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Michael Stevenson: This is the Trekka

19 Oct 2013 - 20 Jul 2014

Contemporary gallery, Level 5, Te Papa

Previous Exhibition


  Watch and listen to arts multimedia

A 1960s agricultural utility vehicle, a stack of butter boxes, a bottle of slivovitz, a structure labelled ‘The Invisible Hand’, and a trade-show desk branded ČNZ (Czech/ New Zealand). Herein lies a story of political intrigue …

The Trekka (1966-73) is a Kiwi icon - the country’s only locally designed and produced car. But despite being hailed as New Zealand made, it was actually constructed on a Czechoslovakian Škoda chassis, as ‘ČSSR’ on the rotating sign reveals. This business venture was rather remarkable in the 1960s, given the restrictions on imports to New Zealand and a tense relationship with Eastern-Bloc countries.

This installation represented New Zealand at the 2003 Venice Biennale - a prestigious international contemporary art event and, as Stevenson perhaps suggests, a place where art itself meets trade and nationalism.

Read more about this work in 'Budget travel' by Jonathan Bywater in Off the Wall

Selected Works

This is the Trekka

Michael Stevenson

2003-05