtown area.

2D1  book department 1966 whitcombe and tombs JAMES SMITHS NLNZ copy

The Whitcombe & Tombs book department at James Smith, K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: 1/2-210236-FCourtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


2d1  Mr Doug Smith of James Smith Ltd 1956  JAMES SMITHS NLNZ edit

Mr Doug Smith, James Smith’s grandson, eventually became the managing director in the 1950s. This portrait taken 1956, Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper, Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: 1/2-210236-FCourtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


By this time directorship had passed to subsequent Smith descendants – Alexander Pringle Smith ‘s sons Howard Williams Smith (1912-1993), and his sibling J.G. Smith Jr. Eventually by the late 1950s it was in the control of grandson Douglas Alexander Smith – and from then on A.P. Smith was only occasionally seen pottering about the halls.

At the time of the early 1930s image overhaul, the store was divided into departments for the first time consisting of Haberdashery, Manchester, Dress (fabrics), Mantles (off the rack fashions), Hosiery, Furnishings, and Ladies’ underwear, which one staffer remembers “included the well boned and delicately shaped undergarments, usually packed in long narrow cardboard boxes, which today would comfortably house a French loaf. Their distinctive shape made them conspicuous and they often formed the subject of my deliveries…. ” A Miss Thwaites was the mistress of the Corset Department, and “my only brush with her occurred when under orders I was cleaning some high lamp shades from a ladder, when the disturbed dust fell on some of the reinforced and shapely objects…”

2D2 Crown Lyn section at store 1962 JAMES SMITHS NLNZ

Crown Lynn section at James Smith store, 1962. K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives, Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: 1/2-213392-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


2d3  Window display ofMoore's  men's hats, James Smith's department store, Wellington c 1939 edit copy

James Smith Ltd. window display of Moore’s hats for men, 1939. Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: PAColl-3332-03-34. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


An addition was built in 1934 down the Manners Street side, and two additions along the Cuba Street side in the 1960s. Cuba Street was always the flagship store. No doubt it had all the fairly standard departments – but those specifically recalled as far back as the 1950s were: Fashion, Shoes, Juvenile clothing, Corsetry, Hosiery, and Kitchenware. The Millinery area was on the first floor.

In the 1960s employees recall departments for Cosmetics, Jewellery, a record bar, Watches, Haberdashery, Knitwear, Swimwear, Toys and Stationery, Novelties, Home Services (appliances) and Books. There was also an in-house hairdresser’s to cater to those ladies who lunch (and also those that didn’t) in more formal times, when you got your bonce baked and lacquered to an almost indestructible finish at least once a week.

2D4  Man at counter displaying model ship 1961 NLNZ Ref 12-212697-F edit

Salesman at counter of the James Smith Model Ships and Toys Department, 1961. Alexander Turnbull Library, NLNZ Ref 12-212697-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.  


2G  Wellington Santa Parade, sponsored by James Smiths Ltd copy copy

 The James Smith Xmas Parade: Clockwise from top left:  Kent or Cambridge Terrace  by K E Niven Ltd, 1962-1968, Ref: PAColl-3332-05-08. Noddy float, Negatives of the Evening Post, 1958 Ref: EP/1958/4007-F.  Shopping for Christmas cards 1955, Negatives of the Evening Post, Ref: EP/1955/2797-F. Gulliver float by K E Niven Ltd, 1962-1968, Ref: PAColl-3332-05-07All images  from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. 


There was a wool bar, justified in the days when home crafted items were more of an expected necessity – than a cutsey revivalist hobby. There was a TV and Service division for that relatively new-fangled form of entertainment. Also a travel booking agency, and a post office – Ray Judson remembers “the James Smith branch was my first postmaster job and was I so proud. I had four staff and what a busy office it was. However I used to (find time to) slip into the fashion shows, just to see what was what!”

3a Shows Te Aro House after the fire of 18 April 1885 copy copy

Staff  busy hanging lengths of fabric from the windows and roof  to dry out after the fire at Te Aro House of 18 April 1885. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: PAColl-3332-1-3. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


10a display of women's hats, James Smith's department store, Wellington - Photograph taken by Thomas Hugh Tingay 1940

James Smith Ltd Window Display for women’s hats, taken by Thomas Hugh Tingay, 1940Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: PAColl-3332-03-37. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


There was an Advertising department as well as a design studio and workshop for the enormous amount of labour-intensive window decorating that came with the territory. One of the perks of changing over the displays was “entertaining all of the drag queens from in the windows”, remembers one designer of the 1970s. I suppose they may be referring to customers to-ing and fro-ing from the infamous “Carmen’s International Coffee Lounge” not far away, as well as the notorious “ladies” of the night that frequented the local area plying their trade.

