New Zealand Forest Service – Trees

A cartoon promoting forest fire prevention, produced for the New Zealand Forest Service and Soil Conservation & Rivers Control Council.

Made using Gevacolor, this was the first colour animation advertisement made in New Zealand, and as such received considerable critical acclaim.

According to a Morrow Productions publicity flyer for the film, housed in a Morrow Productions clippings file at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, it was made on a limited budget approximately half the cost of a comparable overseas production.

4,500 animation drawings were required to make this film. For the camera movement through the forest, the painted background was moved by hand 450 times – which required more than eight hours' work under the camera.

Collection reference F1792
Year 1952
Credits Production Company: Morrow Productions; Music Composed: Christopher Small; Music Played: The Alex Lindsay Orchestra; Spoken: Alison Collins; Verses Written: Cedric Herbert

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The Listener Magazine

These two commercials advertising The Listener come from the era when the magazine was still very much aimed at its namesake – New Zealand radio listeners.

The magazine was started in 1939 by the National Broadcasting Service as a way of promoting upcoming radio programmes, a function explained by the first commercial with its "dial-hopping" husband.

The Listener broadened to include television listings from the 1960s, but also covered the arts and current affairs. It had a great influence on New Zealand's cultural life, publishing work by many well-known authors and poets. It was privatised in 1990. Learn more about the history of The Listener.

Collection reference 261843
Year 1950s
Credits Advertiser: The National Broadcasting Service

Flemings – Creamoata

"Sergeant Dan, the Creamoata Man / Scores Football tries with ease / Like All Blacks when its breakfast time / He says "Creamoata please!"

This radio advertisement from the 1950s promotes a series of glass cereal bowls featuring images of Creamoata's mascot, Sergeant Dan excelling in various sports, due to his choice of breakfast cereal! The bowls are now highly collectable.

Sergeant Dan was the mascot for Flemings Creamoata, a refined type of rolled oats that produced a creamy porridge. Flemings was associated with the Southland town of Gore for many years and the large mill built there in 1919 remains a landmark today. The brand was bought by Nestle and the cereal production moved to Australia under the Uncle Toby's brand in 2008. The Gore mill still produces stock feed under the Sergeant Dan name.

Watch a 1930s promotional film featuring Flemings Creamoata.

Collection reference 174103
Year 1950s
Credits Advertiser: Fleming and Co. Ltd

Aunt Daisy – Aulsebrook Butter Crackers

This excerpt is from Aunt Daisy's 15 February 1950 programme. Her show was broadcast on all the ZB commercial network stations of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service.

Housewives all over the country – and many men too – would tune in every weekday morning to listen to Aunt Daisy's cheery half-hour of advertorial, handy hints and recipes, delivered in her trademark, rapid-fire patter, which was largely unscripted.

Her real name was Maud Basham, and her radio career stretched from 1928 until only a few days before her death in 1963. Her power was such, advertisers said if she mentioned a product on-air at 9am, it was often sold out by midday. Listeners believed Aunt Daisy when she recommended a product and books of her recipes and home hints were also bestsellers.

In this excerpt Aunt Daisy is promoting Aulsebrook's Butter Crackers, and notes that the manufacturer is a long-established Christchurch firm.

In the same half-hour programme she managed to also promote 10 other products, from disinfectant to stockings. You can listen the full programme here.

Collection reference 26649
Year 1950
Credits Advertiser: Aulsebrook's Ltd.; Broadcaster: New Zealand Commercial Broadcasting Service network; Announcer: Maud Basham

Aunt Daisy – Slikka Freezer Pads

An excerpt from Aunt Daisy's 12 December 1958 morning programme. Her women’s show was a valued source of advice on housekeeping matters.

Here she enthusiastically promotes Slikka freezer pads in her characteristic rapid-fire monologue-style presentation, while banging the frozen pads on her desk.

She reports the freezer pads have a multitude uses: as cold packs in hospitals, for picnics and road trips, for use at the races / bowling clubs, for farmers to keep their drinks cold, "for people with boats – in Auckland or Wellington too, anywhere where you go out in boats… ohhh! how hot it gets in boats!"

