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Object: Jigsaw puzzle, ’The Riddle of the Pacific’

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Title Jigsaw puzzle, ’The Riddle of the Pacific’
Production J W Ltd (manufacturer(s)), 1944, New Zealand
Materials cardboard, paper, ink
Classification jigsaw puzzles, board games
Technique printing
Dimensions Overall: 200mm (Height) x 260mm (Length) x 68mm (Width/Depth)
Overall: 446mm (Height) x 558mm (Length)
Overall: 455mm (Height) x 582mm (Length)
Credit line Gift of Alison Hutton, 2008
Registration number GH012050/1-4

This World War II jigsaw puzzle is based on the Pacific theatre of war. The box lid features a caricature of Hideki Tojo, a general of the Imperial Japanese Army and prime minister of Japan during most of the war (1941-44).

Generally, the enemy wasn’t directly demonised in New Zealand during the war. The occasional newspaper advertisement, letter to the editor, or game (such as this puzzle) featured racist, stereotypical or alarmist language and imagery. But these were the exception rather than the rule. Government propaganda used more subtle imagery, such as ‘rising sun’ graphics to suggest the oncoming Japanese.


Interestingly, this puzzle is a re-packaged version of a pre-war jigsaw called 'Jig Saw of Map of the Pacific the Far East'. The pieces remained the same, but the earlier packaging featured a benign image of an Asian junk sailing against a full moon beside a palm fringed coastline. The re-packaging shows how deeply New Zealand home life was affected by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and the subsequent fear of attack during 1942.

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Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.