New Zealand 21st Battalion Association

The 21st Battalion served in Greece, Crete, North Africa, and Italy in WWII. Its members association was formed in 1955, and when it was disbanded its collection was given to Auckland Museum. Here, Collection Photographer Richard Ng showcases some of his favourite 21B objects.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

In this story, Auckland Museum Collection Photographer Richard Ng showcases some of his favourites from the 21st Battalion Association collection. Read an interview with Richard about his work and hobbies on our website.

On its own, each object in a museum's collection tells a story, and, together, they describe a much deeper narrative. But in photographing objects for the museum's records, a photographer must record both the object's human story and its physical attributes—each nick and scratch, every dog-eared corner and patched hole.

Ticket dispenserAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

The 21st Battalion Association Collection was an intriguing collection to photograph due to the variety in type, textures and sizes of objects – ranging from a soldier’s paybook to a clubhouse bar counter, from a grenade and mortars to a pie warmer.

Ticket dispenser, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Ticket dispenser, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Character and integrity

The objects are relatively modern with some showing signs of use or natural weathering by time. Every object, with all its character and intricate details, was lit and accurately photographed in its own specific studio lighting setup.

To maintain the integrity of all our digital files there was no post-processing to be done to the image, making it critical to ensure we get a true image representation of the object in-camera at the point of capture.

Helmet, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Helmet, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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The challenges we, as photographers, face are not only to accurately digitise every object to archival standards, but also to exercise our innate creative desire to bring the each object to life—seeing each in a new light. Doing it justice.

Souvenir belt, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Even though most of the objects are from modern times, it was not lost on me the historical significance and stories they hold. Being the collection imaging photographer, I have the opportunity and honour to append to the story—adding our digital layer to the object’s history.

Souvenir beltAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Out of the whole 21st Battalion Association collection, the objects I found most striking and the most satisfying to photograph were the personal possession items, weaponry, and objects that are distinctly 21st Battalion Association clubhouse furniture and accessories.

Souvenir beltAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Souvenir beltAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

All of these are among my favourite objects from the collection.

Vending tray, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Vending tray, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Anzac poppy, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Anzac poppy, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Backpack, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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BackpackAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

BackpackAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

BackpackAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

BackpackAuckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Dispatch bag, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Dispatch bag, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Dispatch bag, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Dispatch bag, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Backpack, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Jacket Jacket, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Jacket, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Jacket, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Jacket, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Raffle game Raffle game, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Game Game, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Field dressing, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Tobacco tin, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Cigarette tin, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Sterilising kit, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Plaque, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Compass Compass, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Compass Compass, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Automatic pistol, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Cartridge case, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Bayonet, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Mills grenade, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Bayonet, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Mortar bomb Mortar bomb, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Bayonet Bayonet, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Bayonet Bayonet, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Bayonet, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Dagger, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Dagger, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Pocket knife, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Binoculars, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Binoculars, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Badges of office, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Badges of office, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Pennants, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Hanging scroll, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Hanging scroll, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Hanging scroll, From the collection of: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
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Credits: Story

Text and photographs by Richard Ng. The collection was photographed using a Canon 5DS with EF100mm f/2.8L Macro and EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM lenses. Studio lights are Broncolor Siros with various light modifiers.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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