New Zealand is home to prolific and high-quality agriculture and horticulture industries. Much of what we produce is exported to markets overseas and a big part of that game is advertising.
Here we take a look at a few classic commercials for fruit and dairy. We also take a listen to some episodes of Spectrum, the Radio New Zealand documentary series that ran from 1974 to 2016. These programmes look at the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to produce some of our commodities. All told, they depict a country of high-quality produce and of Aotearoa as a plentiful store of orchards and dairy fields to supply other countries.
These ads were made for Apple & Pear Marketing Board and were screened in the United Kingdom. They were such a hit they had their run extended, then were among the first commercials shown in New Zealand once commercial television arrived on 1 April 1961.
This series was made by Levin-based animation studio Morrow Productions. Ngā Taonga holds the Morrow archives in our collection.
Another Morrow production features a small classroom breaking for morning tea. The clip has a teacher and two students, and features a similar jaunty tune and the message of ‘fresh up with an apple’.
Captured Sunshine – New Zealand’s Fruit Export Industry.
This 1934 film from the New Zealand Government Publicity Office shows fruit growing in Nelson and Hawke’s Bay. Apples, pears, peaches and citrus are all featured and the film covers the whole export process – picking, sorting, packing and shipping. We also see the fruit getting a once-over by government inspectors – is it fit to export? The film notes that more than 1.5 million cases of fruit were exported in the early 1930s. Fruit sector exports are now measured financially, but we’re confident the number of cases has since increased, totalling $6.6 billion NZD in 2020.
As a government promotional recording, it also includes a scenic trip to the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony.
It’s All Go Now
‘It’s all go now’ is the title of this Spectrum episode and is an apt description for what is a very hands-on process. ‘The rewards are there, but it’s all sweat and tears and hard work!’ notes ‘gun picker’ Nigel Burberry. Producer Jerome Cvitanovich talks with orchardists and their families in the Havelock North area about the highs and lows – bumper crops to hailstorms.
‘The Kiwifruit Capital of the World’ – of course it’s Te Puke. The green gold rush has changed Te Puke from a small town to a bustle of backpackers and millionaires.
Kiwifruit Carousel tracks the rise and rise of the fruit, though it was not without a lot of hard graft. Once again it’s a story of fruit to be picked, packed and stored – each May and June during the intense four or five weeks of the harvest. Host Jack Perkins speaks with those doing the incredibly busy work and hears how it leads warehouse staff to dream of kiwifruit.
The Milky 1980s
Milk and dairying is a major part of the culture and diet for many New Zealanders. As the 1980s rolled around, its advertising needed a new angle: the fresh culture of hip hop. The silver-topped Full Cream leads the crew explaining the different milk bottle colours. One of our viewers got in touch after we shared this previously to note that they had performed ‘The Milk Bottle Rap’ on a childhood holiday. Is it time for a rapping and breakdancing milk revival?
There’s a more placid take in this 1981 commercial – contented cows making their way to morning milking with Murray the farmer. This is one of more than 20 commercials made for the Milk Promotions Council in 1978 – 1982
This recording is advertising from a very different era. This 1929 New Zealand Government Publicity Office film looks at dairy farming and cheese production in Taranaki. Films like this were screened around the country and overseas, and promoted both New Zealand and the products depicted. This film likely would have shown as part of a cinema programme including newsreels, shorts and a feature.
Spectrum: We’re Milking 420
Finally this 1982 episode of Spectrum talks to South Taranaki dairy farmer Len Scott, and as with horticulture, it’s very hands-on. Len and his family and staff deal with calving, milking and unwell cows.
Banner image – Part of the season’s apple crop, July 1907, 16 July 1907, Levin, by Leslie Adkin. Te Papa (A.008835)