Photojournalism images up for auction garner attention from Kiingitanga and corporates

King Korokī's tangi at Taupiri Mountain.

King Korokī’s tangi at Taupiri Mountain.
Photo: Wayne Harman

Heavyweight bidders have been manoeuvring behind the scenes ahead of this afternoon’s charity auction of more than 100 examples of New Zealand’s finest photo-journalism.

Major corporates and even representatives of the Kiingitanga have made approaches about the images – many of iconic moments in the history of Aotearoa.

The Photojournalism New Zealand Charity Auction is the brainchild of former New Zealand Herald picture editor Rob Tucker, who has terminal cancer.

Dismayed at the funding crisis the Taranaki Hospice faced, he called for help from the “brotherhood of photojournalism”.

Former NZ Herald illustrations editor, Rob Tucker, who has terminal cancer.

Former New Zealand Herald picture editor Rob Tucker
Photo: Andy Jackson

Tucker said he had been overwhelmed by interest in the images, including from big players such as the Kiingitanga.

Its representatives were interested in Wayne Harman’s image of warriors carrying King Korokī’s casket to the sacred burial grounds on Taupiri Maunga.

“It’s a photo taken in 1966 and it’s a very powerful photograph and I got surprised last week when the King’s office at Tūrangawaewae contacted me to say they would like to buy that image for their archives.”

Tucker politely explained it was too late to withdraw it from the auction and the Kīngitanga, who knew it was being sold for charity, had since organised for someone to bid on their behalf.

Harman, another former Herald picture editor, remembers thinking at the time he had captured a great shot.

“We could see right from the beginning that it was a misty, foggy day and as they made their way up the mountain, you could see it was going to be a significant picture.”

However, he did not realise how significant it was.

“I got back to the office and the picture editor came into the darkroom and I was printing the picture and he saw it for what it was and convinced the editor of the day to use the picture across the front of the broadsheet Herald that day.”

The picture subsequently went around the world.

The ceremonial blast made through the Manapouri Power Station's tailrace in 1968.

The ceremonial blast made through the Manapouri Power Station’s tailrace in 1968.
Photo: Barry Durrant

Tucker said Meridian Energy had also expressed interest in Barry Durrant’s shot of the ceremonial blast made through the Manapouri Power Station’s tailrace in 1968.

“Whoever set up the dynamite put too much and all the hats of the visiting dignitaries standing around – there was probably about 20 or 30 of them – and all their helmets are being blown off.

“And all the hard hats are about a foot above their heads, you know what I mean. It’s such an unusual photograph.”

Durrant, who was a picture editor for The Dominion Post, had been in the tunnel before and knew there would be a concussion blast, but not quite like that.

“I expected they would screw up their faces with a big bang and everything, but it was a misfire and a lot of stuff blew out from the face instead of blowing into the face.

“I don’t know whether the miners put a few extra charges in to give the officials a thrill, but it was quite spectacular.”

Tucker said hundreds of bids for the photos had been made online already and more than 300 tickets had been sold to the in-person auction.

A duo of auctioneers had even volunteered to help people part with their cash.

“One’s an older guy and one’s a younger guy and I had a meeting with them and they’ve said they’ll fight each other and they’ll get the party going,” Tucker said.

“Just tell the punters who are coming not to have gorse in their pockets, so they can get to their money.”

The Photojournalism NZ Charity Auction, which has added a Ross Land portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to the catalogue, is being held at the Plymouth International Hotel in New Plymouth this afternoon at 5pm.

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