She is particularly excited about the possibilities Slikka pads offer for getting icecream home from the shops without it melting: "no matter what the weather is you want icecream… you can put chopped walnuts and jam on the top, all the different things you put on icecream… Don’t worry about your icecream, you can buy it at lunchtime and it will still be alright when you get it home… It’s not fattening you know, it’s got all the nourishment of calcium and phosphorous…"

This promotion was probably part of the 1950s campaign by the national icecream manufacturer's association to encourage people to start thinking of icecream as a product to take home (now that more New Zealanders were starting to own home fridge-freezers).

Collection reference 36070
Year 1958
Credits Broadcaster: National Commercial Broadcasting Network; Announcer: Maud Basham

Edmonds Baking Powder – Cookery Nook

This promotion for the Edmonds Baking Powder Company features beloved radio personality Aunt Daisy (Maud Ruby Basham). 

Its narrative is entrenched with the gender stereotypes of 1950s suburbia. A beleaguered Dad tries to follow Aunt Daisy's recipe to make afternoon tea for his visiting boss, but it is a disaster: "Poor Dad, drifting amongst the donuts. He might know what the Ranfurly Shield is, but his cooking won’t win him any medals." His wife has gone out and he desperately needs female assistance. Fortunately the girls from the Home Science class come to his rescue and take control.

Includes scenes shot at the Edmonds factory in Christchurch.

Collection reference F9146
Year 1955
Credits Production Company: Pacific Films; Director: Roger Mirams, John O'Shea; Camera: Roger Mirams; Editor: John O'Shea; Sound: Lindsay Anderson; Cast: Aunt Daisy, Bill Ledsham, Fiona King, Rosina Eastmond, Robert Brett, Greta Greer; Commentary: Dennis Hurley; Produced: Roger Mirams, John O'Shea; Production Assistant: Eric Anderson

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Coca-Cola was popularised by American servicemen in New Zealand during World War Two. It was imported ready-made from 1939, and made locally from imported concentrate after 1944.

These three radio commercials from the 1950s advertise a new range of bottle sizes – available in Auckland only it seems. The locally-voiced content of the commercials has been enhanced with an American agency-produced jingle, "Bring home the Coke."

The fact that this commercial was Auckland-specific reflects that distribution of the product was not nationwide in the 1950s, and in some regions local soft drink brands and bottlers still held out against the larger international brands like Coca-Cola.

Collection reference 177837
Year 1956
Credits Broadcaster: New Zealand Broadcasting Service

Self-Help Groceries – Shilling Savers

This series of spoken advertisements by an announcer calling himself "Dick Playfair" tell radio listeners of 1952 what bargains could be had at their local Self-Help store for a shilling, or "one bob" (approximately 10-12 cents).

Self-Help was a forerunner of the modern supermarket, and as the name indicates, its point of difference was that shoppers could reach for groceries from the shelves themselves – rather than having to ask a storekeeper behind a counter to fetch them every item they wanted.

These commercials produced by the Commercial Broadcasting Service address both the housewife  – "Hello Mrs New Zealand" – and also young listeners – "Hello boys and girls, it's Uncle Dick from Self-Help."

Collection reference 31483
Year 1952
Credits Broadcaster: New Zealand Commercial Broadcasting Service; Advertiser: National Distributors Ltd

Self-Help Groceries – New Year

This series of spoken advertisements ran on the Commercial Broadcasting network in the summer of 1950 - 1951. They inform radio listeners about specials at Self-Help stores on summer essentials – such as cordials for cool summer drinks, and jellies and custards for cold desserts.

The advertisements are presented by a "shopping reporter," who calls himself "Dick Playfair." The shopping reporter was a standard of commercial radio from the 1930s until the early 1980s. Often a position given to a young woman, this broadcaster's role was to make recordings for advertisers, reporting on their latest specials or in-store promotions.

As technology advanced, shopping reporters could eventually broadcast live from the advertiser's premises to encourage listeners to "visit today."

