Ephemera Collection

The McNab New Zealand Collection also has a little-known collection of ephemera dating from the 19th Century until today.

Our ephemera collection consists of transitory printed matter, including programmes, pamphlets, brochures, invitations, tickets, calling cards, greeting cards, postcards, and more.  It is only catalogued at a rudimentary level but has many items of interest.

Theatre programmes make up the bulk of the collection, some of these dating back to the 1800s – many for theatres that no longer exist. There are many programmes for local productions but also for a large number of visiting musicians, singers, theatre and dance troupes.

Exhibitions of all sorts are also represented, both New Zealand and overseas.

Ephemera Collection

Please note:

A significant proportion of the ephemera is yet to be catalogued, and so will not be find-able via the library catalogue.

If you're unable to find what you’re looking for via our catalogue, you are most welcome to contact Heritage staff - we're always happy to help with access to our uncatalogued material.

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For a taste of some of our theatre ephemera, you can browse this online exhibition, based on the 2016 Reed Gallery Exhibition, Flits across the stage.

Below are some of the categories, organisations and events covered by our ephemera collection (not an exhaustive list – indicative only):


  • Art exhibitions, local and from overseas 1930-
  • Art festivals and art schools
  • Cartoons, miscellaneous artists / David Low / Gordon Minhinnick / Sid Scales / Keith Waite
  • Dunedin Camera Club
  • Dunedin Photographic Society
  • Dunedin Public Art Gallery & Society
  • Otago Arts Society
  • Photography exhibitions


  • Ballet - in New Zealand / Royal New Zealand Ballet / from overseas /
  • Dance performances


  • City of Literature
  • Dunedin Public Library - booklists and bibliographies


  • Brass bands and pipe bands, Dunedin
  • Chamber music, including Dunedin Chamber Music Society, Dunedin Concert Society
  • Classical and instrumental music – New Zealand / from overseas
  • Dunedin Orphans’ Club
  • Orchestral music concerts, DSO, NZSO
  • Vocal Music – in Dunedin / in New Zealand / from overseas

Opera & Operatic

  • Light opera and musical comedy – New Zealand / from overseas
  • Dunedin Opera Company
  • Dunedin Operatic Society


  • IV British Commonwealth Paraplegic Games, Dunedin
  • X British Commonwealth Games, Christchurch, 1974
  • Sport - General


  • British Drama League
  • Dunedin Burns Club & Dunedin Shakespeare Club
  • Theatres: Fortune Theatre 1974- / Globe Theatre/ His Majesty’s Theatre / Playhouse Theatre / Regent Theatre
  • Theatre/Drama - Societies and Collectives : Dunedin Repertory Society 1934- / New Zealand Players; Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan / and others
  • Theatre (miscellaneous) - in Dunedin / in New Zealand / from overseas
  • Otago Theatre Trust


  • Armed services, New Zealand, including Dunedin R.S.A., tattoos and military events
  • Burns and Garrison Halls
  • Business catalogues
  • Centennial celebrations
  • Christmas cards collection
  • Church music, services & events
  • Clubs and societies
  • Dunedin City Council and local government
  • Dunedin Orphans’ Club
  • Education & Educational Courses
  • Election pamphlets – local government and central government
  • Festivals and competitions 1915-
  • Film
  • Public meetings, protests, demonstrations
  • Royal visits
  • School occasions
  • University graduation