Archive for the ‘TEAL Airways’ 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.


Unblemished Record: The Flawless Reign of Bernard Roundhill

In Air New Zealand, Alberto Vargas, Bernard Roundhill, Bixies, Blue Bonnet, Blue Bonnet Jams, board games, Bond & Bond, Butland Industries, C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd, Cadbury Fry Hudson, Cadbury's, Cereal Foods (N.Z.) Ltd, Champ pet food, Cheesecake art, Choysa Tea, commercial artist, Coulls Somerville Wilkie, Craig's canned foods, Craig's Jams, Crest Fine Foods, DB Lager, Diamond cereals, Diamond Pasta, Dolphin swinmsuits, Dominion Breweries, Duval Dimwit, Edmonds, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, Four Square, Four Square Supermarkets, George Petty, Goldpack dried fruits, Goldpack Products, Holdsons games, Illustrators, Innes soft drinks and cordials, Irvine & Stevenson, J.R. Butland, Jason Products, Judith Ann Field, Ken Chapman designer, Kia-Ora jams, Lincoln Games, Little Chief socks, Ltd. calendars, Mabel Rollins Harris artist, McKenzies stores, Montana Wines, New Zealand Home Journal, Norman Rockwell, O-Tis oatmeal, Oak, Peter Pan ice cream, Peter the Pilot, Pin ups, Qantas Airways, RNZAF, Robinson's, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Sanitarium Health Foods, Scientology, Skippy the dog, Speights beer, St. George, Swiss Maid dairy products, Teachatot, TEAL Airways, The Mirror magazine, Thompson & Hill, Timaru Milling Co, Tiny & Droop, Wattie's, White's Aviation, Whittome & Stevenson, Winstone Limited, Wyona canned foods, Yates seeds on December 2, 2013 at 10.46

Diamond O-Tis by Timaru Milling back of Peter The Pilot on Active Service cereal card Album 1941 Bernard Roundhill BACK EDIT copy

An advertisement for Diamond O-Tis, by Timaru Milling Co., from the back of the “Peter The Pilot on Active Service” cereal card album, issued 1941. Designed and printed at Coulls Somerville Wilkie, Dunedin. Image courtesy of Dave Homewood, from Wings Over Cambridge http://www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz/


Bernard Roundhill was probably Aotearoa’s most successful commercial artist, and certainly the most feted, in retrospect. He has come to be known as the “King of the Airbrush.” That’s a fair moniker; he was a pioneer and pretty much master of the technique in New Zealand. He’s also been described as “the founding father of commercial art”.
This a bit cheeky as he was not – that phrase indicates he was the first and possibly also suggests he was the best. Neither of these things are particularly true. All you have to think of is Joseph Bruno Moran, for instance, and a list of others that came before him and which no doubt he was beholden to. There’s no question he was easily and heavily influenced by others and ergo, indebted to those that were successfully working previously.

Portrait of Bernie Roundhill holding a book titled Information Circular NLNZ collection Nov 1945 Ref WA-00758-G Photograph  by Whites Aviation

Portrait of Bernie Roundhill by White’s Aviation, late 1945, holding a book titled “Information Circular”, which probably has one of his cover designs. NLNZ collection, Ref WA-00758-G


Born in 1911, Hull, Yorkshire, England to John William and Mabel nee Tate – Bernie, as he was known to most, had two older brothers Kenneth Spencer and Maurice William, one older sister Mabel who was born 1908 in New Zealand, and two younger brothers.

Auckland in Fifty Years 1956 Bernard Roundhill  for Winstones Te Papa collection  copy

“Auckland In The Year 2000”, artwork for Winstone’s promotional book centrefold, 1956, is Roundhill’s most famous illustration. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/001/0001


John William Roundhill (b.1887), having also hailed from Hull, had immigrated to New Zealand in 1903 with his brother Alfred. They both worked as labourers in the Timaru, Canterbury area. He met Mabel Tate there whom he married in March 1905. Alfred met Mary Jane Dukes and married her also in Timaru, 1905.

