Collecting plan – Drawings, Paintings, and Prints: 2016-2018

Find out about collecting and priorities for the Drawings, Paintings, and Prints Collection.

Purpose of this plan

The drawings, paintings and prints collection is a national collection, developed to sustain in-depth research in New Zealand and Pacific studies.

The purpose of this collecting plan is to describe the extent of collecting to be undertaken, and any subsequent priorities, for the drawings, paintings and prints collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library, part of the National Library of New Zealand, during the period 2016-2018.

This collecting plan was developed in accordance with the collecting principles outlined in the National Library of New Zealand’s Collections Policy.


Excluded from the scope of this collection

  • Potential donors of three-dimensional artifacts relating to material culture are usually referred to an appropriate museum.
  • Non-representational or abstract art is normally out of scope.
  • While a historic collection of furniture is held, additions to this collection are normally out of scope.
  • Items in poor condition or which pose a risk to the collections.

Collection strengths

Collection strengths are identified as subject areas that the Library is already strong in. Highlights in the drawings, paintings and prints collection include:

  • The paintings and drawings of both amateur and professional nineteenth and early twentieth century New Zealand artists.
  • Examples of almost all the known fine prints of New Zealand from the eighteenth century to about 1920, with a smaller selection of Pacific prints.
  • Important pre-1840 holdings include the 1768 Pacific drawings of Samuel Wallis, a large collection of fine prints associated with the voyages of Captain Cook and early French explorers, the drawings of William Ellis, from Cook’s 3rd voyage to the Pacific, work by Augustus Earle, and missionary-associated drawings, paintings and prints, especially the oils of James Barry and the watercolours of Daniel Tyerman.
  • Non-New Zealand and Pacific holdings of interest include W.Fox’s watercolours of Australia, America, Asia and Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, E. Raper’s watercolours of Australian birds in the 1780s, E. von Guerard’s drawings of Australia in the 1860s, and sets of engravings and etchings by G. B. Piranesi, and W. Hogarth.
  • The New Zealand Cartoon Archive features large collections of editorial cartoons including drawings by P. Bromhead, N. Lodge, E. Heath and T. Lloyd. Copies of most currently-published newspaper cartoons have been received since 1992, including born-digital records since 2002.
  • The architectural plan collection is strongest for the Wellington Region, from the 1890s to the 1970s. Seven Wellington firms are strongly represented in it.

Collecting principles

The National Library of New Zealand collection policy provides a suite of principles that guide all collecting across the published and unpublished collections by the National Library and Alexander Turnbull Library.

Principle no 1

Developing breadth and depth in the Library’s research collections requires decisions to be informed by, and responsive to, current and emerging research trends as well as the anticipated needs of future generations of New Zealanders.


Staff working closely with the collection take an active role in the New Zealand and Pacific studies research community. This active role enables the Library to be more informed about identifying the items that can be useful for researchers of tomorrow.

The Library welcomes and encourages dialogue with any part of the research community regarding the collection of drawings, paintings and prints that supports an existing or identified future research need.

Principle no 2

Active engagement with iwi, hapū and whānau helps build collections of documentary heritage and taonga created by Māori and relating to Māori, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.


The Library has a strong collection of works of art relating to Māori history and traditions, dating from 1642, including portraits of Māori, depictions of Māori cultural life and records of Māori-Pakeha interactions and will continue to build on this strength.

The Curator Drawing, Paintings and Prints will engage with the Curator Māori when taonga Māori is available for collecting, and will take advice on when wider engagement with Māori is necessary.

The Library welcomes input and dialogue from Māori to ensure that drawings, paintings and prints of and by Māori are collected, preserved, and made available as appropriate and to the highest possible professional standards.

Principle no 3

The Library has an important leadership role in collaborating and coordinating collection-related activities across institutional and national boundaries to enable New Zealanders to connect to information important to their lives and to support strong documentary heritage and taonga collections for all New Zealanders.


The Library always considers the most appropriate repository for a collection prior to acquisition, which can often be another institution within New Zealand or further abroad.

Potential areas for collaborative or coordinated proactive collecting will be explored with other institutions, especially when the Library’s born-digital collecting capacity can be utilized, and gaps in the national documentation are identified.

Principle no 6

The Library takes into account the cost of acquiring, storing, managing, and making accessible collection items when building its collections.


The Library’s process for approval to purchase collection items includes consideration of cost and benefit, and is followed at all times when the Crown’s acquisition budget is used to build collections.

For items that are donated to the drawings, paintings and prints collection, the total cost of collecting, processing, conserving, and providing access is one factor considered as part of determining the benefit to New Zealand of having the items available in perpetuity as part of our documentary heritage.

Collecting priorities 2016 – 2018

The drawings, paintings and prints collection is built to sustain advanced research in New Zealand studies and preserve heritage taonga in-perpetuity for all New Zealanders; however it is not possible to collect comprehensively works of national significance across all aspects of New Zealand social, economic and cultural life.

Therefore the Library chooses to priorities certain areas in order to focus the limited resource to either build on existing collection strengths, to fill gaps in collections, or to respond to the changing needs of researchers now and in the future.

The drawings, paintings and prints priorities are grouped into three categories.

Ongoing priorities: Those areas in which the Library strives to build on its existing collection strengths.

Emerging priorities: Those areas where there are signs of an emerging research trend, and therefore will require the Library to start developing strategies for drawings, paintings or print material to be
collected to support this research need in the future.

Proactive priorities: One or two areas where there is a known gap in the Library’s collection or the national documentation and the Library proactively strives to build relationships and collect in order to fill these gaps.

The Library welcome expressions of interest and donations from a range of people, communities and organisations. However, the current priorities are provided to give a guide on areas we are likely to prefer, given limited resources. Priorities include, but are not limited to, the list provided below.

Ongoing priorities

  • Portraits: to ca 1920 of identified and unidentified New Zealand and Pacific people; to the present of identified New Zealand and Pacific people significant at a national or international level
  • Landscape, townscape, especially detailing changes in form, land use etc.
  • Social life, e.g. Māori and Pakeha manners, customs, costume, architecture, housing, social conditions, sport and leisure activities, life at home and at work
  • New Zealand and Pacific natural history subjects, especially from the pre-photography era
  • Cartoons and caricatures by New Zealand cartoonists, and of New Zealand and Pacific subjects, particularly New Zealand editorial cartoons, with a secondary emphasis on social cartoons
  • Architectural plans and drawings, especially in formed collections of significant architects working in the Wellington region
  • Fine art prints published in New Zealand or of New Zealand subjects published elsewhere, especially prior to the 1930s
  • Reproduction prints published in New Zealand
  • Book illustrations. Selected examples of the original work of New Zealand and Pacific book illustrators.
  • Copies of related materials held in other public and private collections may be acquired.

Emerging priorities

  • Contemporary illustration
  • Online artwork

Proactive priorities

  • Editorial cartoons
  • architectural drawings

Supporting documentation

This collecting plan is supporting by further documentation that outlines some of the criteria, objectives, and processes for assessing and documenting Drawings, Painting and Prints collecting decisions.

Download the Collecting plan — Drawings, paintings, and prints: 2016-2018

Drawings, paintings, and prints collecting plan (pdf, 176KB)