Tag Archives: Radio New Zealand

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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 This was the licensing law from December 1917 until the law was repealed in October 1967.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.

 

Happy 70th NZSO

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra turns 70 this week, marking the anniversary of its first public performance in the Wellington Town Hall, on 6 March 1947. Extensive recordings from the orchestra’s early years are held in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s sound collection, and RNZ Concert have drawn upon this archival audio to produce a series of programmes marking the event.

You can listen to them at the links below:

National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season ... 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season … 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
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Māori for Beginners

- By Alexandra Porter (Audio Conservator, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) 

Tēnā koutou katoa
Ko Alexandra Porter tōku ingoa
Nō Ingarani me Kōtarania ōku tīpuna,
I whānau mai ahau i Īnia,
Kei Ōtautahi tōku kāinga ināianei

Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa
Nō reira, he waka eke noa
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa

Born in India from English and Scottish parents, I emigrated from Ingarani (England) at the age of 20 and apart from a couple of years in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (Gisborne) and Ōtepoti  (Dunedin) have settled largely in Ōtautahi (Christchurch). I consider Aotearoa home; it is where my son was born (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu) and where I have been growing roots for the best part of 23 years. It is with a degree of embarrassment then when I admit te reo Māori had been on my list of things to do for far too long.

Fortunately my challenging but inspiring journey of te reo began in March 2016 when support from work and a window in the evening schedule allowed; challenging because my brain is not a great receptor between 6.30-8.30pm, and inspiring because it opened up te ao Māori and has served to strengthen family ties. My son continues to learn te reo at school and takes great satisfaction from correcting my whakahua (pronunciation) and testing me on my mahi kāinga (home work) which I am grateful for, as teenage years advance and the general urge to kōrero with parents can diminish.

In Ōtautahi te reo Māori and tikanga has been something I personally associated mostly with formal or bicultural occasions, scattered within extended whānau gatherings or at work, limited to the beginning and ending of email correspondence. However, one has to start somewhere, and only in daily use have I found any new language sticks. Therefore (thanks to colleague and fellow te reo student, Sarah Johnston) my workplace and home are now covered in pieces of paper to assist this slow process of neuro-linguistic embedding.

Our wonderful kaiako (teacher) and talented kaiwaiata (singer) Antoinette Koko (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu) has introduced us to a variety of traditional karakia (prayer) and waiata (song) as part of the curriculum, the latter to which I was initially resistant as singing in any capacity is not my thing. Timely choral bursts do, however, serve to expand her class’ attention span whilst lifting spirits and confidence (it’s a good trick). So when, following the end of the term last year, a friend played me The Alphabet Song from a 1972 vinyl LP produced by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation I was eager to both share and find out who else had come across it.

A recent and proud addition to his vinyl record collection, the LP titled MAORI for BEGINNERS* by Professor Biggs [1.] (LP cover featured below) was purchased from a Christchurch second-hand store for just a few dollars. The spellbinding first track immediately seized my attention as its melodious vocal pattern of letters was unique to anything I’d heard before.

 

MAORI for BEGINNERS (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1972).
MAORI for BEGINNERS (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1972).

 

Back at work a search in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s collections database revealed that we had a copy on DAT (Digital Audio Tape), taken from an LP of the same name produced in 1972 – but no original vinyl disc was present in the archive. DATs are high on all sound archive preservation agendas as the format (largely from the late 1980s-early 2000s), developed for storing and backing up data onto magnetic tape, is unfortunately rapidly deteriorating. Now however, following its digitisation, this taonga is available to listen to in its entirety on our online catalogue. Continue reading

Maori Battalion feature

Celebrating Christmas in the Desert, 1942

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Silent Night – Tapu te Po (Christmas at NZ General Hospital, 1942, ref. 17321)

 

A recording of the carol “Silent Night” or “Tapu te Po,” sung in te reo Māori and English by men of the 28th Māori Battalion in North Africa in 1942, is one of the many Christmas taonga held in the Sound collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

It is part of a series of recordings made by the National Broadcasting Service’s Mobile Recording Unit, in a New Zealand military hospital.  The men singing on the recording had been wounded in the Battle of El Alamein in October and November 1942, and were gathered together by Nurse Wiki Katene (Ngāti Toa) of Porirua, to make the recording which would be broadcast back in New Zealand at Christmas. Continue reading

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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).

Kaikoura feature

Difficult Country – Kaikoura’s Tenuous Road and Rail Links

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Morris Minor car, Kaikoura Coast Road, Hundalee Hills, Marlborough 1950. Whites Aviation Ltd. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22853922
Morris Minor car, Kaikoura Coast Road, Hundalee Hills, Marlborough 1950. Whites Aviation Ltd. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22853922

 

The hilly territory between Canterbury and Marlborough that has been badly affected by the recent earthquake, has long had a reputation as being difficult country for transport, despite its scenic beauty.  Since the early years of European settlement, residents have grappled with the steep Kaikoura coast and the rivers and hills of the “Inland Route,” as is captured in sound and film recordings held in the archives of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

In a 1950 radio interview,  Albert Creed, whose family owned North Canterbury transport company Creed and Derrett, talks about the journeys in the days of horse-drawn coaches and bullock wagons.