Dolphin swimsuits illustration by Bernard Roundhill for Whites Aviation Ltd Ref WA-03719-F Alexander Turnbull Library EDIT

Dolphin swimsuits advertisement for Whites Aviation Ltd, 1950. Image courtesy of  Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref WA-03719-F 


At some point between 1908 and 1911 the Roundhills returned to Britain, where Bernard was born. The family left England again in 1912 – for good this time. His brother Charles came into the world just before they returned to New Zealand. Many sources repeat information from others ad hoc without checking, and quote Bernard as being three years old on arrival; this is incorrect.

Edmonds Advertising Framed palsop 1 Bernard roundhill perhaps EDIT cfurther

Double page spread advert from a 1959  Edmond’s “Sure To Rise” cookbook, which I believe was the 4th printing of the Deluxe version of the 1956 8th edition.


They settled in Gleniti, Timaru at first, and then later in the 1910s moved to Fairlie, South Canterbury. A younger brother , George, was born in 1917. By this time a young Bernard was already obsessively drawing.
One of the stories repeated that Bernard allegedly told was of around this time, seeing the first plane in New Zealand fly over, and chasing it across the fields with 25 shillings given to him by his father to beg the pilot to take him up – thus beginning his life-long obsession with all things aviation and space orientated and the sense of freedom that entailed. How fanciful this tale may be is worth consideration given that it was not until 1920 the first flight in Aotearoa flew across Cook Strait. Only the third flight in New Zealand the following year by Bert Mercer that was in the vicinity, when he flew from Invercargill to Auckland.

Bernard Roundhill Painting of a Baby Dog & Slipper for magazine cover 1950 EDIT

Painting of “Baby, Dog & Slipper” for a magazine cover, 1950. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000660/001/0003.


Roundhill studied architectural drafting by correspondence, in the late 1920s. Bernard was also a cabinet maker and learned the trade from his father – known as a perfectionist, as was apparently his spouse. This obviously had an impact on a formative Bernard and influenced his work practice.

Innes Cordial labels by Bernard Roundhill Te Papa copy

Innes cordial labels for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd: from left – Reg: CA000680/001/0015 produced 1956, Reg:CA000680/001/0024 produced mid-late 1950s, and Reg:CA000680/001/0023, produced mid-late 1950s. Images courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa


He then moved to Timaru around 1931 where he got his foot in the door of commercial art,  trying his hand professionally at window display material – designing signs, price tags and jewellers’ cards for various businesses. During this period of the lean depression years he also created paintings on material to earn money, daubing demons and heroes on velvet cushion covers and firescreens to earn a meagre living; all the items being dispersed by two salesman friends.


A selection of Roundhill Studio designs for various companies. Although this photo looks like it dates from the late 1950s, it was actually taken of contemporary products sometime between 1971-1976. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/003/0002


This followed a move to Dunedin where work was still thin on the ground, and at first he would accept anything going – recalling one job akin to performance art where he painted on the velvet dresses of live models behind the display glass of a store in The Octagon. This led to some textile design work creating floral patterns.

Bernard Roundhill, Fissionable material. Framed calendar print, 1950s Dunbar Sloane

“Fissionable Material”,  framed calendar print, 1950s, likely commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd. Image courtesy of Dunbar Sloane Auctioneers.


However it was not long before he started to become successful. By 1933 he began working as chief designer for both confectioners Cadbury Fry Hudson and publishers Coulls Somerville Wilkie in Dunedin, who shared his much-in-demand services, split morning and afternoon. It was here working for the latter he created some of his most well-known work – the “Peter the Pilot” character for Timaru Milling Co ‘s O-Tis breakfast cereal, doing a number of adverts, packaging items, album covers, trade cards, and other merchandise; records state from 1939 to 1954. Although, Peter the Pilot had already been issued as an album by 1938, and he continued to work for this company through to at least the early 1970s.

Bernard Roundill for Winstone   from Peter Alsop book sampler CROP

Original artwork for Willy, Lofty, Tiny and Droop: concreting and drain-laying, illustration for Winstone’s promotional book, 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/002/0005


About this time, Roundhill discovered the airbrush art technique after reading articles about American and German commercial art in a magazine, and inspired by this idea he developed it for his own work, purchasing an Aerograph with a hand-pump compressor, even constructing his own equipment and customising the process in order to create the smooth, graduated and mechanical effects he wanted to achieve. By his own estimation it took around seven years of long work days to learn the craft thoroughly enough to be comparable to the commercial artists he admired – whose work filled magazines like Popular Mechanics.

