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Iconic photos to feature at ‘Glimpse of the Past’ exhibition

Friday 12 January 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features, Memory Lane

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Iconic photos to feature at ‘Glimpse of the Past’ exhibition
Paula Paniani, chief archivist at Tauranga Vananga (seated), and Tui Tupa display Johnson’s Photographic Studio’ collection. MELINA ETCHES/24011009

Memories of the Cook Islands in the 1960s to 80s will be relived through ‘Glimpse of the Past’, a photographic exhibition and digital screening featuring the collection of Johnson’s Photographic Studio.

Presented by Tauranga Vananga Ministry of Cultural Development and the National Archives, the exhibition on Thursday next week will showcase captivating moments from the past and offer A4-sized copies of selected prints for purchase.

Johnson’s Photographic Studio was owned and operated by Bob and Margot Johnson in the 1960s, later passing the torch to their son, Bill Johnson, who sadly passed away last year.

Chief archivist Paula Paniani said the photographs were personally handed over to the National Archives and late George Paniani, by the Margot Johnson in 1988.

Labelled photographs and negatives, gifted by Margot, were carefully stored at the Archives.

Paniani had been liaising with Bill since 2016 when they held the Johnson’s Photographic Exhibition for the first time.

“We still have printed copies of photos from that year (2016) that were not purchased so we will have these up on sale again,” Paniani said.

The upcoming exhibition will focus on photographs taken in schools including Apii Avarua, Nikao Side School and Tereora College from 1972, as well as boxing, netball, rugby national and village sports teams and official events.

Paniani said that some photos were good memories of those who have passed away like the late cultural icon Araipu Tutai Pukera, who was known as our “Wonder Woman”, pictured in her classroom in 1975.

“Glimpse of the Past” opens its doors on Thursday, January 18, at 5pm and welcomes the public to delve into these timeless memories.

A4 prints can be purchased for $15 (framed) or $10 (laminated).

Beyond the captivating photographs, the exhibition serves as a tribute to Bill Johnson, the official photographer who documented the construction and the official opening of the Rarotonga International Airport.