10B   Woman doing a demonstration of facial care with Max Factor products, James Smith Ltd, Manners Street, Wellington 1960 edit copy

Demonstration of facial care with Max Factor products, 1960. Negatives of the Evening Post, Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: EP/1960/1508-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


10B  Comic drag at James Smith Ltd staff Christmas party 1953 edit ccopy

Male staff in drag, putting on a comedic fashion show at a James Smith Ltd staff Christmas party in 1953. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: PAColl-3332-3-1. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


Underlining the idea touched upon in the Fuller Fulton article that Cuba Street and surrounds was a hotbed of bohemia – a coffee bar was introduced with a machine serving espresso – customers could order cappuccinos, as well as more standard cafe/milk bar fare of the era like Spiders. Jean Kahui, who worked there, remembers this was quite innovative for the time , even into the following decade. The coffee bars – if not straight away, then certainly by the next decade were operated by Fagg’s – a local Wellington brand (established 1926) that later went national and is still going today.

10b Exterior of James Smiths building 1962  JAMES SMITHS NLNZ copy

James Smith’s Corner in 1962by K E Niven Ltd. Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Ref: 1/2-213413-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


10b Women's marching team, James Smith Ltd, Wellington 1930 AP & JG Smith pictured

The James Smith Ltd Women’s marching team, 1930, with managers A.P. and J.G. Smith. Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Ref: PAColl-3332-01-01. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


Brands carried by the store in the 1960s included Canterbury clothing, Crown Lynn china, Farren-Price watches, and Whitcombe and Tombs books. The two level Porirua store with a large car park launched to much fanfare in 1964 and included a cafeteria. Eventually the department store had branches in Upper Hutt and Lambton Quay too, which also had a delicatessen. By the 1970s there was also a store in Johnsonville. There was also a Sports Depot in Willis St (formerly Witcombe & Caldwell, acquired by James Smith sometimes after the early 1960s).

10c James Smith Ltd work on floats for procession 1958  copy

James Smith Ltd display department at work on floats for the Xmas parade of 1958. Negatives of the Evening Post,  Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: EP/1958/3939-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


10D Hairdressing Department, Beauty Salon, James Smith Ltd Wellington edit

James Smith department store Hairdressing Department and Beauty Salon, by K E Niven Ltd, Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Ref: 1/2-211677-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


Into the 1970s the main store had a Pattern dept on the second floor, Men’s Suits, Men’s Ready to Wear, Boyswear, Girl’s School, Young Fashion, and Ladies Fashion and Sportswear (the Miss Wellington line had its own section). There was Men’s and Ladies’ Shoes, Sports and Sportswear, Home Appliances, Knitwear/Swimwear, Dress Fabrics, Soft Furnishings, Corsetry, China and Glassware.

10D Woman modelling in a fashion parade for outsize women at James Smith's department store 1950 edit copy

Model in a fashion show for “outsize women”, 1950. Negatives of the Evening Post, Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: 114/204/04-G. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


10E  Model (Barbara Goalen) on catwalk in tearooms,

Barbara Goalen modelling in a fashion show held in the James Smith tearooms,by K E Niven Ltd, Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Ref: 1/2-210005-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


One dresser recalls an amusing story of knocking over the large display China Bull from Hereford, “breaking off its crown jewels”, as well as “having cabbages thrown at us by Hudson & Halls, yet again at the expense of the department buyer”(I don’t quite understand why this happened or what it was about, unless the couple of TV cooks had some kind of product that needed to be merchandised). There was Greeting Cards/Stationery, Costume Jewellery, and a coffee lounge. Cosmetics now included the swinging Mary Quant brand straight from Carnaby Street.