CHAMP - CHAMP PET FOOD COMPANY - Skippy The Dog J R BUTLAND (dog food and cat food) 1950s EDIT copy 1

Champ dog food can label, featuring Skippy the dog, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Private collection 


In 1935 he married his first wife Eileen Grace Morey in Dunedin. In 1938 they were living at 20 Cranley Street, Dunedin Central, – but then the same year they picked up and relocated with Bernard’s parents at 11 Littlebourne Crescent. Just to add to a crowded situation, Bernard’s brother Kenneth, a carpenter, was also living at the family home (his father John William was also now working as a carpenter). At this time Roundhill worked on the 1939-1940 Centennial Exhibition, as well as for Wattie’s (canned foods) and Speights (beer).

Choysa Tea for Bond & Bond 1950 Bernard Roundhill - Art New Zealand edit

Choysa Tea advertisement,  for Bond & Bond, 1950.


This move may have had something to do with Bernard commencing military service that year – as a draftsman in the intelligence office of the 8th Brigade, mainly drawing maps. Leigh-Ellen Roundhill, Bernard’s daughter, is now an artist herself working on the Gold Coast in Australia – “Like so many other men, he did not speak of his war years. What I do know is that he was in the Air Force and did the Bombsight surveying (a device used by aircraft to accurately drop bombs, Bombsights were a feature of most aircraft from WW I onwards). Then his commanding officer would keep him back in Wellington to do map work. His work was very hush-hush and I was told he was part of the Secret Service. “

Crest - Bartlett Pears label  - Mike Davidson EDIT

Crest Bartlett pears can label, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection


In 1942 he moved over to the Royal New Zealand Air Force and worked for the Government architect’s office. All seriousness and secret business aside, Roundhill developed “Wing Commander Duval Dimwit” for their instruction manuals during this time to bring “a little humour into them” in the vein of the RAF’s Pilot Officer Prune – and also did brochure covers and pin-up art for aircraft noses, basically whatever was required or desired.

Innes Lemonade Bernard Roundhill 1950-1951 CROP 1

The Innes Lemonade girl. Poster artwork for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., 1950-1951. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/001/0014


It is said he moved to Auckland in 1939 although this cannot be true since his second wedding was in Otago – it wasn’t that long before the marriage with Eileen foundered and Roundhill had met someone else. I think biographers are confused in regards to Bernard’s service in which he was stationed in both Auckland and Wellington during those years, but not permanently. Eileen and Bernard begun divorce proceedings in late 1943. Still in Dunedin, he married his second wife Olive Ella Tasker, whom he had met in Wellington in 1944 whilst still with Eileen.

CREST tomato juice label copy

Crest tomato juice can label, for J.R. Butland, late 1950s. Private collection 


In the process of research, I trawled through five hundred or more newspaper articles which ended up being mainly of various seemingly unrelated Roundhills competing in sports tournaments. There were adverts for a Miss M. Roundhill’s dress-making studio in the late 1930s-early 1940s in Lower Hutt (Alfred, Mary Jane and daughter Mary had moved there in the late 1920s). But there was hardly a thing of note – apart from his and Eileen ‘s divorce noted in an article unflatteringly entitled “Unhappy Marriages”.

design for Home Loan Poster Education 1960s Bernard Roundhill Te Papa collection crop

One of three designs commissioned by a home loan company, early 1960s. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/002/0007


So where was the scandal? That was it, I’m afraid – three wives and only one dissolution. The rest of the time it was clearly nose to the grindstone giving a glossy finish to plums on can labels – if any company wanted plump berries and healthful, fresh-looking vegies, or hi-tech planes and spacecraft from another world – Roundhill was the go-to guy for quite a stretch. Leigh-Ellen recalls Bernard was a very keen gardener, landscaping the family home and “grew wonderful vegetables, as well as planting many fruit trees which I used to climb”. No doubt the bounty from this was inspiration for his illustration work.

