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Image 'Women electroplating army canteen bottles', 1940s

TLF ID R2505

This is a black-and-white photograph showing a group of three women working in a New Zealand factory during the Second World War, electroplating army canteen bottles. The women wear factory smocks to protect their clothing. In the background are shelves with bottles waiting to be plated. Wellington photographer Gordon Burt (1893-1968) took this image some time during the Second World War. The negative measures 10 cm x 13 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows women working in the Turnbull and Jones Ltd factory in Wellington - during the War women made up the majority of the factory's workforce, producing army canteen bottles and other military goods.
  • It shows a few of the female factory workers from the War period - one-third of the factory workforce in New Zealand during the War were women, who supported the war effort by taking the place of men engaged in military service.
  • It depicts three New Zealand women mobilised for war - 10,000 women served in the armed forces, many others worked on the land while others undertook thousands of hours of voluntary work.
  • It illustrates one stage in the production of water canteen bottles, a vital piece of equipment for any member of the military on active service, and indicates that wartime production was not limited to weapons, but involved the manufacture of a range of items in substantial numbers.
  • It shows that New Zealand industry supported the war effort and produced much-needed military equipment - Turnbull and Jones Ltd was an electrical supplies company that turned its machines to the production of military goods, such as canteens, during the War.
  • It indicates that a great deal of factory work was labour-intensive at this time - the lack of conveyor belts and sophisticated mechanical aids meant that much was done by hand.
  • It illustrates how electroplating was carried out in the 1940s - electroplating is the process of coating or covering an object with a thin layer of metal through the use of an electric current.
  • It is an example of the work of Gordon Burt, a photographer who began his career taking portraits in the 1920s but later shifted to commercial photography - no information about this photograph survives because many of Burt's records were destroyed when his studio was demolished in 1970.

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Gordon Burt
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Gordon Burt
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements