Category Archives: NZ History

Decimal Currency – Mr. Dollar the Teacher 1967

50 years of Decimal Currency

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision)

The New Zealand dollar first came into use 50 years ago when we switched over to decimal currency on the 10th of July 1967. That date is embedded in the memories of many older New Zealanders, thanks to a very catchy advertising jingle which was heard on radio and television in the year leading up to the conversion:
“Don’t shed a tear in July next year, for cumbersome pounds and pence. From July next year, every clerk and cashier will be dealing in dollars and cents..”


38400 Decimal currency radio commercial 1966

Radio and television advertising played a key role in getting New Zealanders used to the idea of a whole new currency system and the end of the pounds, shillings and pence inherited from Britain. The advertising campaign for the switch to decimal began the previous year and featured an animated character named “Mr Dollar.” He and the jingle reminded everyone of the date for Decimal Currency Day, known as “D.C. Day”


C1098 Decimal currency. Mr Dollar. (Morrow Productions)

C9904 Decimal currency. Mr Dollar. (Morrow Productions)

Retailers were obviously the sector most affected by the currency change. A radio commercial in our collection from the transition period, gives grocery prices at the national supermarket chain ‘Self-Help’ in both currencies.


39895 Self-Help commercial, 1967

There was a lot of debate around what to call the new currency. Some suggested names included the ‘crown’, the ‘fern’, the ‘tūi’, the ‘Kiwi’ and the ‘Zeal’. But in the end, we settled on the ‘dollar’, as did Australia who had switched to decimal the previous year.

The designs of the new currency were also the subject of hot debate. Some initial designs for the new coins were leaked to the media and there was outcry in Canterbury over a planned 20-cent piece which featured a rugby player – wearing a jersey which looked suspiciously like an Auckland team uniform.

Rejected designs for New Zealand’s new decimal coins in 1967. (Alexander Turnbull Library)

The designs for the 1967 notes were less controversial, with all of them featuring native birds on one side and a portrait of the Queen on the other. Dr A.H. McLintock, who was a member of the government’s Coinage Design Advisory Committee, was interviewed for the radio about the design process and commented on how pleased they were with the new decimal banknote designs.


40194 Decimal currency interview with A.H. McLintock

The new decimal currency was the subject of this humorous commercial recording, a 45rpm disc, released by Kiwi Records featuring The Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Auckland. On one side they intone the New Zealand weather forecast and on the reverse, they sing the words of an official brochure called “Dollars and Cents and You”, which was delivered to every household in New Zealand by the Decimal Currency Board. The choir renamed it “Dismal Currency” for their recording. Here is a brief excerpt:


19652 The New Zealand Weather Forecast/Dismal Currency – Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral
KIWI SA60

And what happened to all that old money …

New Zealand representative rugby union team, New Zealand vs Britain, 1930

Our oldest recorded sports broadcast – the All Blacks vs the British Lions, June 21, 1930

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision)

The first test between the All Blacks and the current touring Lions side takes place this Saturday at Eden Park and nearly 90 years ago this week, a similar match took place and entered the history books for several different reasons. 
 
On June 21st 1930, the All Blacks met a touring British side for their first test at Carisbrook in Dunedin. This tour was the first time the British Isles team started to be called by their nickname “The Lions”, although the name wasn’t officially adopted until the 1950s. The home side featured legendary New Zealand rugby names like George Nepia and Cliff Porter, who can be seen in the photo above.

All Blacks, lions, rugby 1930
Otago Daily Times, 22 June 1930, Courtesy Papers Past

It was shocking weather with driving snow, but still a crowd of 28,000 people turned out. You can listen to Sarah Johnston from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about the broadcast of this match, or read more below about why this game has gone down in New Zealand media history.

The All Blacks lost the game 3-6,  making it New Zealand’s first loss at home to Britain,  but it was also the first time an international match had been broadcast here – and it is our oldest sound recording of any New Zealand sports commentary and a pioneering example of local sound film recording.

All blacks rugby lions tour 1930
Otago Daily Times, 22 June 1930, Courtesy Papers Past

 
Radio broadcasting began in New Zealand in 1921 and sports commentaries started being broadcast in 1926, but none of these were able to be recorded because sound recording technology was still fairly immobile.  You could only record by cutting sound onto acetate or lacquer discs and the equipment was not able to be easily taken out of the studio to sporting events.  So all earlier 1920s sports broadcasts simply went out live-to-air and were not recorded.
 