Four Square - fine things of the future - colouring book 1 brentzconz EDIT

Colouring book cover designed for Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores, 1954. Private collection.


Roundhill does not appear in the electoral roll in Auckland until 1946, so he and Olive must have made their move in 1945. During this period came a stint at an advertising agency studio; but it wasn’t long before he set up a freelance studio in Commerce Street. The couple resided in Dedwood Terrace, Ponsonby until the late 1940s to very early 1950s – when they moved to 1 Ranier Street, Ellerslie.

Four Square advertising picture - her list says butcher baker four square Likely Bernard Roundhill EDIT further final

 “A Treat in Store”, image possibly from a calendar, designed for Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd’s Four Square stores, late 1940s-early 1950s. Private collection.


By 1947 He was airbrushing ink and gouache with an air compressor and adding watercolour brushwork by hand on top to create illustrations with a highly finished look that nobody else was achieving. In “A Treat In Store” A girl accompanied by her spaniel and a trolley full of products (such as Bird’s Custard) in tow, is about to enter a Four Square corner store holding a shopping list. It is so obviously Roundhill work done for Foodstuffs New Zealand Ltd (Four Square and Pam’s), and is very reminiscent of his other softly-hued cheesecake work like “Fissionable Material”.

Four Square Store cover of puzzle  envelope 1950s 1949-1950 likely Bernard Roundhill EDIT

Promotional puzzle showing many of Four Square’s line of products. Dates for this item vary greatly from 1942 to 1959 – but it was actually issued in 1949-1950. Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Manuscripts and Pictorial collection. Ref: Eph-F-GAMES-1950s-05-cover


His pastel period of the late 1940s and early 1950s was all pinks, mints and aquas – and took a queue from the saccharine, romantic stylings of the very popular 1930s American calendar artist Mabel Rollins Harris’s idyllic works of children and glamour pin-ups. Even so the earlier work, such as his Peter the Pilot items, was markedly awkward and clunky in comparison to the later slick illustrations that became his trademark . Even further down the line when he’d really hit his stride, it was very hit and miss – there was often something a little wooden, and slightly distorted-looking about his renderings of people unless cropped close in a frame or off to the side to mask it. They were mostly neither graceful or believable; it was almost as if finish upstaged focus on form. Nevertheless, this work was still popular with clients – but let’s face it – still objects were his forte. Tomatoes and beans did not have to kick a ball or unfurl a sail.

Goldpack Apple Slices copy on the shelves in 1960 - Innes  Lemon Squash Cordial label mid 1950s copy

left: Innes cordial label, late 1950s, Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection. Right: Goldpack dried apple box, late 1950s, private collection.


From here he segued into calendar pin-up work of the early 1950s which he excelled at, probably because they were quite still and posed. Heavy influences are obvious on Roundhill’s cheesecake work from Alberto Vargas, George Petty, and the art direction of Esquire Magazine. They were created for Auckland calendar company L. R. Allen & Co Ltd. Auckland (which is still operating today), and some were used for W.D. & H.O. Wills (cigarettes).

Kauri Museum - Roundhill Peter the Pilot album 1939 -  Royal New Zealand Air Force display Rongotai Cover 1938

Right: Peter the Pilot’s “Century of Progress” album 1939. Image courtesy of The Kauri Museum collection, Matakohe. Left: Royal New Zealand Air Force, Rongotai display, souvenir booklet cover, 1938. The date begs the question as to whether Roundhill could have done this given he did not commence working with the RNZAF until the following year. Image courtesy of  Alexander Turnbull Library, who also question whether it’s authored by him. Ref: Eph-B-AIRFORCE-1938-01-front 


Roundhill worked for many years as a freelance artist and purportedly established the Roundhill Studios, a large, stylish deco-style building – in Auckland in 1974 according to one of a few short articles that have been written over the recent years. Although the electoral rolls always give the address as Onehunga, it was actually in Ellerslie – at the same address as their home. Then another source describes his Ellerslie studio as “pre- supermarket days”- so 1950s.