Today, you may still hear the "live-cross" to a broadcaster running a sausage sizzle in a local car sales yard on a Saturday morning, or a radio station's promotional vehicle (such as the ZM Black Thunders) parked outside a local business giving away prizes. These are the modern descendants of the shopping reporter of yesterday.

Collection reference 31483
Year 1950
Credits Broadcaster: New Zealand Commercial Broadcasting Service; Advertiser: National Distributors Ltd

Gregg's Instant Pudding

Cerebos Gregg's is one of New Zealand's oldest food companies. It began operation in 1861, in Dunedin, as W. Gregg and Co Ltd. – producing coffee, spices and condiments and desserts.

This radio commercial from the 1950s focuses on the time-saving nature of Instant Pudding: "See less of the kitchen, more of the family, with Gregg's."

Collection Reference 184329
Year 1950s
Credits Advertiser: Cerebos Gregg's Ltd

Rawakelle Tea

The ever-evolving English language means expressions used in this late 1950s radio commercial for Rawakelle brand tea might now sound unintentionally amusing to today's listeners.

Apart from the traditional meaning of the term "gay," the Latin abbreviation for pounds, shillings and pence ("LSD"), has taken on quite a different meaning. It is also unlikely that advertisers today would joke about obesity when promoting their product!

Rawakelle tea was sold by Four Square grocery stores. The "just another Four Square service" jingle heard here would also be echoed in Four Square's television advertising, after television advertising arrived in New Zealand in 1961.

Collection reference 286237
Year 1957-59
Credits Advertiser: Foodstuffs N.Z. Ltd

Bushell's Coffee Essence

"The fragrant answer to a housewife's dream." This is a series of advertisements for Bushell's Coffee Essence liquid – the easy way to make a quick cup of coffee in the days before powdered instant coffee.

Instant coffee was introduced after World War II, but in 1950s New Zealand the liquid variety obviously still had its fans. It is available today as Bushell's Coffee and Chicory Essence and is used mostly for baking.

Bushell's is an Australian tea and coffee brand that arrived in New Zealand in 1937, and gained popularity by sending every housewife on the electoral roll a personally addressed letter together with a card entitling her to a half pound (225g) of tea, completely free of charge.

Collection Reference 31483
Year 1950s
Credits Advertiser: Bushell's Ltd

Shell Oil

In a cel animation a cartoon family drives through a futuristic landscape, filling up at Shell stations as they go. "Fill up at Shell with ICA and go, go, go," they sing.

This little gem was made for cinema advertising using the Technicolor process – and, according to the Levin Chronicle, the first Technicolor camera in the Southern Hemisphere (Chronicle, 16 April 1956). The film was sent from the Morrow Productions studio (owner of the camera), in Levin, to the Technicolor office in London for processing.

See a behind the scenes still, showing the making of this advertisement.

Collection reference C2572
Year 1959
Credits Production Company: Morrow Productions; Client: Shell Oil; Director: Michael Walker

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Unidentified woman holding up an animation cel used to make the Shell Oil ICA cinema advertisement.

Shell Oil – Making Of

This photograph depicts an unidentified woman at the Morrow Productions studio, Levin, holding up an animation cel used to make the Shell Oil ICA cinema advertisement.

This is one of thousands of drawings on acetate sheets that were used to animate the advertisement. Mike Walker of Morrow Productions recalled that 1,440 drawings were required for a typical minute of animated advertising ("Photography for you by Mike Walker," The News, 10 June 1992). The woman is likely applying colour to the cel.

In the advertisement, the three characters shown are a family happily driving through a colourful landscape, in a car fuelled by Shell.

Collection reference S15054
Year 1959
Credits Production Company: Morrow Productions; Image: Dominion Post; Source: Documentation Collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

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Royal New Zealand Air Force

This series of radio advertisements encourages young men – and women – to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force or Womens' Auxiliary Air Force.

The "wordy" nature of these one-minute spoken commercials is in contrast to fast-paced modern military service recruiting campaigns, which are full of the promise of action and adventure.