However in 1929,  sound films (the “Talkies”), arrived in New Zealand. A Dunedin silent film cameraman Jack Welsh,  acquired some sound film recording equipment and his experiments with this new technology were significant enough to make news in the capital’s “Evening Post” newspaper:
 
“TALKIE” PLANT MADE IN DUNEDIN

Two young Dunedin men have successfully built a “talkie” film recording plant, after months of slow and tedious work. Mr. Jack Welsh, working in his laboratory at Anderson’s Bay, transferred sound, from a gramophone record on to a film. When the first trial of the reproduction was made in the projection-box at a Dunedin theatre, the melody was jumbled and marred, but the results showed that Mr. Welsh was well on the way to discovering a satisfactory method of recording. In Dunedin yesterday another trial of the reproduction was made of speeches recorded in the room on Friday night, and the improvement was remarkable.

(Evening Post 06 Mar 1930 Courtesy Papers Past)
 
Jack Welsh had already made quite a few silent films of local sports events in the late 1920s, some which you can watch on our website, such as cricket at Carisbrook in 1929. With his new equipment he now made some experimental sound recordings and by June 1930 he was ready to use it to film the test against the British side. 
 
Providing the sound for his film would be a local minister and rugby referee Reverend A.L. Cantor, who had been a regular rugby commentator for Dunedin radio station 4YA.  Years later in an interview held in our sound collection, he recalled how he took his seat in the Carisbrook broadcasting box, along with his wife, two radio technicians, two Lions players who were on the bench (Welshman T.E. Jones-Davies and Brit Douglas Kendrew), as well as Jack Welsh and his partner J.H. Gault – making it a rather cosy space on a snowy Dunedin day.


A.L. Cantor recalls the test match between New Zealand and the British Isles Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID146483
 
The score stayed at 3-all right up until nearly fulltime, but as Rev. Cantor describes, a sensational last minute try by the visiting side caused chaos in the commentary box, when the British player Kendrew could not contain his excitement at seeing his side win.


A.L. Cantor recalls the test match between New Zealand and the British Isles Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID146483
 
Unfortunately, the outburst by the over-excited Kendrew (who later became Major-General Sir Douglas Kendrew, Governor of Western Australia) was not recorded as part of Welsh and Gault’s film of New Zealand’s oldest sports commentary, but you can hear part of A.L. Cantor’s commentary and watch excerpts of the game on the film, which Welsh titled “New Zealand Audible Items of Interest.” (Note the All Blacks played in white jerseys, to avoid confusion with the dark blue of the British players.)
 

F4483 NEW ZEALAND AUDIBLE ITEMS OF INTEREST. Sound by J H Gault, Camera by Jack Welsh. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Plunket-Feature-Image

Happy Birthday Plunket !

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision)

The Plunket Society turned 110 years old this month.  One of New Zealand’s most famous institutions,  “The Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children” was founded at a public meeting in Dunedin in May 1907 by Dr Frederic Truby King.

It was re-named The Plunket Society after one of its early supporters, Lady Plunket, the wife of the governor-general at the time.

 You can hear Sarah Johnston from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about recordings about Plunket here or read more and listen to the full recordings at the links below.

Truby King and Madelaine
Andrew, Stanley Polkinghorne, 1878-1964. Truby King and Madelaine. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 8. Ref: PAColl-6075-16. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23127422

Kate Challis Hooper trained as an early Karitane nurse at Truby King’s first hospital at Anderson’s Bay near Dunedin in 1915.  In this interview from 1961 she vividly describes the rather spartan conditions for nurses and babies, but also her enthusiasm for Dr King’s work, “helping mothers and saving babies.”

Kate Challis Hooper recalls the early days (1961, Ref. 2074) Listen to complete item here.

It seems nowhere was too remote for Plunket.  Mrs Beryl Sutherland, who raised her family near Milford Sound in the 1930s (as her husband worked on building the Homer Tunnel),  recalls getting a welcome visit from Plunket in her remote location.

Life at the Homer Tunnel during the 1930s (1970, Ref 2083) Listen to complete item here.

In 1952, the magazine programme, “Radio Digest” visited Plunket’s  Karitane Hospital at Melrose in Wellington to mark it’s 25th anniversary and broadcaster David Kohn interviewed nurses as well as a resident mother, who had been enjoying Plunket’s care so much she was reluctant to go home!