Innes Tartan fruit cordials 1956 Te Papa edit

Innes Cordials packaging, for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: ACA000672/003/0007.


There were two children of the union with Olive, previously mentioned daughter Leigh-Ellen – and also Dean Bernard Roundhill – who born in 1953. Leigh-Ellen says “It is possible the studio became registered as an Enterprise in the 1970s – but was indeed up and running by 1958. I remember a great deal of the studio as it was a big part of my life; this is where I grew up. My first recall is during the construction of the studio in 1957. It was attached to the family home in Ellerslie. Still only crawling, I climbed over all the building materials being used – only to be rescued by Bernard who was two thirds up a two storey ladder at the time.

Lincoln Electric Race Track box by Bernard Roundhill EDIT

Lincoln Electric Race Track box, 1950s-1960s, image courtesy of Clayton Blackwood collection.


The studio was part of my play ground; and I wandered fairly freely in and out, watching my father and all the other artist staff work. I studied Bernard doing his airbrushing – no questions (to be) asked, so I was very still and silent as I observed. I learned a lot from watching them all, taking up art myself eventually. I recall him doing the beautiful fruit and flower labelling for Wattie’s and Yates, and various jam brands as well. And of course his Vargas lookalikes, which hung on the back walls of the studio.”

Little Chief Socks Bernard Roundhill 1949 Te Papa collection

Design for Little Chief Children’s Sox packaging, 1949. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/002/0003


As far as canned (and boxed) fruit and vegetable products, Roundhill was known to have worked on label illustrations for Wattie’s and Wyona (General Foods), Crest (Butland), OAK (Thompson and Hills), St. George (Irvine and Stevenson), and Kia-Ora (Whittome and Stevenson) amongst others from the late 1950s through to at least the early 1970s. He had a fairly distinct style and his work was much more polished than other illustrators due to his technique. He was probably responsible for the majority of these designs in the marketplace for at least a couple of decades. As well as can labels, the studio was producing designs for a wide range of products from puzzles, mobiles, and calendars to wrapping paper, chocolate boxes, magazine covers, stationery, food packaging, and board games.


Wonder Book of Modern Aircraft Album, issued by Cereal Foods (N.Z.) Ltd., around the mid 1940s. Private collection


Clients of this period included Little Chief (children’s socks), Winstone’s Limited (building materials), seed packets for Yates and McKenzie’s Stores, and The Mirror magazine. He worked on Butland Industries’ Goldpack brand, as well as their fictional home economics rep Judith Ann Field, and mascot character Skippy the terrier for Champ dog food. Holdson, Lincoln, and Philmar (board games and toys), New Zealand Home Journal, Diamond cereals and pasta (Timaru Milling Company Ltd), The New Zealand Ministry of Tourism, Ballet Russe (makeup), DB Lager (Dominion Breweries Ltd), Innes (soft drinks and cordials), Bond & Bond Ltd (Choysa Tea), Dolphin (swimwear), Edmonds, and aforementioned Foodstuffs NZ Ltd brands. I am sure this is just a small sampling of companies he completed work for.

Oak - Orange Marmalade- Thompson and Hills - Mike Davidson - prob early 1960s prob Roundhill artwork

OAK orange marmalade can label, for Thompson & Hills Ltd., probably early 1960s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.


Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners NZ Conference Chch Nov-Dec 1916 - Roundhill in it prob John William EDIT copy

Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners Conference, Christchurch, 1916. There is a Roundhill specified in the group, probably Bernard’s father John William – I am guessing middle of back row based on physical appearance. Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: PAColl-D-0423.


However as his work progressed through the 1950s and the 1960s, the crafting of it became extraordinarily precise. The highly polished shapes and forms comprising his work were solid, smooth and soft cubist; reminiscent of Tamara de Lempicka’s celebrated Art Deco era portraits of European café society. The portfolio of images he created for Winstone, featuring the characters Willy, Lofty, Tiny & Droop are exemplary of this period.

Pin Ups - Bernard Roundhill copy

Left: “I Haven’t Got Much On Today”, 1950, Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000661/001/0006. Right: “Forgotten Something, Honey?” 1950-1951, Image courtesy of alisonmc on Flickr. Both likely calendar prints commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd.


