Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Harriet Cobb (1846-1929)

Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Harriet Cobb (1846-1929)

  Woman and infant , 1885-1887, Hawke’s Bay, by J. E. & H. Cobb. Te Papa (O.045044)

Woman and infant, 1885-1887, Hawke’s Bay, by J. E. & H. Cobb. Te Papa (O.045044)


Curator Historical Photography Lissa Mitchell takes a look at the life and career of Harriet Cobb, who operated two successful photography studios in the late-1800s and into the 20th century.



In 1884 professional photographers Harriet and Joseph Cobb and their nine children arrived in New Zealand ready to set up photographic studios in the Hawke’s Bay.

Harriet Cobb’s father was early Bournemouth photographer Robert Day (1822-1873)who taught his daughter the photographic trade. After arriving in New Zealand from Britain in 1884 with her husband Joseph, the couple operated two studios in Napier (from 1884) and Hastings (from 1885) but after Joseph’s bankruptcy in 1887, Harriet won a plea to continue to operate the businesses and successfully operated both studios in her name until she retired in 1911.

Read full essay on the Te Papa Blog

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