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Object: Poster, ’The Rising Sun Must Set’

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Title Poster, ’The Rising Sun Must Set’
Production New Zealand National Savings Committee (commissioner), 1942, Wellington
Medium summary Offset lithograph on paper
Materials printing ink, paper
Classification political posters
Technique offset lithography
Dimensions Overall: 700mm (Height) x 515mm (Width)
Credit line Gift of Mr C H Andrews, 1967
Registration number GH014048

This is a fund-raising poster designed and printed in World War II.


The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought the war into the Pacific and closer to New Zealand.The big fear for New Zealanders in the early months of 1942 was whether the country would be attacked. Enemy operations did take place in New Zealand waters and airways in the first half of 1942. However, the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff considered it unlikely that New Zealand would be invaded due to its remoteness. ‘Hit-and-run’ raids were more likely.

American successes against the Japanese in the Coral Sea and on Midway Island in May and June brought a small, cautious measure of hope. The Japanese advance, in fact, reached its limit in July 1942, but no one knew this at the time. The Japanese were tenacious fighters and no one was sure what would happen next.


The poster is an emotionally charged call for New Zealanders to give money to the war effort via saving bonds. There is a sinister element in its combination of threatening language and image. A depersonalised, hunched soldier faces away from the viewer, pointing his rifle at the heart of the Japanese imperial sun.

'Bomber Bonds' indicates the poster was aimed at persuading New Zealanders to invest money in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for the purchase of bombers. This advertising campaign took place in 1942.


Posters like this were successful appeals to New Zealanders' sense of patriotism and fear of attack. Nearly half the country's war spending was covered by internal borrowing through loans and savings bonds. New Zealand had no outstanding overseas debt as a result of World War II.

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