In 1956 he designed his most famous illustration, the one that many people are familiar with – “Auckland in the Year 2000” – for Winstone’s, featuring streamlined, high tech craft whizzing between futuristic buildings of downtown Auckland, a feat of swooping late-Deco inspired line work exquisitely rendered to finished perfection with the airbrush by Roundhill. Interestingly, the illustration he is celebrated for was completely his own concept and creation, given carte blanche by the client to do whatever he liked to fill a double-page spread.

Rangitoto - Spaceport II - Auckland 2500 - The Ambassadors concepted 1960 completed early 1990s  Bernard Roundhill  Te Papa collection  copy

“The Ambassadors, Rangitoto Spaceport 11, Auckland in the Year 2500.” Begun in 1960, finished between 1990-1994. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/001/0002


Also the influence of his early Scientology days, shine through in his work – in particular “The Ambassadors”, featuring space craft zooming over a futuristic Auckland harbour with Rangitoto looming in the background. The intergalactic pulp science fiction concepts, masquerading as religious tenets – of fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard who founded the movement – are obvious even down to the weird logo on the ship’s sail like a mutated cross between the Thetan and Illuminati symbols. This illustration somewhat mirrors the fable that Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling futuristic airliners, and stacked them around volcanoes. Still, they are rather visionary and you can compare them with what has come to pass in contemporary times and there are some remarkable features that have fortuitously become realties.

roundhill designs for Yates Seed Packets EDIT copy

Yates seed packets from the 1960s, Image courtesy of Sarah E. Laing collection, 44 Ways of Eating an Apple blog.  


Roundhill, described as a quiet and withdrawn persona, had embraced the wacko cult in 1953, along with his wife of the time, during a period when he was, besides running the studio, deputy mayor of Ellerslie Borough (he had spent a number of years as a council member previous to this). An acquaintance who was teaching him the art of public speaking, passed him a book on the religion. He said of himself he “learned, through Scientology, to create art that could communicate to people….(through it I) received validation and learned to do it better and better.” The last part may have some basis in truth but the former is quite debatable since Roundhill had effectively been “communicating to people” very successfully through his work for a good twenty years before the religion ever came into his life.

skippy  - judith ann - ice cream baby - sanitarium bixies copy

Clockwise from top left: Portrait of Skippy the Dog,  for J.R. Butland’s Champ pet foods, 1950s, Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000672/003/0008. Point-of-sale advertising material for Sanitarium’s Bixies cereal.  Portrait of  Judith Ann Field, the fictional home economics rep for J.R. Butland’s Crest Foods, 1953. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000662/001/0004. Painting of baby with ice cream and dog, probably done for a magazine in the early 1950s.


Along with gravity, communication and its language was a concept that fascinated him and he ruminated on often as he undertook his work – of which he had an extraordinary ability to focus on, to the point of being able to exclude everything else going on around him that may have been distracting. “When I’m doing artwork, there’s nothing else in existence as far as I’m concerned” he once said.

Teachatot Game by Holdsons 1960s-1970s retouched Bernard Roundhill

Holdson’s Teachatot game box for Thomas Holdsworth & Sons, issued 1961. Private collection.


During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a very busy designer and continued to complete a huge amount of work. He may well have been the most prolific commercial artist during that time. Between commercial work that continued to flow in – he returned to his former Depression-era occupation of painting mystical and symbolic scenes on dark velvet; he had flirted with this style again in his spare time in the 1950s, making greeting cards.
His creations in this genre were fantastic, kitsch, and…pretty awful really – in fact so much so that I am not going to include a picture of one (it’s true what they say about not quitting your day job). For someone who had built a reputation for cheerful, colourful and glossy work, these tacky renderings of Kingfishers, sailing ships, woodsmen and deer were surprisingly dark and creepy. But really, when you look hard at the characters in his commercial work like his portrait of Judith Ann Field and others – there is something slightly unnerving about their glazed stares and sinister Stepfordesque perfection – like they are aliens that have been zipped into a full body disguise.

