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Cigarette-box holder, 1939

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Cigarette box holder, 1939

This cigarette-box holder was manufactured in 1939 by W B and Company for sale at the 1940 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition in Wellington. It is made from a bent sheet of metal with a lacquered paper cover. One side depicts the main tower at the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition (not shown); the other, a Māori-style carving and green tiki (representing a guardian or protector), with the word 'Cigarettes' written vertically. The spine reads 'Souvenir from N.Z. Centennial Exhibition, 1940'. The holder measures 5 cm x 7.7 cm x 2 cm.

Source Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Educational value:
  • This asset shows the influence of Māori art and culture on mainstream New Zealand - the tiki became a cultural icon in the 20th century and is commonly used by New Zealanders today.
  • It is an example of kiwiana (unique, often everyday, New Zealand cultural objects) from the Second World War period.
  • It serves as a historical reminder of the exhibition, which marked 100 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (the founding document of New Zealand in which an agreement was entered into by representatives of the British Crown and representatives of Māori people) - more than 2.6 million people visited the exhibition buildings, near Wellington's airport.
  • It is a souvenir developed for sale at an exhibition: such exhibitions were a 19th- and 20th-century phenomenon, beginning with the French Expositions and spreading through the English-speaking world after the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London; the purpose of an exhibition was to showcase the culture, art and industry of the country in which it was held.
  • It is a direct reference to social trends of the 1930s and 1940s - unlike today, when the health risks are well known, smoking was an accepted and widespread social practice.

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