The main fair building of the exhibition, Dunedin
The main fair building of the exhibition, Dunedin

The New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition was an international exhibition held in Dunedin, New Zealand from 26 November 1889 to 19 April 1890.


D. H. Hasting proposed the hosting of an international exhibition in Dunedin, New Zealand to celebrate the golden jubilee of the proclamation of British sovereignty over New Zealand in 1890. A meeting was held on 25 October 1888 to form an organizing committee. John Roberts was elected president and Richard Twopeny, executive commissioner.[citation needed] The national government officially recognized the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, and granted £10,000 for its organization.[1]


A site of about 121 acres was donated by the Otago Harbour Board bounded by Crawford, Anderson's Bay, Cumberland, and Jerrvois Streets. The Main Building was designed by James Hislop and built by contractors McMath and Walker of Invercargill. The building consisted of several annexes and halls forming an irregular quadrilateral with its longest side measuring 1,162 feet and a total width of 465 feet. A huge dome 50 feet in diameter rose 80 feet above the main entrance.[citation needed]


The Exhibition was opened on 26 November 1889 by Governor Lord Onslow. During the 125 days the exhibition was open there was an attendance of 625,248, before the exhibition closed on 19 April 1890. The exhibition managed to make a profit of £579. Nations in Attendance: Africa: Mauritius America: Canada, Costa Rica, United States Asia: Ceylon, Japan, Syria Europe: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy Oceania: Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawaii, New Guinea, New Hebrides, New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Samoa, Solomon Islands, South Australia, Tonga, Victoria, Western Australia.[citation needed]

The fair celebrated that country and the South Seas. Exhibitions included New Zealand's Eiffel Tower, a 40-metre-high (130 ft) wooden structure based on the Eiffel Tower built by the Austral Otis Elevator Company and used to display their products.[2] The tower was estimated to cost £1200 and included an elevator that travelled about 30 m. A smaller Eiffel Tower, without an elevator, was situated in an adjacent garden area, near the internal courtyard of the exhibition.[3]

John Roberts was President of the Exhibition and for his services was awarded the Companionship of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, in 1891.[4] Alfred Lee Smith was one of the directors of the exhibition.[5]

On the occasion of the exhibition a book was published, titled Picturesque Dunedin. It was edited by Alexander Bathgate, and gave a description of Dunedin and its neighbourhood, with a short historical account of the city and its principal institutions.[6]


  1. ^ Pelle, Findling, ed. (2008). "Appendix B:Fair Statistics". Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 414. ISBN 9780786434169.
  2. ^ "New Zealand's Eiffel Tower". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  3. ^ "New Zealand's own Eiffel Tower open". (Ministry for Culture and Heritage). Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Mr. John Roberts". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]. 1905. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Obituary". Otago Daily Times. No. 16994. 3 May 1917. p. 6. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  6. ^ Bathgate, Alexander, ed. (1890). Picturesque Dunedin . Dunedin: Mills, Dick and Co. – via Wikisource.