Born in Christchurch in 1908 (the elder of twin boys - his brother Paul would grow up to become an important architect) from his early 20s Pascoe was a keen mountaineer (and a less-than-keen clerk in his family's law firm). He discovered a talent for photography when he began making records of routes and tracks using a camera.
In the 1930s Pascoe moved to Wellington. In 1937 he wrote to Joe Heenan, under-secretary at the Department of Internal Affairs looking for work. Heenan eventually made him the illustrations editor for the 30-part Centennial series Making New Zealand. In 1942 Heenan appointed Pascoe as an official war artist, and he travelled the country documenting New Zealanders' wartime life.
Pascoe had a long career with DIA, as well as publishing as a photographer and writer in his own right, including being the founding secretary of the Historic Places Trust and as chief archivist at the National Archives. Pascoe was still in this role when he died in Christchurch in 1972.
Pascoe's iconic images are ... iconic, especially from the war era. There's his strapping physical education instructors
|John Pascoe, Female trainee physical education instructors, Hutt Valley, Wellington, March 1944. Alexander Turnbull Library|
|John Pascoe, Land girl, Carol Sladden, having a cigarette, Mangaorapa, Hawke's Bay, 1943. Alexander Turnbull Library.|
|John Pascoe, Joseph Takuta, 1946. Alexander Turnbull Library.|
|John Pascoe, Maori guard and prisoner at the Japanese prisoner of war camp near Featherston, 1943. Alexander Turnbull Library.|
|John Pascoe, Laurie Walker and horse, Manuka Point Station, 1943. Alexander Turnbull Library|
|John Pascoe, Jetty at East Bay, Arapawa Island, c.1945. Alexander Turnbull Library.|