Photography has been a significant part of the New Zealand sports story. It allowed those not at the games to catch a glimpse of crucial moments of action and to see their stars up close.
Before the Second World War
Capturing images of sports action was difficult in the early years. The first sports cameras used bulky glass plates, and operators were only ever able to shoot a few images of the events they were covering. An 80-minute sports game might have only 12 plates assigned to it.
However, there are still many iconic images from the early years of photography which were reproduced in newspapers and books. Many at first came from overseas sources. These include:
- the 1905–6 All Blacks doing the haka and playing England
- a posed shot of the country's Australasian Olympic swimming gold medallist, Malcolm Champion of Auckland, in 1912
- Cyril Brownlie being sent off against England during the 1924–25 All Blacks tour of the UK and France
- Jack Lovelock winning the 1500 metres at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
The great years of sports photography
In the years after the Second World War New Zealand's leading newspapers and press agencies sent photographers on significant tours to capture images for purely New Zealand purposes. This brought out great talent and rivalry among the country's best 'snappers’.
Peter Bush started taking pictures of sports games and events in the late 1940s. Apart from his years of personal overseas travel and war service in the Malaya campaign, he has continued to photograph into the 2010s. He came out of the glass-plate era of sports photography, through the years of standard film stock, and into the 'machine gun' world of modern digital photography. Bush worked for the New Zealand Herald for a number of years and then for New Zealand Truth. His work, particularly featuring rugby and the outdoors, has won him worldwide acclaim.