Whangarei Art Museum is delighted to announce the launch of the Drummond Photographic Collection Digitisation and Archival Project - now ONLINE.

The founding European settlement in Whangarei left many legacies which remain in the peripheral vision of our daily lives – street names, parks and reserves, but few left such a resounding visual heritage as the Drummond family. Thomas Louden Drummond (1850 – 1926) was a pioneer painter and photographer in early Whangarei. The art museum holds eight of his oil paintings in the collection. Other public institutions which house his works include the Alexander Turnbull Library and the Auckland Art Gallery. His son Robert (Roy) Louden Drummond, like his father, was also a keen amateur photographer; both were founding members of the Whangarei Camera Club which celebrated its Centenary in 2010. The descendants of Roy Drummond left a significant collection of historical photography to the city. This amazing pictorial legacy has now been repatriated to the public art museum and a wider audience thanks to the generosity of The Northern Advocate newspaper, its previous custodians for more than forty years.

For nearly half a century the Northern Advocate have cared for, published and also added to this collection by acquiring contact prints and glass-plate negatives from Ben Te Wake. Over this time the collection grew to over 2000 historic images of daily life in Northland. Together with the Drummond painting collection, the art museum now holds one of the most remarkable pictorial collections of our times from one family. They capture events such as the royal and vice-regal visits, funerals and tangi, regattas and fate days, troops heading to the Boer War and the Dardanelles, and the seemingly 'lost worlds' of the War, epidemic, Empire, kainga and kauri.

The photographers in the collection include many of the most renowned of their day; Joseph Cowdell, Frederick Radcliffe, Ernest de Touret, George Woolley and the Drummonds, father and son, among many others yet to be identified. T.L. Drummond was a keen amateur photographer. Depicting landscapes across the breadth of the North Island, he was an entirely self-taught painter and photographer.


Since 2014, WAM staff and volunteers have been working towards completing a four-part process to honour these wonderful images and develop the platform upon which this collection can be enjoyed and accessed by the public just as Roy Drummond had intended. Recently requested for use next month, a Drummond image depicting Lifeboats on the Hokianga Harbour will be used in a presentation in China by an Otago University History Lecturer- showing early Northland to the world. High resolution image requests can be made by educators, researchers and for publications (see website for reproduction rights). As kaitiaki, WAM puts great value in collection projects such as this where commitment to conservation of these precious works leads to new ways to enjoy the collection in the future.