Category Archives: Television

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

And what happened to all that old money …


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


“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.


Summer with Gregg’s Coffee

It is lovely to see some long-awaited sunshine in Wellington this morning! In the spirit of summer, we thought we’d share this 1970 TV advertisement filmed at Wellington’s Oriental Bay with you.

Gregg’s Coffee – Different Faces (Pacific Films, 1970)

This advertisement was part of a wider “Different Faces” series of ads promoting Gregg’s coffee, which all present an idyllic picture of a New Zealand characterised by racial and generational diversity. A range of people enjoy the outdoors – having fun on the sand, in the water, in a park, and on a yacht. You can watch another ad in the “Different Faces” series here.

It 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 website.

Young Hercules

By Zak Reddan (Ngā Taonga Cataloguer / Researcher)

Did you know Young Hercules, the title character in the 1998-99 TV series filmed in New Zealand, was played by a teenaged Ryan Gosling?

The US series was the second spin-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-9), following Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001).

In scripted banter with his The Nice Guys (2016) co-star Russell Crowe at the 4th Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, Gosling referred to his time here: “I lived in New Zealand for, like, two years. I’m sweet as, bro.”

Young Canadian Ryan Gosling in Young Hercules. Image: (Image: Wikipedia).
Young Canadian Ryan Gosling in Young Hercules. Image: Wikipedia.

Pity he grows up to be Kevin Sorbo.

Some episodes of Young Hercules are available for viewing in our Wellington medialibrary (see Episode 44 – Home for The Holidays and Episode 46 – Herc’s Nemesis).


International Business Times, “Ryan Gosling Mistakes New Zealand For Australia In Hilarious AACTA Awards Skit with Russell Crowe,” 30 January 2015.


Spring – The Uncertain Season

What does the coming of spring call to mind for you? For Shirley Maddock, the filmmaker behind The Uncertain Season (1962), a pictorial essay made during the first years of television in New Zealand, spring brings a range of pleasures, including:

Fluffy chicks:

“The Uncertain Season” (Shirley Maddock, 1962)


The release of new season’s fashions:

"The Uncertain Season" (Shirley Maddock, 1962)
“The Uncertain Season” (Shirley Maddock, 1962)

Continue reading

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: Angela Bloomfield

Following the recent split with her real-life partner Chris, actress Angela Bloomfield talks about how the television soap Shortland Street can sometimes mirror reality (Real Life with John Cowan, 23 August 2015).

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact


Listen to the full interview here.


This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently during 2015.

Te Matatini 2015

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision staff, Te Iwa Tamaki (Kairokiroki: Irirangi Māori Archivist),  Tania Loughlin (Kaiwhakarite – Client Services Administrator), Camilla Wheeler (Project Cataloguer/Researcher), and Sarah Johnston (Client Services Co-ordinator – Radio) are having a great time sharing sound and moving image taonga at Te Matatini, Ōtautahi.



Matatini1 Continue reading

Ice Cream and the Great Kiwi Summer

 - By Ellen Pullar, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Communications Advisor

It has been a cracker of a summer so far! If you’re anything like us you’ll have been flocking to the corner dairy or soft serve truck for icy treats to stay cool (conveniently there are two dairies and a gelato stall on Taranaki St, on the same block as Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Wellington, but I digress…). Ice cream has been a quintessential part of the kiwi summer for generations — it’s up there with jandals and stubbies. And, did you know, according to the wise and wonderful Aunt Daisy, it’s good for your health?

A few items from the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collections that document our nation’s longstanding adoration of ice cream follow.

A Sporting Topical (1928) 


This newsreel was made by Lawrie Inkster. The Greymouth-based Lawrie Inkster and his wife Hilda were prolific makers of home movies and newsreels. Their films document family and social life, leisure activities and public events in the region during the 1920s through the 1940s, with much warmth and energy. Here we see a group of young women, smartly dressed in the flapper style then current (including cloche hats and stylish headbands) perched on a sand dune, enjoying their ice creams. Continue reading