Te Manawa to preserve life’s work of legendary Kiwi photographer

Photographer Peter Bush (second from right) at his Island Bay home with (from left): Te Manawa trustee Evan Greensides; Te Manawa Chief Executive Susanna Shadbolt; Rachel Bush, Peter’s daughter; New Zealand Rugby Museum director Stephen Berg.

Palmerston North’s Te Manawa Museum has acquired an extensive archive of images from one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most prolific photojournalists. Consisting of some 300,000 items, the Peter Bush Collection, donated to the Museum, represents a lifetime of his photography.

Bush has been taking pictures since the 1940s and has built up a huge archive of historically important sporting and cultural images. He is renowned as a rugby photographer and has been capturing the All Blacks since his first assignment as news photographer for the New Zealand Herald in 1949.

His extensive collection of images also includes the Māori Land March in the 1970s, the Vietnam War protests, the Beatles’ New Zealand visit and royal tours.

Chief Executive Susanna Shadbolt says one of Te Manawa’s defining missions as a museum is to capture, safeguard and share the stories that tell who we are as a community and as a nation.

“It has been tremendously rewarding to work with our partners to achieve this goal. The stories and moments that Peter Bush has collected are the heritage of future generations of New Zealanders, and Te Manawa is proud to be their new home.”

Acquiring the collection is just the first part of a long-term project that will be a three-way partnership with the Bush Family and the New Zealand Rugby Museum, and supported by Palmerston North City Council. The Peter M Acland Foundation is also providing funding to help preserve the collection.

Bush’s daughter, Rachel, says the whānau is delighted to have found a home for Peter’s work.

“It means the collection will remain in Aotearoa and available for future generations. Te Manawa and the Rugby Museum are natural homes for Peter’s work, which spans not only rugby but a lifetime of capturing significant moments in New Zealand’s history.”

Te Manawa will seek additional sponsorship and grants to advance the work of preserving and digitising the collection—ultimately making it available for all New Zealanders.

A montage of some of Bush’s images has been installed outside the Rugby Museum to coincide with the Rugby World Cup.