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<EM>Colonial Mutual Life building</EM> by Gordon Burt

Curator Athol McCredie talks about this photograph of a vanished Wellington building


Colonial Mutual Life building by Gordon Burt
<P>This recording was created for Te Papa’s in-gallery audio tour.</P> <P>Transcript: </P> <P><STRONG>Athol McCredie</STRONG></P> <P>This is the Colonial Life Mutual building, which used to stand in central Wellington. It’s gone now, and photographs provide the best record that it ever existed.</P> <P>It was built in 1935, at the height of the economic Depression. Such a large, ambitious building was a vote of confidence in the New Zealand economy and in the future.</P> <P>The design of the building, as you can see, is quite bold and whimsical. Its high windows and glazed roof tiles give it a neo-Romanesque look. The partial ziggurat &#8211; the pyramid shape you can see at the top &#8211; recalls New York skyscrapers of the 1920s.</P> <P>If this image was in colour, you would be able to see that the facing blocks of the building ranged in tone from pink to plum red,&nbsp; bringing vitality to Wellington’s grey and sombre centre.</P> <P>The building was torn down in the 1980s, after a life spanning only forty-five years.</P> <P>The precision and clarity with which this professionally-made photograph was taken reflects the freshness and newness of the building itself at the time.</P> <P><EM>For the next track, head into the next space on your left and look to the wall on your left.</EM></P>

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Gordon H. Burt, Colonial Mutual Life building, Wellington, circa 1935. Digital composite from two black and white negatives. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.

Gordon H. Burt, Colonial Mutual Life building, Wellington, circa 1935. Digital composite from two black and white negatives. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.