Imperial Tobacco of Petone have been in the media spotlight lately, narrowly avoiding a prosecution by the Ministry of Health by agreeing to stop offering free cigarettes to its employees.
Imperial Tobacco used to be known as W. D. & H. O. Wills, who first set up in Petone in 1919. Here at the museum we hold a number of items from Wills in our collection, including some rather gorgeous “collecting card” albums,
filled with pictures of glamourous film stars.
This giant stack of various cigarette packets is a little overwhelming,
and I’m intrigued by the simplicity of this design. “It’s the tobacco that counts!”
This cheeky little guy is another favourite of mine.
Mary, our Business Operations Manager at Hutt City Museums, worked at Wills for many years, starting in 1987 in Accounts Receivable and working her way up to the role of PA to the National Marketing Manager.
Mary certainly remembers a lot of smoking going on, with a cigarette dispenser in the staff room giving out free ciggies and people regularly smoking at their desk. However she loved working there, describing it as having a family atmosphere, where people stayed for many years. She remembers a great deal of care for the team, with a Chaplain coming round once a week to touch base with staff and a regular Doctor’s clinic too.
The company even had its very own newspaper, the Tobacco Times!
Emma Bugden, Senior Curator