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Centennial Exhibition souvenir sticker

Commemorative sticker
Commemorative sticker circa 1939-1940, New Zealand. Purchased 1995. Te Papa

This sticker from the 1939–40 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition conveys mixed and misleading messages about Maori.

The prominence of the woman gives the impression that Maori enjoyed a key role in New Zealand society in the mid 20th century. Pakeha (European New Zealanders) of the time boasted 'the best race relations in the world'. In reality, Maori suffered official and unofficial discrimination.

On the other hand, the woman's traditional clothing perpetuates the idea of an ancient people locked in the past. Like other images of the time, it was not representative of Maori in the modern world – rather, it was eye-catching tourist fodder.

Read more about the Centennial Exhibition

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