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Victoria University of Wellington. Wai-te-ata Press

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: vwai


  • Creation: March 1962-1986; 1995 -

Access and use

Access is freely available in the J.C.Beaglehole Room for research and private study. For any use beyond this, please contact the J.C.Beaglehole Room ( in the first instance.

Biographical/Historical note

The Wai-te-ata Press was founded in 1962 by Professor D. F. McKenzie as a bibliographical press for the Victoria University Department of English. The notes below are taken from the Press's current webpage at

"Wai-te-ata Press was founded in 1962 by Professor Don McKenzie of the Department of English. It functioned initially as a practical extension of the department's honours courses in paleography, bibliography, and textual study, particularly in relation to issues and problems of research in literary works dating from 1450-1850. In Don's inimitable words, the aura of the Press was an enduring experience: "the Wai-te-ata Press is as antiquated and as obsolete as diligent inquiry and dust-disturbing visits to old newspaper offices and defunct printing shops can make it." Students were taught all aspects of early book production from hand-setting text with lead or wooden type to inking, printing, collating and binding. These printer's devils, or "several hands" as they were often described, helped Don (The Doctor) to expand the Press from a purely educational-oriented bibliographic press in the College or University tradition into a small printing and publishing house which promoted cultural events on and off-campus, and produced first edition poetry and prose.....The Press was originally located in two garages at numbers 10 and 12 Wai-te-ata Road, Wellington. ....water leaks have plagued the Press's various relocations and incarnations. The Press owes its existence in large part not only to the enthusiasm and forward thinking of its founder, but to the arrival of its first piece of equipment, a Stanhope Press, on indefinite loan from Cambridge University Press. ... During the 60s and 70s, Wai-te-ata Press was a key contributor to the development and recognition of New Zealand literature. It made contemporary writing readily available to students and the general public at a price and in a format accessible to the reading/buying public. This was during a time in which printed works of writers were difficult if not impossible to publish, sell or buy in NZ bookshops, let alone overseas. Significant writers printed and published by Wai-te-ata Press during this period include Alistair Campbell, James K. Baxter, Peter Bland, Charles Brasch, Charles Doyle, Sam Hunt, Iain Lonie, and Bill Manhire. Four issues of the literary journal Words: Wai-te-ata Studies in Literature also appeared occasionally from 1965-1974 and featured student honours essays as well as critical works on major literary figures. The work of New Zealand visual artists Robin White, Don Peebles, Joanna Paul and Grant Tilley featured in many of the Press's publications as title-page designs, frontispieces, or illustrations.... When Professor McKenzie moved from Wellington to Oxford in 1986, some of the equipment was maintained by the Department of Library and Information Studies as part of their Printing Laboratory established in December 1981 by Professor Roderick Cave. This laboratory was located initially on Kelburn Parade, and called "The Printing Office on the Parade," then in the basement of the new School of Music building. Several fascimile editions of documents on the history of printing appeared during this period and many budding rare book librarians found themselves hooked by the smell of ink and the glow of newly-cast type. With Professor Cave's departure from New Zealand to teach in Singapore in 1993 the Printing Office closed. Wai-te-ata Press was officially re-established on 24 February 1995 as part of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington, and is currently managed by Dr. Sydney Shep.

An historical overview ws published in 1982.

For current details, see the website


180 linear_centimeters

Language of Materials


J C Beaglehole Room - archives and manuscripts
Edited Full Draft
Nicola Frean
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Finding aid is written inEnglish
Edition statement
XML EAD edition

Repository Details

Part of the Tapuaka Heritage & Archive Collections - JC Beaglehole Reading Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library Repository

P O Box 3438
Wellington 6140 New Zealand
+64 4 4635681