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This vibrant collection of 1950s travel posters was designed by Arthur Thompson (1915 – 1997) in the 1950s for TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited), the forerunner of Air New Zealand. Exotic, colourful designs enticed travellers onto TEAL’s flights to glamorous destinations across the Pacific.
Thompson was a commercial artist who worked in New Zealand and Britain. He studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts and in the 1960s had a successful career as a costume and set designer for film and television. He was the chief set designer on the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia – a film with plenty of style and drama, just like these posters!
This bold poster conjures up the tropical delights of Fiji, the first stop on TEAL’s island-hopping Coral Route. Fiji was one of the airline’s most popular destinations. The romance of the Pacific and TEAL’s stylish flying boats proved to be an irresistible combination for wealthy international tourists.
Poster, ‘Fiji Fly Teal’, 1950s, by Arthur Thompson. Purchased 2001. All Rights Reserved. Te Papa (GH009293)
In the mid-1950s, competition for tourist traffic to Fiji became fierce as other airlines began flying the route. TEAL made the most of Arthur Thompson’s graphic design talent to spearhead a campaign that encouraged travel to Fiji.
Poster, ‘Fiji By Air By Teal’, 1950s, by Arthur Thompson. Purchased 2001. All Rights Reserved. Te Papa (GH009290)
TEAL also used posters to promote New Zealand as a destination for international tourists, including Australians. In this example, the thrill of a holiday on New Zealand’s ski slopes is conveyed by a skiing kangaroo.
Poster, ‘Fly to New Zealand’, 1950s, by Arthur Thompson. Purchased 2001. All Rights Reserved. Te Papa (GH009295)
This poster promotes TEAL’s popular flights between Australia and New Zealand. The airline's first flight from Auckland to Sydney was in April 1940. It started as a weekly service, but soon rose to three flights a fortnight. In 1940, its first year, TEAL made 130 trips across the Tasman, carrying 1460 passengers. By the time this poster appeared, it had added Christchurch, Wellington and Melbourne to the route.
Poster, ‘Three Trans-Tasman Air Routes’, 1950s, by Arthur Thompson. Purchased 2001. All Rights Reserved. Te Papa (GH009296)
In this poster Arthur Thompson plays on Tahiti’s reputation as a mysterious and exotic destination, complete with beautiful women. Tahiti was the final stop on TEAL’s Coral Route - a romantic island hop from Auckland to Papeete. The name ‘Coral Route’ came from a TEAL staff competition. Head steward Eric Mullane’s winning entry was inspired by the beauty of coral islands and of Pacific people’s song-filled (‘choral’) receptions for their visitors. At Papeete, disembarking passengers were greeted with the dance ‘Soirée de TEAL’.
Poster, ‘Tahiti’, 1950s, by Arthur Thompson. Purchased 2001. All Rights Reserved. Te Papa (GH009292)
Crisp colours, bright sun and seaside horse-rides create a scene that must have appealed to travellers looking for a warm, outdoorsy holiday. TEAL began offering flights to Norfolk Island after it took over the route from New Zealand’s national airline, NAC (National Airways Corporation), in 1952.
Poster, ‘Restful Norfolk Island’, 1950s, by Arthur Thompson. Purchased 2001. All Rights Reserved. Te Papa (GH009294)