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Eminent photographer turns 105
By ANNA PRICE
MILESTONE: Gladys Goodall with Laurence Eagle who compiled and published her landmark New Zealand photos
on her 95th birthday in 2003.
PHOTO: KIRK HARGREAVES
HAPPY DAYS: Eminent scenic
photographer Gladys Goodall, QSM,
celebrated her 105th birthday in
Christchurch on Sunday.
AN ENGLISH tourist approached
the stranger taking photos above
the Sign of the Takahe on the Port
You must be Gladys Goodall,''
That's right,'' Mrs Goodall
replied as she focused on the task
Then I have to ask, how did
you get that picture inside the
Mrs Goodall, QSM, JP, recount-
ed the moment, some half a cen-
tury past, on the eve of her 105th
birthday at the Fendalton Retire-
ment Village as she reflected on a
happy life punctuated by serendi-
pitous moments that set her
As it happened, her Homer
Tunnel shot was acquired by per-
suading some truck drivers to
edge past her car in the tunnel, all
lights full beam, with her camera
on a 90-second exposure.
Gladys Goodall's photographs
are regarded as an important vis-
ual record of the province across
30 years from 1950.
About 10,940 colour trans-
parencies and 950 postcards by
Mrs Goodall are in the photo-
graphic archive of the Alexander
Turnbull Library, Wellington.
Her images helped seal New
Zealand's affluent post-war image
as a scenic jewel.
Gladys Mary Goodall was born
on June 2, 1908, the second eldest
of eight children who grew up on a
remote 450-acre south Otago hill
country farm at Puketi.
There were no roads, just
Rocks from the quarry were
later broken to form a road.
Gladys went on to embark on a
nursing career, and started train-
ing at Waimate Hospital. There,
she met her future husband, Stan,
a handsome young farmer from
the big family sheep run in the
Hakataramea Valley. It was
destroyed by fire, driving his fam-
ily off the land.
I went into a ward and saw
him in a bed. I thought, what a
nice man. Later he told me, I
thought, what a nice girl'.''
She graduated at Timaru Hos-
pital and went on to complete
maternity and Plunket training,
working as a Plunket nurse dur-
ing the war.
The young country girl who
enjoyed playing around with her
No 2 Brownie camera and devel-
oping negatives in the scullery
was soon to become a household
name with her scenic shots.
At age 44, Mrs Goodall quit
nursing and set up as a scenic
postcard photographer where the
couple established their home in
In 1960, her reputation
flourishing, Mrs Goodall brokered
an exclusive contract with
Whitcomb and Tombs (later
Whitcoulls) to provide colour
photography for their postcards.
She travelled the country alone
on rugged roads in her yellow
Mark III Ford, clocking more than
160,000 kilometres until it was
written off in an accident which
put her in a Bay of Plenty hospital
for a month.
She produced numerous Pano-
rama books and around 1800
postcards. For 30 years she trav-
elled the country.
Her celebrated photo of the
memorial to working dogs at Lake
Tekapo is typical of her work.
Mrs Goodall taught herself by
trial and error, enjoying experi-
menting with lenses, filters and
A hard lesson -- rejection by a
professional dealer of her first
photograph of Skipper's Canyon --
became a valuable learning tool.
The composition was all wrong.''
She caught the spectacular
scene again and was accepted.
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