Travel and adventure are mentioned in some of the 1952 commercials, but also the "liberal rates of pay... and no doctor's, dentist's or clothing bills, with good accommodation and meals... and facilities for sports and hobbies."

Collection reference 31483
Year 1952
Credits Advertiser: Royal New Zealand Air Force

Behind the Scenes with N.A.C

This film promotes New Zealand’s first Vickers Viscount plane. The plane is shown landing at Whenuapai, at the end of its delivery voyage from the UK.

TV and radio personality Selwyn Toogood is the narrator and also a satisfied passenger – delicious food and smoking facilities are included on this flight.

Director Robert Steele later became a prominent figure in New Zealand’s independent film industry from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Collection reference F25490
Year 1959
Credits Production Company: Robert Steele Productions; Director: Robert Steele; Photography: Robert Clough; Writer: John Gundry; Narrated: Selwyn Toogood; News Commentator: Anthony Thomson

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The Austin Champ in New Zealand

A full colour promotional film for the new farm vehicle, the "battle tested four-wheel drive" Austin Champ , made on Waitiri Station in Central Otago.

The vehicle is put through its paces, driving off-road across paddocks and up mountainous terrain – where the farmers muster their sheep.

Collection reference F53856
Year 1954
Credits Production Company: Austin Motors (Otago) Ltd., Dunedin; Photography: Alex J Black; Commentary: Frank Phillips; Script: Alex J Black

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Landliner Coaches

In the decades before air travel became more affordable for New Zealanders, long-distance bus services were an alternative way of travelling between the main centres. At the top end of the market was the Luxury Landlines coach company, which ran "the world's most luxurious motor coaches" between Wellington and Auckland.

As this announcer-voiced commercial explains, these buses featured bathrooms, complimentary meal service and "an attentive Landliner hostess."

The Luxury Landliner company was eventually sold to the Mt Cook travel group.

Collection reference 36069
Year 1958
Credits Broadcaster: 2ZB Wellington

Westend Cigarettes

Tobacco consumption peaked in New Zealand in the early 1960s. These three commercials from the 1950s for Westend cigarettes use more advanced radio production techniques – including sound effects, multiple voices and music – to evoke three scenes with an atmosphere of enjoyment and sophistication, associated with smoking Westend cigarettes. The tagline for each is "Life is full of pleasantness."

In the first, a man enjoys a cigarette while reading "a good book in a cosy chair";  in the second, a couple sitting outside a dance enjoy a cigarette together; and in the third, a husband and wife enjoy breakfast in bed – and a Westend – "the cigarette you're proud to offer."

Following research and growing evidence on the harm of smoking, tobacco advertising was banned on radio and television in New Zealand in 1963 – eight years before a similar ban was introduced in the United States.

Collection reference 261861
Year 1950s
Credits NZ Broadcasting Service, Commercial Division; Advertiser: Westend Cigarettes (National Tobacco Co. Ltd)

Buckley's Canadiol Mixture

A series of radio commercials presenting skits of "Canadians" coping with harsh winter weather conditions, including a snowstorm complete with whirling wind sound effects.

"I’d swap all the uranium in the Great Bear Lake right now for a bottle of Buckley’s!" exclaims one man.

"Won’t be long and we’re eating moose steaks by the fire," replies his friend.

"Buckley’s first, for me," he retorts.

Buckley's Canadiol cough mixture was known for its efficiency – in spite of its bracing taste.

Collection reference 261862
Year c1950s
Credits Advertiser: David Sparkes Ltd

Hansen's D.D.T. Insect Spray

D.D.T. insecticide was banned in New Zealand in 1989, after increasing evidence that its residue remained in the biological food chain for many years, threatening bird and aquatic life in particular.

It was used extensively in New Zealand from the 1940s-1980s, to control grass grub in pastures and as this radio advertisement shows, was also popular to control insect pests in homes.

Collection reference 177611
Year 1950s
Credits Advertiser: Pest Eradicators NZ Ltd; Studio: Astor Recordings Studios