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Hear Prime Minister Savage at the Centennial Exhibition

Audio file

Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage's speech at the Centennial Exhibition. This is one Savage's last public speeches before his death on 27 March 1940.


[Spoken very slowly and with a shaky voice.]

'Good afternoon everybody.

'I've been having a delightful time, witnessing a smiling crowd of thousands of people – I don't know how many thousands. Mr Sullivan has suggested 50,000; well I wish it were 150,000, because this is one of the opportunities of a lifetime. It doesn't come very often in one's life to have the privilege of going through the wonderful show that this is. It reflects great credit on those that have been responsible for it.

'Some of the thoughts that went through my mind, were something like this: I thought of the early stages, when perhaps four or five or half a dozen men, or men and women, assembled round a table with conflicting ideas about what an exhibition should be. That's gone though various stages since then, and today one has had the privilege of viewing – very hurriedly I'll admit – some of their wonderful work.

'And it has been wonderful work, and it is only those who have gone through the Exhibition who will be able to appreciate the nature of the work. We have history in a nutshell. One would do a lot of reading before one could take in the development of shipping and transport generally which can be seen in this great assemblage of historical events. It would be impossible almost to read the matter that would be necessary to bring one in touch with the developments in the various phases of our industrial and general economic life. However I'm with the Mayor when he suggests every child in New Zealand seeing the Exhibition'.


Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Reference no: D4755.

Image: Savage carrying furniture into the first state house, 1937

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Hear Prime Minister Savage at the Centennial Exhibition, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated