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Oriental Bay, Wellington. Taken for 'New Zealand, gift of the sea' (1963)
Oriental Bay, Wellington. Taken for 'New Zealand, gift of the sea' (1963) 1960, Brake, Brian (1927–1988), Wellington. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

Brake photographed individuals in the studio when he was working as an assistant in a Wellington portrait studio in the mid-1940s, but he did not have a natural inclination for capturing people unawares in public places.

In 1954, realising that this was an area lacking from his portfolio, Brake forced himself out into the streets of London to take candid photographs. By the time he made the photographs for the 1963 book New Zealand, gift of the sea, he was a highly experienced photojournalist, comfortable with taking unposed photographs of people as they were.

Brake continued to photograph New Zealanders after he returned to the country to live in 1976. He had in mind a new edition of Gift of the sea, with new photographs of both the land and its peoples.

Other photographs were taken under a commission from the Tasman pulp and paper mill in Kawerau to record the operations of the company, including its employees. These were shown back to the community of workers in calendars and local exhibitions.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.