Masterton - six decades in 60 photographs

“Our Town” is a chance to walk through Masterton over six decades.

Aratoi is pleased to present the exhibition “Our Town – The Changing of Masterton”, 60 photographs by Pete Nikolaison and his late father George (Ted) Nikolaison, taken on film over the past six decades.

The exhibition opens at Aratoi, 12 Bruce St, Masterton, on Friday, 11 October at 5.30pm. All welcome.

Supported by Borman Family Trust, the exhibition is accompanied by a publication (120 pages) of the father-and-son photography, with text provided by Gareth Winter, Wairarapa Archive.

Rory the Stag, Bob Francis’ referee jersey, Aaron Slight’s first leathers and other ephemera will also be on display.

“In the book and exhibition, the general public will see images of the real Russian Jack (who was neither Russian nor named Jack!), Queen Elizabeth, the Makoura-educated international superstar Jemaine Clement, the former train to Palmerston North and the miniature one in Queen Elizabeth Park, and a host of notable athletes – in the world of motorcycle racing to golf, equestrian and rugby, from top players to the world’s number one referee and Rory the Stag, and much, much more,” said Aratoi Director Susanna Shadbolt.  “A large snapshot of Masterton history here at the museum.”

About the Father-and-son Photographers – George and Pete Nikolaison

George (Ted) Nikolaison (1926-2007) was born in Norsewood. He shifted to Masterton in 1948, opened a cycle and motorcycle repair business, yet soon set up a photography studio at home, and then  operated a studio-shop at a variety of Queen Street premises, selling camera equipment and developing and printing photographs. His children - Judy, Susan and Pete – all followed him into the business.  

Photographing aircraft was a Ted Nikolaison favourite – there are several images of airplanes for passengers (human and sheep), freight and for topdressing and crop spraying as well. 

Masterton born and bred, Pete Nikolaison has nearly 50 years of experience in photography. He began learning the craft under George’s tutelage, working with him in the shop after school and on weekends. Pete began his commercial photographic life with The Wairarapa Times-Age and then traveled overseas, honing his skills. Returning to Masterton, he worked at the family business and then branched out on his own: Pete Nikolaisons Photography Printing and Picture Framing still stands on Perry Street. His publications include Nikolaison & Son Masterton Then & Now, Wairarapa Place and People, Wairarapa A magical place and a range of calendars. 

Pete’s keen interest in tramping, as well as building history and landscape, is evoked in much of his work. There’s a glorious photograph of the Tararuas and their foothills blanketed in snow in August 2011.

The exhibition continues until 1 March 2020. Aratoi is open daily, 10am – 4pm.

For more about Pete Nikolaison.