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Object: Carved and painted wooden model of an alligator.

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Title Carved and painted wooden model of an alligator.
Production Unknown (carver), 1945, New Zealand
Materials wood, enamel paint
Classification ornaments, carvings
Technique woodcarving, painting
Dimensions Overall: 490mm (Length) x 95mm (Height) x 110mm (Width)
Credit line Purchased 2012
Registration number GH023139

This object is associated with Featherston Prisoner-of-War camp, which was the largest in New Zealand. Between 1942 and 1945, the camp housed about 850 Japanese PoWs. On 25 February 1943, the camp was the site of the notorious "Featherston Incident' when 48 PoWs and one New Zealand guard were killed.

The Featherston camp was New Zealand's first experience of housing and dealing with large numbers of enemy prisoners, and this object evokes a more specific aspect of relations between prisoners and their custodians. The original owner was a cook in the camp, and obtained the carving in 1945 by barter with one of the prisoners.

The carving is a good example of the handicraft work, usually wood carvings in Japanese style, which some of the prisoners produced for trade with guards and local people. Several other examples of this type of work are held at the Featherston Heritage Museum.

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