Pickaxes and Shovels

This exhibition is now closed

See the lives of the early settlers and Kāi Tahu tangata whenua in this selection of extraordinary works by frontier Pākehā artists.

In 1851, the first issue of the Lyttelton Times listed an ad from the Canterbury Association looking to buy pickaxes and shovels. In this frontier British settlement, the settlers worked hard to gain a foothold in the new land and improve their lives. Land was secured, often dubiously, from Kāi Tahu people, and European settlers quickly spread across Waitaha (Canterbury). Although art was not a priority in the fledgling settlement, there survive some extraordinary examples of paintings, drawings and prints by colonial artists that provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the early settlers and Kāi Tahu tangata whenua. This exhibition brings together a wealth of colonial Canterbury works, providing a rare opportunity to view some of the region’s earliest Pākehā art.


  • Date:
    16 February – 5 August 2018
  • Curator:
    Peter Vangioni
  • Exhibition number:
  • Historical Collection Art Partner