Auckland Bottle Works
New Zealand


Glass workers on horse-drawn bus
Above: Auckland glass workers campaigning against Prohibition, 1925

Author: Angela Bowey (grateful thanks to ACI New Zealand Glass Manufacturers)

The first successful bottle works in New Zealand was set up in 1922 by the Australian Glass Manufacturers' Company, at Penrose, near Auckland. For over a hundred years the demand for bottles in New Zealand had been closely related to brewing beer (see Chapter 1). So it was no surprise that the glass workers were opposed to the introduction of "Prohibition" during the 1920's. The picture above shows a horse-drawn omnibus and members of the Auckland Glass Workers' Union exhorting people to vote for "Continuance" (of liquor sales), in May 1925.

Beer was brewed all over New Zealand by the mid-19th century, local breweries re-using bottles from English beer. The shortage of bottles became chronic, and many attempts were made to set up successful bottle and glassworks in New Zealand, all of them failing. Part of the problem was opposition by bottle importers and the pro-British lobby. So when the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company, major exporters of bottles to New Zealand, built their bottle works in Auckland in 1922, they were careful to seek local favour. Before the factory was finished, they were already advertising in New Zealand. They took a stand at the 1921/22 Trade Fair (see picture below) and made a real effort to win over local and British industrialists and opinion leaders to the idea of their bottle works. Their sign at the Trade Fair read:

"These Goods were Made at our Australian Works.
We will shortly be Manufacturing Similar Ware at PENROSE
where we will Employ a Large Staff and consume thousands of
TONS of LOCAL COKE, COAL & SAND Annually.
For Box Making alone We will use a Large Quantity of N.Z. TIMBER
& for Glass Making we will Export from Britain Soda Ash & Other Chemicals
NEW ZEALAND HAS AS LARGE A POPULATION AS VICTORIA ........
Victoria Employs Directly 1000 MEN in this Industry. Why Not New Zealand?"

Trade Fair advert in 1922
Above, Trade Fair stand showing samples of bottles and a "Semi-automatic Bottle Blowing Machine"

This conciliatory approach seems to have worked, because the factory succeeded and to this day supplies almost the entire bottle requirements of New Zealand. They solved another problem, shortage of skilled glass workers in New Zealand, by bringing a contingent of staff from Sydney.

The story of glass bottle making in New Zealand is told in more detail in a book called New Zealand Glass. The second (revised) paperback edition has recently been published with a huge amount of information. (click here for more details).

Opening ceremony
Above, the opening ceremony of the Auckland Bottle Works at Penrose, 1922

Sources and references for this article:


New Zealand Glass bottles are featured in the author's book about New Zealand Glass. This book covers both extensive historical information and current glass artists in New Zealand.



INFORMATION about New Zealand Glass !
Including many original catalog pictures and dozens of photographs.
NOW available - this is the new second edition of this book and it covers the fascinating history of glass in New Zealand, the story of Crown Crystal Glass, NZ bottles and an overview of contemporary New Zealand glass artists.
Available as a paperback or as a Kindle book.

Price US$24.50 plus pp.

Buy Now or take a look


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INFORMATION about New Zealand Glass !
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NOW available - this is the new second edition of this book and it covers the fascinating history of glass in New Zealand, the story of Crown Crystal Glass, NZ bottles and an overview of contemporary New Zealand glass artists.
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Buy Now or take a look

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