13b Shoppers looking at records, James Smith Ltd, Manners Street, Wellington copy

Shopping in the Record Department, 1960. Negatives of the Evening Post,  Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: EP/1960/1515-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


14 Male staff members and one woman assembled along tables in an office interior, James Smith Limited 1933 JG and AP Smith at corner

All the menfolk and just one gal: Meeting of James Smith Ltd male staff members, 1933. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: PAColl-3332-15-3. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


The 1980s saw Lingerie, Childrenswear, Babywear, Handbags, Accessories, and Whitegoods departments as well as “Young World”( probably Tweens), and a beauty salon. Salesgirls at the makeup counters spruiked Shiseido, Clarins, and Estee Lauder. Behind the scenes was an executive suite, and the offices known as “the goldfish bowl”, for the typing pool and operators running the switchboard. Christine Lamberton remembers “I was the telephonist, working on the old plug and cord- type switch. Many a time I put toll calls through and then had to page the buyer who put in the request!” There was also marking off, credit control , and computing departments.

17 Woman seated on washing machine ca1960, JAMES SMITHS NLNZ edit copy

Housewife on a washing machine, photographed for James Smiths Ltd promotional material. K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: 1/2-215299-FCourtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


18 carpark of new Porirua store ca1964 JAMES SMITHS NLNZ copy

The new James Smith Ltd Porirua store in 1964. K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


It makes me lament the times gone by that stores had specific departments just for what seems strange and obscure things now – but were in the era quite an everyday thing if one wanted to “keep up standards.” So many of those rituals have fallen by the wayside in just a couple of decades. Who sends greeting cards these days, let alone devotes a department to stationery? And, with the amount of unbecoming muffin tops I see spilling out of hipsters these days – some corsetry wouldn’t actually go astray.

18aa Secretary doing shorthand, JAMES SMITHS NLNZ copy

Secretary taking shorthand  in the executive suite, K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: 1/2-214625-FCourtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


18AAA TV Department of James Smiths store 1961,  JAMES SMITHS NLNZ copy

The TV Department of James Smith’s in 1961, K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: 1/2-213170-FCourtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


James Smith were also famous for the Wellington Xmas Parade which was a serious event in Wellington in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, as well as their themed window displays and Santa’s Grotto. Patricia James McDonald, who was an employee in the mid-late Sixties, remembers the annual Xmas parade was a big thing for staff and audience alike. A number remember playing Santa or elves. Sally Lewis who worked for the store from 1961 to 1965 remembers: “Every Year I was the Noddy in the Christmas Parade as I was the only person who could fit into the car!”

18aB Unidentified James Smith Ltd department store workers and lorry loaded with My Fair Lady records 1958 copy

 James Smith Ltd workers with a lorry load of My Fair Lady records, 1958. Negatives of the Evening Post, Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: EP/1958/4262-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


18b FISHER-PRICE adverts for James Smith 16 August, 1960 copy

Musical Fisher-Price pull toys, 1960, photographed for James Smiths Ltd promotional material. K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, all images courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. Refs Clockwise from top left: 1/2-212236-F, Ref: 1/2-212232-F, Ref: 1/2-212235-F, and Ref: 1/2-212231-F.


Sometime between 1982 and 1987 the business was sold to L. D. Nathan, now Australia-based behemoth Lion Nathan. Probably resulting from a redundancy agreement made with a portion of employees, around this period came a mess of legal issues – Administrative & Related Workers Industrial Union versus James Smith Limited (Dispute of Right) in 1982, New Zealand Shop Employees Union versus James Smith Limited (Dispute of Right , personal grievance of Miss E. Orr) in 1983, and Shop Employees versus James Smith Limited (personal grievances) in 1985.

20 SANTA PARADE James Smith Christmas Parade; float in the shape of a cow 1960s

 The James Smith Xmas Parade, by K E Niven Ltd, 1963-1968. Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Ref: PAColl-3332-05-05, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. 


22 Preparation of Christmas window displays, James Smith Ltd 2

The display department at James Smith Ltd. In three years and over 100 articles I’ve never had a personal family connection to a story yet. In an interesting incident, three days after I had written the story, a relative told me that my first cousin, whom I never got to meet, had worked at James Smith doing display, and I immediately showed this set of images to see if he was possibly one of the men. I was blown away to find that he is, and that’s Michael Begelman crouching on the right. Image by K E Niven Ltd, 1950s, Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Ref: 1/2-209977-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. 


Further to that James Smith Limited along with Woolworths and McKenzie’s was tangled up in a court case with the planning/environmental tribunal in 1987. Possibly in order to improve their public image, James Smith Ltd. donated hundreds of children’s car seats to the Plunket Society in 1984 in the midst of all this disruption.