The Incredible Tale (Fisherman and Boy ) 1953 Bernard Roundhill Te Papa collection edit copy

“The Incredible Tale (Fisherman and boy)”, 1953. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg:CA000661/001/0003


The most famous design he produced from the studio in his long career, one that went around the world, over and over, was during this period – the Air New Zealand Koru which was apparently designed originally in 1965 when TEAL became Air New Zealand and looked to replace its Southern Cross logo with something new and innovative. The koru was first applied to the tail of Air New Zealand aircraft with the arrival of the DC-10 in 1973, and has remained in use ever since.
Leigh-Ellen recalls: “I was banned from the studio when they were working on this, which was created by (graphic designer) Ken Chapman. I reasoned my way around that, and I watched the development of the project which was very exciting. I saw a lot of confidential things go on during it.” Although Roundhill mostly gets complete and unquestioned credit for this design, it seems he only came up with the original concept that was repeatedly returned to the drawing board, re-designed, developed and finished by members of his staff.

In amongst this period of great success resulting in the zenith of his most famous design – was also a period of tragedy for him. In 1967 his mother and his father John William and Mabel Roundhill both died within the year (sister Mabel had passed away ten years earlier). Then in 1969 son Dean Bernard Roundhill was killed in a road accident with a motorcycle at just 16 years old.

Whittomes Kia-Ora Jam - whittome & Stevenson- Mike Davidson prob early- mid 1960s prob Roundhill artwork

Kia-Ora jam can label, for Whittome & Stevenson, probably early-mid 1960s. Image courtesy of Mike Davidson collection.


Winstone by Bernard Roundhill from  Peter Alsop's book

Original artwork for Willy, Lofty, Tiny and Droop: Roofing Tiles, illustration for Winstone’s promotional book, 1956. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000659/002/0004


However clients kept him occupied while he delegated jobs to a staff that swelled to as many as sixteen at times. As well as most of the clients listed of the 1950s, in the 1960s-1970s Roundhill added Peter Pan (ice cream and frozen foods), Air New Zealand, Robinson’s (cordials and baby foods), Jason Products (placemats and coasters) Blue Bonnet (spreads and jams), Wonderset (hair products) Yukich’s Montana Wines, Swiss Maid (dairy), Craig’s canned foods, sauces and jams (Butland Industries) and Qantas amongst his roster during this period. Initially he had started employing others post-war period to help with the more tedious jobs like lettering, but the studio, which also had the rare distinction of being independent from an advertising agency, produced a number of respected designers like John Woodruffe and Graham Braddock. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1980s that Roundhill finally dipped his toe in the digital world of production – converting the studio which previously had run without even a photocopier.

In 1988 Bernard Roundhill was presented with the Gold Axis Award by the New Zealand Advertising Institute, for excellence in advertising communication and craft excellence. At the time it was only one of three that had been bestowed.

Yates Garden Painting Book - New Gold Dream -Bernard Roundhill  - Phillip Matthews - Listener Apr 20-26 2002

The Yates Garden Painting Book for children, issued 1953, replete with evil gnomes to give you nightmares.


After Olive died in 1984, Roundhill married for a third and final time – to Peggy Lee (not the celebrated crooner). Peggy was a widow who had one son from her former marriage. She also claimed she was a writer and director, as well as a “highly trained” scientology counsellor. Peggy was a few years behind Bernard, having discovered the religion in 1961 through the Dianetics book which was held at Auckland University. It was after his second wife died they found had their faith in common; whether they knew each other earlier on is unknown but highly likely. They soon sold the Ellerslie property and moved to a cottage in Torbay.

Air New Zealand craft with Roundhill's Koru design All rights reserved by dbcnwa flickr edit copy

Air New Zealand craft with the Roundhill Studio’s Koru design. Image courtesy of and © dbcnwa on Flickr .


His relationship and union happened with Peggy very quickly – who was by all accounts a very charismatic individual with “enough energy to power the national grid.” Controlling and possessive – she essentially closed Bernard off into a spiritual bubble, alienating him from his family. Leigh-Allen says “…I became estranged until two weeks before he died. I was banned from retrieving any of my, or my family’s things, from the house after (Peggy married him). Peggy told a lot of tales and I think Bernard just gave up (fighting it).” One journalist described her style as “cheerful embellishment.” Apparently in her world the truth was highly negotiable if inconvenient – see earlier story about Bernard and the aeroplane, which may have had a vague basis in legitimacy – but was pretty far-fetched by the time she had re-styled it.