Radio Digest No. 149 (1952, Ref 2087) Listen to complete item here.

Plunket Book cover 1937
Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children :”Plunket Society”. Baby record; Plunket nurse’s advice to mothers. “To help the mothers and save the babies” [Front cover. 1936]. Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children :”Plunket Society” Baby record; Plunket nurse’s advice to mothers. “To help the mothers and save the babies” [Printed by] C S W Dunedin. O6979 – 9/36 [1936]. Ref: Eph-A-CHILD-1936-01-front. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23078909
AhiparaFeature

Solving a Mystery: The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade

- By Lawrence Wharerau (Kaiwhakataki: Programme Coordinator, Māori, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

I have an affinity with Northland – I love the bush, the people and the sea too, and it’s not just because I’m from down them ways. One of my favourite places on earth is Ahipara, by the sea at the southern end of Te Oneroa a Tohe aka Ninety Mile Beach and sheltered by the Tauroa Peninsular to the west. The Herekino Forest has its eastern flank and it is 14kms northeast to Kaitaia, with Pukepoto in between. Shipwreck and Ahipara Bays are famous surf spots and they were once popular places for gathering toheroa.

Some years ago (as in over 15 years ago), I was going through the film collection at The Film Archive (as Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was then known), when I came across an amateur film called Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade, circa 1955, which piqued my interest. I had never heard of this brigade and initial enquiries gave little evidence about what they were about nor who these women were. At the time I was curating for a ten marae screening tour of Northland for the project Te Hokinga Mai o Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua ki Ngāpuhi.

The Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.
The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. (Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.)

The seven-minute film starts with a wide shot overlooking Ahipara from the top of Whangatauatia Mountain, which dominates the environs to the south of the seaside village and is the gateway to the Ahipara gumfields. Then it shows several of the brigade members going about normal domestic duties: hanging washing, ironing, gardening, and the like. Cut to a rubbish pile on fire, a call is made to the local fire station, the klaxon fire alarm is activated, and then it’s all on. It’s down tools and aprons and a mad rush to ready the fire tenders, a Land Rover with trailer and a flat-bed truck, packing the required equipment, and heading off to the incident. Hoses are run out and the fire is attended to with a crowd looking on.

Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).
Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).

You can watch the film on our online catalogue, here

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Happy St Patrick’s Day!

To get in the spirit for Ireland’s national day you can listen to this “Spectrum” radio documentary from 1996, about Auckland’s St Patrick’s Festival.

 

Dancers at the Irish National Feis, Kilbirnie, Wellington - Photograph taken by John Nicholson. Dominion post (Newspaper) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1986/5281/18-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23030957
Dancers at the Irish National Feis, Kilbirnie, Wellington – photograph taken by John Nicholson. Dominion post: photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1986/5281/18-F. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23030957

 

Or tune in to Sarah Johnston talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about Irish recordings in our Sound Collection.  

MatatiniFeature

Te Matatini 2017

- By Lawrence Wharerau (Kaiwhakataki: Programme Coordinator, Māori, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Every two years the crème de la crème of kapa haka artists put their reputations on stage and on show. Dubbed the Olympics of traditional Māori performing arts, Te Matatini is an essential biannual booking in many Māori calendars.

This year’s festival (Feb 23-26) was hosted by Ngāti Kahungunu, at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park. The event ran across four days, with 47 teams of 40 members each competing in pool rounds for the first three days. The finals on the last day then featured the top three performing groups from each pool.

The competition was fierce and the performances even more so, as groups competed for the auspicious and highly coveted Duncan MacIntyre trophy presented to the overall winner.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision's tent at Te Matatini 2017.
Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s tent at Te Matatini 2017. (Image: Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga)

 

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision were invited to have a presence in the corporate sponsors area by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga along with Creative New Zealand. As Kaiwhakataki – Programme Coordinator, Māori, I curated a number of screening programmes to be played out on a large monitor in the tent we shared with MCH and CNZ. Pou Ārahi for Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Honiana Love, also attended as part of the archive’s work developing iwi relationships. Continue reading

Happy 70th NZSO

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra turns 70 this week, marking the anniversary of its first public performance in the Wellington Town Hall, on 6 March 1947. Extensive recordings from the orchestra’s early years are held in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s sound collection, and RNZ Concert have drawn upon this archival audio to produce a series of programmes marking the event.

