Tag Archives: 1960s

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The last days of the ‘6 o’clock swill’

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

White family play with toys
Vote 6 o’clock closing! It means fewer bad debts, more money for family comforts, happier home life. [1948-1949].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-03. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22558587
 

New Zealand’s infamous hour of binge-drinking,  known as the ‘6 o’clock swill’, finally came to an end 50 years ago this October.

Recordings held in the sound archives of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision tell us more about this unique approach to alcohol licensing,  which was introduced during World War I  - but endured for a further 50 years. You can hear Sarah Johnston talk to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about these recordings,  or read more and find links to the full recordings below.

The ’6 o’clock swill’ was the common name for the hour in which most New Zealand workers had to fit in all their drinking,  between finishing work at 5pm and the pub doors closing at 6pm. This was the licensing law from December 1917 until the law was repealed in October 1967. It meant crowded, noisy bars full of (mostly) men, hurrying to get as many beers in as they could,  before “Time please, gentlemen!” was called at 5.45 and they were turned out onto the street at 6pm sharp.

The law forcing hotels to stop serving alcohol at 6pm was introduced during World War I. There was a strong Temperance movement in New Zealand from the late 19th century onwards, with many people – especially women, pushing for total prohibition on the sale of alcohol, after seeing the effect unregulated drinking had on colonial society.

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Auckland Observer, 23 June 1917 (courtesy Papers Past)

Several Prohibition referendums were held and came very close to passing. Campaigners cited ‘the war effort’ as yet another reason why alcohol sales should be limited, arguing that sober workers would be able to produce more and concentrate the country’s energies on winning the conflict.  The move to introduce 6 o’clock closing for bars in 1917 was a compromise by the government, to appease the groups pushing for Prohibition, but not shut down the liquor industry altogether.

Soldiers returning from the war however, were not impressed to see what had been done to drinking laws in their absence, as veteran Jack Archibald of Nelson recalled this excerpt from a radio interview.

Excerpt from J. Archibald on resettlement in New Zealand after World War I 1966. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID 238019

But the war-time measure became permanent and enjoyed some degree of popularity, remaining largely unchallenged through the 1920s, the Depression and World War II.  A referendum on whether to abolish early closing was held in 1949 – but nearly two-thirds of voters voted to keep 6 o’clock closing in place. Those in favour argued that it meant men went home to their families after work, rather than spending their time – and their family’s income – in hotels, as these advertisements from the referendum campaign illustrate.

Happiness depends on the home! Help preserve family harmony. Vote 6 o'clock closing. [ca 1948].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23085171
Happiness depends on the home! Help preserve family harmony. Vote 6 o’clock closing. [ca 1948].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23085171
 

But in the 1950s, opinion began to sway.  A radio documentary from 1958 in our archives, attempted a broad survey of New Zealand public opinion on liquor licensing laws and whether 6 o’clock closing should remain. It contains “vox pops” (short, opinionated sound-bites) from all over the country, which show the wide range of views – from religious people who believed all alcohol was a sin, to the man at the start of this excerpt who says the 6 o’clock closing regime is “keeping New Zealand in the Dark Ages.”

Excerpt from The Licensing Laws: a survey of public opinion, 1958. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID37548 (You can listen to the full 30-minute programme at the link)

Many New Zealanders in the documentary express concern about the high level of drunkenness among bar patrons who are forced out onto the street when pub doors shut at 6pm, after drinking as much as they can in a short space of time.  They talk of a desire for more leisurely drinking – and for hotels to be a more pleasant environment where “a man can take his wife” – the jostling, beer-soaked ‘6 o’clock swill’ being seen as no place for a woman!

By the late 1950s New Zealand was becoming more cosmopolitan, with post-war migrants arriving from places like The Netherlands with a far more relaxed approach to alcohol. Restaurants were becoming more common and interviewees in the programme ask why they should not be able to enjoy a glass of wine with their meal?  Overseas tourists too were increasing in numbers – and presumably were baffled by our strange regulations around drinking.

The pressure for reform continued into the 1960s.  The start of jet air travel meant more tourism and more Kiwis now experiencing drinking cultures overseas. Popular singer-songwriter and satirist Rod Derrett recorded some biting social commentary with his song “The 6 o’Clock Swill”, which was on the B-side of his best-selling EP “Rugby, Racing and Beer.”

Excerpt from ‘6 O’Clock Swill’ – from Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077

The song ends with the words:

“Kiwis won’t alter their habits until
We throw out New Zealand’s completely chaotic,
Antiquated, barbaric
Six o’clock swill!”

This condemnation of the licensing laws was apparently too vociferous and political for the Broadcasting Corporation of the day, who banned this track from being played on the radio.  The original copy we hold in our sound archives has “Banned” and “Prohibited” stamped across the cover – and the disc itself has been scratched and scored with a yellow chinagraph pencil, just in case any rebel announcer was tempted to try and play the offensive song!(Fortunately, we also acquired an undamaged copy.)

