Instantly recognizable photographs of Dame Whina Cooper, Muhammad Ali and Prince William are among 100 iconic New Zealand images to be featured in a charity auction for the cash-strapped Taranaki Hospice.
The auction is the brainchild of former NZ Herald illustrations editor Rob Tucker, who has terminal cancer.
Tucker said he wanted to do something to help “the angels of the night” who had helped enable him to continue living in his New Plymouth home.
“Some nights I would sleep badly and the pain would get to a stage where the morphine or oxy pills I was taking wouldn’t stop the pain and it would come 24/7.
“You just give them a phone call and they come in and give me an injection and lay me down for the night and relieve my pain.”
Horrified to learn that the organization needed to find $4 million to cover its running costs, Tucker appealed to the “brotherhood” of New Zealand photojournalists for help.
“So I came up with this idea with all my photojournalist friends working for newspapers, why not put together a collection of historic photos that have helped shape New Zealand history like the Buzzy Bee on the lawn with Prince William.”
The 74-year-old snapped the snap which had been seen around the world but had never been released for sale before.
Other unique edition prints to be included in the auction include Michael Tubberty’s image of Dame Whina Cooper walking hand in hand with a moko during the 1975 Maori Land March.
And the photo of Muhammad Ali taken by Geoff Dale training with a couple of probable lads on Queen St in 1979.
Award-winning Muriwai-based photographer Ross Land said he couldn’t refuse Tucker’s appeal.
“Absolutely not, I mean it’s a fantastic idea, it’s a fantastic cause and I’m very very happy to be able to help Rob.
“And it’s also a way for me to give back a bit to Taranaki Hospice because they took care of both my mom and dad and one of my brothers.”
He credited Tucker with launching his career by assigning him to the 1981 Springbox tour, but it was a photo of a fading athletics superstar his former boss selected for the auction.
“One of the ones he really likes and I also really like is a photo of John Walker at the very end of his career at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.
“He’s struggling up the straight to finish the race and the Kenyan gold and silver medal runners are shaking hands in the foreground with him struggling on the straight in the background so c is the one I particularly like, so I’m glad Rob chose that.”
New Plymouth-based photographer and former Stuff staffer Andy Jackson was helping Tucker put together the catalog.
He had been blown away by what had been sent.
“I really like the one of Fred Dagg sitting in the front of a Land Rover. It’s one of my favorites, but they’re all amazing and many of them will be familiar to people.
“It was also really cool to find out the story behind some of these photographs that I didn’t know about.”
Jackson has a dramatic image of Oakura surfer Paige Hareb surfing the women’s world tour during her visit to Taranaki included in the catalog.
Meanwhile, Rob Tucker says the project has given him new life.
“On the one hand, it keeps me from looking around my garden to see where my burial ground will be, and on the other hand, it’s just nice to be able to gather fellowship and communicate because they don’t haven’t met in years, so this brings this brotherhood of photographers together and hopefully raises some good funds for the hospice as well.”
Taranaki Hospice chief executive Paul Lamb said he was overwhelmed by Tucker’s generosity.
“Rob faces a life-limiting illness with all of its complexities, but has always said he wanted to give back to the organization, so that connection, Rob’s notoriety and the different approach he takes to the project are going to be fantastic from a hospice perspective to be able to talk about our work and generate funds.
“And if we can add value to the life that Rob is living right now through the project, that’s part of the work we do and that will be fantastic.”
The New Zealand Photojournalism Charity Auction will be held at the Plymouth International Hotel in New Plymouth in September.
Images included in the auction can be viewed on the Photo Journalism New Zealand Charity Auction Facebook page.