You can listen to them at the links below:

National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season ... 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season … 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
BoyInTire

91 Years Ago: Athletic Antics

91 years ago today, a fun time was had by all at a sporting event at Athletic Park, Wellington. This silent film footage, shot on 6 March 1926, includes scenes showing various sporting events, including: javelin, long and short distance running, hurdles, cycling races and high jump – as well as some slightly less conventional athletic feats, such as the “boys inside tyre race.”

 


Rose v. Hahn In Final Mile Test & Chief Events at Sports Meeting, Athletic Park 6 March 1926 (shot by Joseph Sylvanus Vinsen)

 

The film also features footage of Randolph Rose, one of New Zealand’s first great distance runners, defeating the American champion at Masterton two days earlier.

 

J S Vinsen with a motion picture camera. Tesla Studios: Negatives of Wanganui and district taken by Alfred Martin, Frank Denton and Mark Lampe. Ref: 1/1-017471-F. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301776
J S Vinsen with a motion picture camera. Tesla Studios: Negatives of Wanganui and district taken by Alfred Martin, Frank Denton and Mark Lampe. Ref: 1/1-017471-F. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301776

 

The film was produced to a high standard by Joseph Sylvanus Vinsen. The smart intertitles that introduce each event are designed in modern 1920s fonts and feature a graphic of a runner. It would have been screened locally, as a prelude to a longer film feature, allowing people who participated in the event the pleasure of seeing themselves or their friends / family members on screen.

 

Rose v. Hahn In Final Mile Test & Chief Events at Sports Meeting, Athletic Park 6 March 1926 ()
Intertitle from “Rose v. Hahn In Final Mile Test & Chief Events at Sports Meeting, Athletic Park 6 March 1926″ (shot by Joseph Sylvanus Vinsen)

 

- By Ellen Pullar (Digital Programme Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

ScottBaseFeature

61 Years Ago: Building Scott Base, Antarctica

61 years ago, in February 1956, the design of Scott Base, Antarctica commenced. The project was led by Edmund Hillary. A unique film held in the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, called The Design and Construction of Scott Base Antarctica: 357 Days (Ministry of Works, 1957), follows the progress on Scott Base.

The film’s narrative charts the design and build of the base, the testing of its construction materials, the departure of Hillary and his team by ship on 10 December 1956, through to the men’s activities on the base in Antarctica.


The Design and Construction of Scott Base Antarctica: 357 Days (Ministry of Works, 1957)

The designers of Scott Base were faced with significant challenges in conceptualising the buildings – as the film’s narrator informs us:

“nobody had endeavoured to design a permanent home in these circumstances before.”

Continue reading

MainlandRGB

“I’ve Never Seen Them So Excited…”

One great thing about working at an audiovisual archive is helping people connect with the stories and faces of their past.

Not long ago, a member of the public – Richard Poole – contacted one of our Client Services team asking if we had a copy of a certain Mainland Cheese advertisement from the 1980s.

The ad was filmed outside the Mahinapua Hotel on the West Coast in 1985. In it, some of the locals have come down to the pub to “put in a good word for the local vintage.” They’re silently leaning on a truck in the background and the narrator tells us that he’s “never seen them so excited.”

Richard told us that his uncle, George Gillingham, happened to be one of the old timers in the background, leaning on the truck outside the pub. On the day of the filming George and some mates had just returned from whitebaiting, when they were approached by the film crew to help out with the film shoot.

Richards says his uncle was a born and bred West Coaster who, in the 1930s, felled bush to create a farm just south of Harihari (South Westland). When he retired from farming, he was the caretaker at Hokitika High School, admired and remembered by many. He also like to write poetry and the odd bit of prose.

Richard recalls that his Uncle George used to airmail whitebait to his family in the Hutt (Epuni), and “could you believe that we ate so much, we nearly got sick of them!”

The advertisement is now on our online catalogue – you can watch it here.

 

This is just one amongst tens of thousands of television advertisements held in the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, dating back to the birth of commercial TV in New Zealand in 1961. We’re currently working on an online exhibition that will showcase more advertising gems from our country’s television and radio history – this will launch later in 2017, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for the announcement.

 

Thank you to Richard Poole for sharing this story. We hope you and your family have enjoyed seeing this ad with your Uncle George again.