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Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070 – showing ‘PROHIBITED’ stamp and yellow scoring and deliberate scratching to prevent playing the track “6 O’Clock Swill.”  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077
Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070 – showing ‘PROHIBITED’ stamp and yellow scoring and deliberate scratching to prevent playing the track “6 O’Clock Swill.”  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077

Two years after this song was released another referendum was held, in September 1967.  This time the majority vote was to extend licensing hours until 10pm and the 6 o’clock swill passed into the history books.

 

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
KIWI SA60

And what happened to all that old money …

AhiparaFeature

Solving a Mystery: The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade

- By Lawrence Wharerau (Kaiwhakataki: Programme Coordinator, Māori, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

I have an affinity with Northland – I love the bush, the people and the sea too, and it’s not just because I’m from down them ways. One of my favourite places on earth is Ahipara, by the sea at the southern end of Te Oneroa a Tohe aka Ninety Mile Beach and sheltered by the Tauroa Peninsular to the west. The Herekino Forest has its eastern flank and it is 14kms northeast to Kaitaia, with Pukepoto in between. Shipwreck and Ahipara Bays are famous surf spots and they were once popular places for gathering toheroa.

Some years ago (as in over 15 years ago), I was going through the film collection at The Film Archive (as Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was then known), when I came across an amateur film called Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade, circa 1955, which piqued my interest. I had never heard of this brigade and initial enquiries gave little evidence about what they were about nor who these women were. At the time I was curating for a ten marae screening tour of Northland for the project Te Hokinga Mai o Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua ki Ngāpuhi.

The Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.
The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. (Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.)

The seven-minute film starts with a wide shot overlooking Ahipara from the top of Whangatauatia Mountain, which dominates the environs to the south of the seaside village and is the gateway to the Ahipara gumfields. Then it shows several of the brigade members going about normal domestic duties: hanging washing, ironing, gardening, and the like. Cut to a rubbish pile on fire, a call is made to the local fire station, the klaxon fire alarm is activated, and then it’s all on. It’s down tools and aprons and a mad rush to ready the fire tenders, a Land Rover with trailer and a flat-bed truck, packing the required equipment, and heading off to the incident. Hoses are run out and the fire is attended to with a crowd looking on.

Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).
Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).

You can watch the film on our online catalogue, here

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WaitangiDayFeature

Historic Radio Reflections on Waitangi Day Through the Decades

To mark Waitangi Day we have uploaded some historic radio coverage of our national day to our online collections catalogue.

View of the verandah of the Treaty house, Waitangi, New Zealand, looking east across the grounds and including the meeting house. Photographed by Whites Aviation in 1947. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23157208
View of the verandah of the Treaty house, Waitangi, New Zealand, looking east across the grounds and including the meeting house. Photographed by Whites Aviation in 1947. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23157208 

 

You can listen to our Client Services Co-ordinator Sarah Johnston talking about the 1963 celebrations at Waitangi with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan here. That year was marked by the presence of Her Majesty the Queen (who landed at Waitangi for her second tour of New Zealand on 6 February) and by a speech by Sir Turi Carroll (Ngāti Kahungunu), President of the New Zealand Māori Council, calling on the government to recognise the Treaty in law and make the day a public holiday – it didn’t become a public holiday until 1974.

The first protests at Waitangi can be heard in New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation radio recordings made at the 1971 commemorations. That year, the newly-formed action group Ngā Tamatoa appeared at the Treaty Grounds, and gave voice to the concerns of a younger generation of Māori. Two Māori radio programmes and two documentaries about the 1971 protests can all be heard here, on our online catalogue.

Ngā Tamatoa’s actions meant the media was forced to examine Māori grievances around the Treaty more closely and radio programmes like these represent the start of greater consideration by the national broadcaster about the Treaty and its implications for modern-day New Zealand.

Prior to this, there is not a lot of archived coverage of Waitangi Day itself – and what there is seems to strongly focus on the 1840 Treaty signing as an historic event, something that belonged in our past. 

One outstanding exception to this was Sir Apirana Ngata’s famous speech at the 1940 Treaty Centennial celebrations, in which he clearly told Pākēha about ongoing Māori concerns at the way the Treaty had been disregarded in the intervening 100 years.

Photograph of Apirana Ngata taking the lead in a haka on Waitangi Day at the centennial celebrations at Waitangi, taken by Bert Snowden  http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22311984
Photograph of Apirana Ngata taking the lead in a haka on Waitangi Day at the centennial celebrations at Waitangi, taken by Bert Snowden http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22311984

 

HildaMyNatureDiary crop

Hilda Brodie Smith

Hilda Brodie Smith, of Porirua, wrote, directed and starred in a number of rather incredible documentaries during the 1960s. Her work was so distinctive and professional that she regularly won prizes in cine club competitions.

Hilda’s films have recently been restored by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, and film conservator Richard Faulkner talks about the process in this feature by Radio New Zealand.

12 of the newly preserved films can be watched on our online catalogue, here.

 

Feature image: Hilda Brodie Smith, My Nature Diary (1965).

