The Camera in the Crowd

The story of film in New Zealand during its first 25 years, from 1895–1920.

Dr Christopher Pugsley has worked with the Film Archive, now Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, for over 20 years researching our early film history. The results of this work have now been published in his book The Camera in the Crowd: Filming New Zealand in Peace and War, 1895-1920.

The book tells the story of film in New Zealand from 1895–1920, largely through the film that has survived — mere fragments of the hundreds of films shot. It is the story of New Zealand and New Zealanders on film for the last years of the Victorian era and the first two decades of the 20th century: a period that encompasses great political, technological and cultural changes, including the cataclysm of the First World War. It tells of the cameramen or cinematographers (as they were known), of the film they took and how the public reacted to it, and of New Zealand in those eventful years.

This exhibition gives a taste of some of the films discussed in The Camera in the Crowd. For more, purchase the book online or from your local bookseller.

The films of The Camera in the Crowd