Scenic vistas of Aotearoa have become an important part of New Zealand identity. Hand-coloured photos produced by Whites Aviation from 1945 were formative in the genre, and hugely popular after WWll. This 2016 Loading Doc profiles 'colouring girl' Grace Rawson, now 83, who uses cotton wool and brushes to demonstrate the meticulous process behind colouring the images. The short was co-directed by artist and commercials director Greg Wood, and author Peter Alsop (Selling the Dream), whose book on the photos, Hand-Coloured New Zealand, was published in 2016.
It was very important for people to have photographs of New Zealand on their walls in those days. And once Whites started selling, they went berserk everywhere. In my view, everybody bought them because there was nothing else like them at the time. There were some prints of Van Gogh’s sunflowers, Brugal’s paintings, Constable’s hay wain – but suddenly Whites was different. It was real, and the country we lived in, and hand-coloured. It absolutely took off.– Grace Rawson, on the popularity of hand-coloured images of New Zealand