So devoted were they that by 1994, the couple moved to Southern California to teach and lecture on the religion. To say that a move to the other side of the world to establish a new life in his early eighties was risk-taking is an understatement – not only was he very elderly but Bernard was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The couple spent much of their savings trying to find a cure and when the money and will power ran out – they decided to go home.
By the early 2000s they had returned to New Zealand and were living in Mairangi Bay on North Shore, Auckland where Bernard indulged in his favourite pastime; gardening. Towards the end, Peggy undertook the administrative role for Bernard’s art studio, which seems to indicate he continued to work in some capacity – although seemingly he started wind down commissions in the early-mid 1990s when his illness got the better of him. Nevertheless, he had been kept busy work-wise well into his eighth decade.

Yates Seeds_350 Art by Bernards Roundhill EDIT

Yate’s seed packet designs, probably early-mid 1950s. Image from the “New Zealand In Bloom” exhibition, 2005, courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa.


Peggy had a scientology website, which was a joint undertaking also showcasing Bernard and his work. It has since gone out of commission – likely it went down because she died in 2006, the year following Bernard – and the hosting has obviously since expired. Bernard had passed away in 2005 at age 94; but before that Peggy had spent three years between 1999 and 2002 sorting his archives in preparation for offering the collection to a museum. The archive collection effectively falls into three categories: original finished art, commercial art products (such as posters and ephemera), and then Bernard’s reference material, including some by his contemporaries. Ultimately the body of work went to Te Papa where it remains today as an example of how he styled some of our most recognisable brands through the seven decades of his remarkable career. In 2005 they showcased some of it in a Richard Wolfe-curated exhibition “New Zealand in Bloom.”

Young woman hitching 1951-1954 Te Papa collection

“Young Woman Hitching a Ride”, 1951-1954. Likely commissioned by L. R. Allen & Co., Ltd. for a calendar. Image courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te
Papa Tongarewa, Reg: A000683/001/0003


When working in other styles and genres such as the cartoonish and quirky “Surfing Santas” design for wrapping paper of 1950 – Roundhill showed that he was perfectly competent in capturing action adequately (although, on reflection, it seems likely this was designed by an employee). Everyone knows I am a devotee of some of his work like his hyper-real illustrations for Holdson; however his irregularity in a stellar level of illustration across the board tempts me to dub him overrated in comparison to the international greats – for as innovative as he was – butted up against them he tends to regularly fall short in consistence as well as imagination.

INNES - C L INNES & CO LTD  Strawberry Milk Shake & Ice Block Flavouring Syrup  1950S or 1960s Te Papa prob Bernard Roundhill EDIT

An Innes syrup label for C.L. Innes & Co. Ltd., produced mid-late 1950s. Images courtesy of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Reg: CA000680/001/0004


The majority of his work speaks little of New Zealand culturally in that unique manner that defines such things as Kiwiana, and as such cannot claim that differentiation from the international work of others that would really propel it into its own unique genre.
But this is what happens when an attempt is made to reframe commercial work as high art – a concept and distinction that Roundhill always stated he was indifferent to; it is voluntarily judged under the harsh light of a new work lamp.
More than anything his oeuvre’s real value is as a time capsule of product showcasing packaging and advertising that stretches nearly seventy years. Although inspired by Norman Rockwell and his luscious Coca-Cola adverts, amongst other celebrated illustrators – Roundhill never quite reached that level excepting some of his brilliant futuristic scapes and was rightly awarded for them; but as such he ultimately may have just been a big fish in a small retouched pond.

Thanks to: Bridget Simpson, Reference Librarian, Central Auckland Research Centre, Central City Library. Jennifer Twist, Archivist, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Leigh-Ellen Roundhill, Grant Cathro, Peter Michel, Lemuel Lyes of History Geek and Mike Davidson for interviews, images, and assistance with research.

All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.