In July 1919 Peace Days were held throughout New Zealand, and other countries in the British Empire including the United Kingdom, to mark the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the end of World War One. This topical film shows the Peace Day festivities that took place in Dunedin on 19 July 1919 and was shot by Henry Gore, a prolific local filmmaker.
The festivities were embraced by the local population and the Otago Witness claimed that:
“[h]igh carnival reigned in the streets of Dunedin on Saturday afternoon. A magnificent procession, replete with gorgeous pageantry, tableaux of significant symbolism, handsomely decorated vehicles, a multitude of beautiful displays, and much of the pomp and circumstance of war provided a strikingly spectacular sight and one that has probably never before been equalled in this city, much less excelled.” Otago Witness, 23 July 1919.
While the Otago Daily Times reported:
"[i]n the morning the various church services were well attended, the mass service at the Oval at midday was listened to by a large number, and at 2 o'clock the people were streaming into the city by thousands, to line the streets and take up points of vantage to witness the procession... [which] was a magnificent success. It took nearly three-quarters of an hour to pass a given point, and allowing that it had several delays on the route, it can be calculated from this time that it must have been about two miles in length. The procession ended the day's programme, but in the evening there was another great concourse of people in the streets. The myriads of coloured electric bulbs hung in the main thoroughfares and on the adjacent buildings provided a blaze of light. The illuminations, in fact, are quite a feature of the efforts of the Peace Celebrations Committee…." "Victory and Peace", Otago Daily Times, 21 July 1919, p.5.
This is an extremely significant film as it is the only known surviving example of a topical film of local Peace Day celebrations. It includes scenes from the afternoon procession and morning memorial service that were held and also shows some of the many illuminations that decorated buildings in the city and screened as a “Special Local Picture” at the Plaza Theatre in Dunedin from 29 August to 3 September 1919 (see the Otago Daily Times, 29 August 1919, p.1 & 3 September 1919, p.1).
From notes by Chris Pugsley.