At the same time as John Gully and Edwin Harris were picking up their paintbrushes to capture Taranaki in the 1860s, TSB was already a fixture in the town, servicing its loyal customers daily.

More than 160 years later, both TSB and the historical paintings have stood the test of time, and to mark Taranaki Anniversary, the bank is gifting two rare watercolours to Puke Ariki museum for the enjoyment of the local community, as well as manuhiri (visitors) to the region. 

The two original artworks were purchased by TSB in 1999 and 2008 to protect them from private ownership, and ensure future generations can enjoy the snapshots of local history. 

The 1868 watercolour painting by John Gully, titled Mount Taranaki [Egmont], was bought in 1999 from the New Zealand Founders Society to celebrate TSB reaching $1 billion in depositor funds. The landscape – one of a number Gully produced of Mount Taranaki - showcases the mounga from a site believed to be Koru Road, Taranaki.

TSB bought the 1860 Edwin Harris watercolour painting, titled New Plymouth Under Siege, at an Auckland auction in 2008. The decision behind the purchase was two-fold; to guarantee the painting was returned to Taranaki, and to celebrate the bank's $3 billion depositors' funds milestone. The painting has been described as ‘rare and significant’ and depicts women and children climbing Marsland Hill as the 40th regiment troops marched through early New Plymouth.

In an innovative move, Harris cut out parts of the painting so that light shines through some of the shapes, buildings and tents in the artwork. 

“We’re delighted to be able to mark the 2022 Taranaki Anniversary with these historical gifts to our community,” TSB CEO Donna Cooper says.
“TSB is owned by a philanthropic organisation, so giving back to the community is at our core. The gifting of these paintings is aligned with our purpose, reinforces our place in the local economy, and reflects our ongoing commitment to Taranaki.
“Incredibly, both these watercolour paintings are as old as TSB itself and there is a strong tie to the roots of the local community.”

Puke Ariki Museum Manager Colleen Mullins says

“Puke Ariki is thrilled to accept these important paintings into the collection. They add depth to our existing collection of work by Edwin Harris and John Gully, who were both well-respected artists and public figures in Taranaki during a time of significant social and environmental change, and I am sure that this generous gift from TSB will be valued by generations to come.”  

Both of these artworks will be available to view on the Puke Ariki website at the end of March 2022, and due to their sensitivity to light they will be temporarily on display for three to six months later this year in the museum.

A watercolour painting by Edwin Harris titled New Plymouth Under Siege, painted in 1860
Edwin Harris, New Plymouth Under Siege (1860), Collection of Puke Ariki (PA2022.002)
A watercolour painting by John Gully titled Mount Taranaki [Egmont] painted in 1868
John Gully, Untitled (Mount Taranaki) (1868), Collection of Puke Ariki (PA2022.001)

For more information contact:

Simone McCallum
TSB Media & Communications Manager    
027 285 4479 / simone.mccallum@tsb.co.nz