Bill Renwick

Creating a National Spirit: Celebrating New Zealand's Centennial 1940

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Creating a National Spirit looks at the ways New Zealanders celebrated their first 100 years: a trade fair in Wellington; commemorations at Waitangi, Akaroa and around the country; a dictionary; an atlas; a series of historical surveys; pictorial surveys; literary, art music and drama competitions; and a centennial film. It  examines in detail the Centennial Exhibition—the architecture, the government courts, overseas displays and ‘Funland’—and how the Second World War affected the planned events.

In examining the events and publications, the contributors paint a vivid picture of New Zealanders and how they perceived themselves and their relationships to the world 100 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The commemoration of the centennial in 1940 was a big event in New Zealand. The centre-piece, the centennial exhibition at Rongotai in Wellington,  lasted for six months and attracted some 2.6 million visitors. There were large ceremonies at Petone on Wellington’s anniversary, and at Waitangi on February 6, and in towns and provincial centres throughout the country. Hundreds dressed up in colonial costume, cleaned up the bullock drays and pit saws and paraded through the streets. Christchurch's procession on April 6 was two miles long. Even smaller townships had bonfires or picnics or sports meetings or children's days; while more than 250 centennial monuments were officially opened with formality and speechifying. From the afterword by Jock Phillips

William Renwick organised the Stout Research Centre’s conference on the 1940 Centennial celebrations and edited this book.

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