A Poor Joke! A Premonition of What Was Yet to Come.

This photographically produced postcard of Christchurch’s Provincial Government buildings, appearing twisted and warped, was a semi-humorous card sent out at Christmas after the Murchison earthquake in 1929.

Date: 1929 By: Wicks, Arthur John, 1871?-1942; Martin, J L, fl 1932; New Zealand. Commissioner of Crown Lands Ref: Eph-A-EARTHQUAKE-1929-01
Date: 1929. By: Wicks, Arthur John, 1871?-1942; Martin, J L, fl 1932; New Zealand. Commissioner of Crown Lands. Source: National Library of New Zealand, Ref: Eph-A-EARTHQUAKE-1929-01, Photograph on Postcard

Titled “The Camera doesn’t lie”,  it was the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Mr J. L. Martin’s idea of a joke, from him and his staff who occupied the Canterbury Provincial Buildings at this time. Other occupants of the building were the Receiver of Land Revenue, the Registrar of Deeds, the Lands Transfer Office and the Lands & Survey Department.

During the Murchison quake, Christchurch had felt the effects, which caused loss of life and damage to property and land. Speech bubbles pop out from the mouths of the small figures uttering the phrases –  “Women & children first”, “Order please”, “Oh for the wings of a dove”, “Stop that jazzing up there” and “Where’s my puff box?”

Arthur Wicks Truth Newspaper 1912
Arthur Wicks Source: National Library of New Zealand, N.Z. Truth Newspaper, 16 March 1912

Martin has written a message on the back of the postcard saying – “With kind remembrances, From yours, Sincerely, J. L .Martin”.  

He sent it to Arthur John Wicks  (c.1871 – 1942) who was the Chief Draughtsman at Head Office of New Zealand’s Lands & Survey Department in Wellington. Wicks had worked with Crown Lands in Blenheim before moving to Wellington in 1917. This postcard was donated to the National Library of New Zealand,  by Wick’s grand daughter, Ms. Sally McLean of Wellington, in 2011.

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