In the aftermath of the sale, Summons were issued by the Financial Markets Authority to the New Zealand Stock Exchange, Doyle Paterson Brown Limited, and Australia International Ltd in enquiry into dealings in James Smith Ltd-issued securities in 1988.

22A Preparation of Christmas window displays, James Smith Ltd Michael Begelaman R

The display department at James Smith Ltd, hard at work on Christmas window elements. My first cousin  Michael Begelman is again on the right, putting finishing touches to a papier-mâché pudding. He was also employed window dressing for D.I.C. department store in Wellington. Image by K E Niven Ltd, 1950s. Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: 1/2-209976-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. 


22C Canterbury men's socks ca.1960,   JAMES SMITHS NLNZ copy

James Smith Ltd Window Display for Canterbury men’s socks, circa 1960, by K E Niven Ltd, Alexander Turnbull Library collection,  Ref: 1/2-215328-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


Into the late 1980s Geraldine Brackley recalls “I spent some concentrated time in the display department operating that horrible letter press for the sale cards, I think they thought I needed penance!” With the very old-fashioned switchboard as well as the letterpress in use late into the game , it sounds like they were lagging way behind the times in administration and work practice . It would be no surprise to learn that one of the reasons for the sale of the business may have been a downturn in profits due to inefficient management, but the legal matters on record with the government tell a story of unrest, underhanded treatments and a hostile work environment.

23 Fridge 1963, photographed by K E Niven & Co of Wellington James Smith NLNZ copy

Fridge in the Whitegoods Department at James Smith’s, by K E Niven Ltd,  Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: 1/2-213411-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


23AA James Smith various departments copy

 Various departments of James Smith’s store in Cuba Street. Clockwise from top left:  Service TV and Appliances Ref: 1/2-213236-F,  Post Office and Travel 1963  Ref: 1/2-213432-F,  Kitchenware 1966 Ref: 1/2-213943-F, and Toy and Stationery 1963 Ref: 1/2-213430-F. All images by K E Niven Ltd, Alexander Turnbull Library collection, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


However even though more than a couple of times former staff make reference to the “awful pay” – most people seemed to have very much enjoyed their time at the company – and for the most part have good recollections of the previous two decades in particular, and even for the most part the Eighties. But how quickly things can change.

The store closed for good in 1993, when L.D. Nathan passed it to Farmers’ Trading Co. Some remaining staff were transferred to Farmers’ Cuba Street and Lambton Quay. People specifically mention it “closing down” so Farmers’ clearly called it a day on the James Smith enterprise – and retained what staff they could.

23AB Spring hat window with wooly lambs, James Smith Ltd copy

James Smith Ltd. window display of  spring season hats for women, probably late 1940s. Image by K E Niven Ltd, Alexander Turnbull Library collection, Ref: 1/2-208553-F. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


23B Shoe and hat departments of store 1963,  JAMES SMITHS NLNZ copy

Various departments of James Smith’s store in Cuba Street. Top: Women’s Hat Department, Ref: 1/2-213429-F. Below:Women’s Shoe Department, Ref: 1/2-213428-F. Images by K E Niven Ltd,  both taken in 1963,  from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


James Smith was ultimately the best known department store, in the district for over seventy years. One former staffer declares that that every time she goes to Smith and Caugheys it reminds her of the James Smith stores, so given that S&C is basically the equivalent of Australia’s David Jones – James Smith Ltd must have posited themselves as quite upmarket. This led me to wondering whether there was a connection. Marianne Smith founded Smith and Caugheys in 1880 primarily in fabrics, but there seems to be no relation to James Smith excepting the coincidence of having the same surname and being in the same line of business.

25a YOU TOO MIGHT  LIKE TO BE A SALESGIRL Shop windows 1960 James Smith NLNZ edit

“I got the underwear job!” Employment opportunities with James Smith Ltd, 1960. Image by K E Niven Ltd, Alexander Turnbull Library collection, ef: 1/2-212977-FCourtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.


26 new tearooms at James Smith  copy

The  new James Smith Tearooms: All images by K E Niven Ltd  from the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand. Clockwise from top left: Refs:  1/2-211392-F , 1/2-211398-F, 1/2-211402-F, and 1/2-211390-F.


Nevertheless after all the decades of business as well as some turbulent issues towards the end of its life, the store still stands today, now a retail centre. The gloriously deco five story building is painted in perky pastel colours, enhancing its good looks and still proudly proclaims down the front that it is “James Smith’s Corner.”




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