USPresidentsFeature

US Presidents – The Kiwi Connection

With the results from the United States presidential election due to start coming in later today, we thought it a good time to take a look back at New Zealand’s previous Presidential encounters, as they have been captured in recordings held in the Sound Collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

American President Lyndon Baines Johnson shaking the hand of Clem Thorn, aged five years, while he sits on his father's shoulders amongst the crowd at Wellington Airport. Photographed by an Evening Post staff photographer on the 20th of October 1966. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23083703
American President Lyndon Baines Johnson shaking the hand of Clem Thorn, aged five years, while he sits on his father’s shoulders amongst the crowd at Wellington Airport. Dominion Post (Newspaper) : Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1966/4545-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23083703

 

The first visit to our shores by an incumbent US leader was by Lyndon Johnson in 1966. He came to office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963. That event shocked the world – and most New Zealanders who were alive at the time can probably still remember where they were when the news broke. Here is New Zealand’s Prime Minister at the time, Keith Holyoake, addressing the country on the tragedy:

 

New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation recording of Keith Holyoake (November 1963)

 

After the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in , and he paid New Zealand flying visit in 1966, primarily to shore up our support for the increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam.

It was a whirlwind 24 hour visit to Wellington, with a welcome at the airport, a motorcade through the capital and an official lunch at Parliament, while Mrs Johnson toured Wellington’s Botanic Gardens and Cable Car. Continue reading

Serpentine

Moving Pictures Arrive in New Zealand

120 years ago, on 13 October 1896, New Zealanders first got their chance to see moving pictures, when the first film was played to an audience at the Opera House in Auckland. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is marking this anniversary with a series of screenings of a selection of Films that Shaped New Zealand in Wellington over the next 10 days – and we will be preceding each of these screenings by showing either Sandow the Strong Man or The Serpentine Dance before each feature. These were two of the first films ever watched by New Zealand audiences back in 1896.

 

Eugen Sandow in the film Sandow the Strongman (Edison Studios, 1894, directed by William K.L. Dickson).

 

The inaugural screening of moving pictures in New Zealand was as part of a vaudeville programme by Charles Godfrey’s Vaudeville Company.  The “kinematograph” screenings were part of the show’s line-up, along with singers and musical items. After the first performances in Auckland, the show moved to Thames, Paeroa and Wellington later in October 1896, before further screenings in Christchurch and Dunedin in November that year.

 

A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, "New Zealand Herald," 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)
A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, “New Zealand Herald,” 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)

 

Annabelle Whitford in the film The Serpentine Dance (Edison Manufacturing Co., 1895, directed by William K.L. Dickson and William Heise)

 

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Feature

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:

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)

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Audio Curios: Children Will Listen

- By Gareth Watkins (Radio Collection Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has recently acquired a set of Insight documentaries, spanning 1997-2000, deposited  by Adriann Smith, a former Radio New Zealand producer. Insight is now the longest-running documentary programme on RNZ, having started back in the late 1960s. Gavin McGinley, RNZ National scheduler, recalls:

“As I remember, the National programme used to have a documentary on Sunday mornings in the 1960s. Most of the time they were BBC programmes with the occasional one from the ABC, CBC or SABC. Then I think they began to alternate – one homegrown documentary, one overseas. The first time I remember Insight being used as a series title was about the time I moved to 2ZD Masterton in 1969. And for the next few years the programme was known as Insight ‘69, Insight ‘70, Insight ‘71, etc.”

Adriann’s documentaries from the late 1990s cover a diverse range of subject matter – from revamping the public service to body image.

One that caught my eye from 1997 was “Culture and Cool” – young people speak about cultural change and the influence of mass media on cultural ideas. In this edited excerpt, students from Rongotai College in Wellington talk about how music influences fashion and how media influences language.

 

Insight ’97, “Culture and Cool” (Radio New Zealand) Continue reading

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Audio Curios: Notes of Appreciation

- By Gareth Watkins (Radio Collection Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Recently Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision acquired a set of very special discs from violinist Vince Aspey. The discs not only give a glimpse into Vince’s and his father Vincent Aspey’s distinguished musical careers, they also capture some of the early moments of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra – back then known as the National Orchestra.

Six years before the National Orchestra’s formation in 1946, an orchestra had been established for the nation’s centennial celebrations. In this recording from 1940, the legendary British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham  – passing through Auckland on his way to Sydney – introduces and then conducts the Centennial Festival Orchestra and Heddle Nash and Isobel Baillie in the garden scene from Faust.

 

Sir Thomas Beecham (1940, National Broadcasting Service)

 

It wasn’t until after the war that a permanent national orchestra was established. Andersen Tyrer was appointed conductor and Vincent Aspey orchestra leader.  As noted on NZ History Aspey had never heard a major orchestra play, but his experience leading orchestras in Auckland, Sydney and Wellington made him an obvious choice for leader.

 

Vincent Aspey playing the violin, Wellington Town Hall [1955]. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-146976-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22914998
Vincent Aspey playing the violin, Wellington Town Hall [1955]. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-146976-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22914998
 

During those early orchestral rehearsals in 1946, Vincent Aspey’s son Vince recalls standing in the control room at the Waring Taylor Street studios watching his father perform. From one of those first rehearsals comes this recording of soloist Vincent Aspey and the National Orchestra.

 

Vincent Aspey and the National Orchestra in rehearsal (1946)

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