Powerful and poignant, the World Press Photo Exhibition showcases the highs and lows of 2012.

A group of distraught men carry dead babies in a Palestinian funeral procession in war-torn Gaza and the unconditional love of a wife for her Alzheimer’s stricken husband – these moments in time form part of the thought-provoking collection of the world’s best images of 2012.

The internationally-renowned World Press Photo Exhibition is being brought to New Zealand by the Rotary Club of Auckland and will be on display at the New Zealand premiere in Auckland from July 6to July 28 2013.

Now in its 56th year, the exhibition features the best images from over 100,000 entries of photographers around the world. Judged in Amsterdam, the prize-winning photographs are assembled into a travelling exhibition that is viewed by over a million people in 40 countries.

Craig Dealey, president of Auckland Rotary says he is delighted Rotary is able to bring the World Press Photo Exhibition to New Zealand for the fourth consecutive year.

“The World Press Photo Exhibition gives New Zealanders the chance to see the calibre of photography from the world stage and serves as a vivid reminder of how precious the relative peace and prosperity we get to enjoy in New Zealand really is,” Dealey says.

“The exhibition is a fundraising initiative that fits with the values around health, education, poverty and harmony of Rotary worldwide, with one of the club’s guiding principles being the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace.”

The winning picture shot by photojournalist Paul Hansen from the daily Swedish newspaper The Daegens Nyheter, shows a group of men carrying the bodies of two dead children through a street in Gaza City. With the father’s body carried behind on a stretcher, the children are being taken to a mosque as part of the burial ceremony. Two year old Suhaib Hikazi and his older brother Muhummad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their mother was left in intensive care.

"This prize is the highest honour you can get in the profession," Hansen told The Associated Press. "I'm very happy, but also very sad. The family lost two children and the mother is unconscious in a hospital.

"These situations are so visually complex," he added. "It's difficult to convey the emotions, to translate what is happening. The light is harsh and there are a lot of people.

"But in the alley the light bounced off the walls, so I thought this is a place where you can see that it's a procession. ... You get the depth in the image, and the bouncing light."

The exhibition is rarely without controversy – this year’s winner was placed under scrutiny with critics alleging the image was digitally enhanced. Two independent experts carried out a forensic investigation but found there was no evidence of significant photo manipulation.

The World Press Photo Exhibition is being held at Smith & Caughey’s on Auckland’s Queen St. The exhibition will then travel to Wellington hosted by the Netherlands Society.

This year, 5,666 photographers from 124 nationalities submitted 103,481 photographs into the competition. An international jury of 21 photography professionals judged the exhibition.

A downloadable mobile app has been created that allows visitors to learn more about the image, listen to the photo’s audio caption, meet the photographer and provide access to share favourite images via social media.

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