Mr Creed recalls the poor state of the roads in the region in his father’s time. It could take six or seven weeks by bullock wagon to cart wool bales from Hanmer to Salt Water Creek (just north of Christchurch) and the inland route from Waiau to Kaikoura was vulnerable to high winds, slips and floods on the Conway River, as many newspaper articles of the era attest.

 

Star, Issue 7257, 19 November 1901. Courtesy Papers Past.
Star, Issue 7257, 19 November 1901 (courtesy Papers Past)

 

Mr Creed began driving the mail coaches himself as a young man. When labourers from Christchurch were brought in to extend the coastal road to Kaikoura through the Hundalee Hills, he transported them as well. Mr Creed recalls fights breaking out in the back of the coach among drunken road workers who had “pre-loaded” for the trip, with some eventually falling out while he crossed a swamp. In this excerpt from his 1950 interview, he remembers how his brother nearly drowned in the Mason River while on a mail run, when the washed-out road gave way beneath his horse.

 

Interview with Albert Creed from Canterbury Pilgrimage No 23 Waiau (3YA Christchurch, 1950)

 

View of the Clarence Bridge under construction, Main Trunk Line, Marlborough. 1940. Evening Post newspaper http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120313
View of the Clarence Bridge under construction, Main Trunk Line, Marlborough. 1940. Evening Post newspaper http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120313

 

As the road links were improved through the 1930s and 1940s, the remote access meant workers had to be housed in temporary villages. You can see these,  plus the stunning but difficult terrain,  in this 1939 aerial film shot by the Ministry for Public Works.


Aerial Shots of Kaikoura Coast Road Construction (Ministry for Public Works, 1939) 

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Commercial radio feature

Happy Birthday NZ Commercial Radio!

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

 

This Saturday is the 80th anniversary of national commercial radio in New Zealand, which started with station 1ZB Auckland on 29 October 1936.  Radio had been operating in New Zealand since the 1920s, but advertising was generally not allowed and stations were mostly financed via a licence fee paid by listeners, or via sponsorship from a related business, such as a music retailer. 1ZB had been broadcasting in Auckland for several years already as a private station, owned by Methodist minister Reverend Colin Scrimgeour. 

 

Aunt Daisy (Maud Ruby Basham), a darling of NZ commercial radio (image: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).
Aunt Daisy (Maud Ruby Basham), a darling of NZ commercial radio (image: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).

 

In 1936 the first Labour government under Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage bought 1ZB and re-opened it as the first station of the government-owned National Commercial Broadcasting Service. 2ZB, 3ZB and 4ZB followed in quick succession, bringing commercial broadcasting to Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Former 1ZB owner, Rev. Scrimgeour – or “Uncle Scrim” – was appointed as head of the new service.

Announcers such as Maud Basham, the legendary “Aunt Daisy,” became firm listener favourites on the commercial network, with her chatty programme of infomercials, recipes and household hints, along with new features such as sponsored radio serials, quiz shows, hit parades, sports commentary and talent quests – all paid for by advertising. The commercial network also hired Māori broadcasters in each centre: Uramo Paora “Lou Paul” in Auckland, Kingi Tahiwi in Wellington, Te Ari Pitama and Airini Grenell in Christchurch and Dunedin.

The government soon discovered commercial radio was a great income earner. In the first year of operation, the four commercial stations made a profit of 10,000 pounds.  After World War II, income from the commercial network was used to establish the National Orchestra – later the NZSO.

The commercial network grew to include regional and provincial stations and ran side by side with the non-commercial network as part of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service (and various later incarnations such as the N.Z.B.C. and Radio New Zealand), until it was sold off by the government in 1996. The ZB stations became part of The Radio Network – and are better known today as NewstalkZB.

You can hear what 1930s commercial radio sounded like in this 1961 documentary.

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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

35 Years Ago: Springbok Tour Protests in Wellington

On July 29,  in Wellington, 2,000 protesters opposing the Springbok Tour were confronted by police who used batons to stop them marching up Molesworth St to the home of South Africa’s ambassador in Wadestown. This was the first use of batons against protestors and the violence horrified many people. There were no mobile phones in 1981, so reporters couldn’t provide live coverage from the middle of a march, but RNZ reporters Lindy Fleming and James Weir were there and reported back in the studio on what they saw and captured with their tape recorders.

 

Report on Wellington Protests (29 July 1981)

 

Karen Brough, injured during an anti Springbok rugby tour demonstration in Wellington - Photograph taken by Ian Mackley. Dominion post (Newspaper) : Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1981/2623/21-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22860506
Karen Brough, injured during an anti Springbok rugby tour demonstration in Wellington – Photograph taken by Ian Mackley. Dominion post (Newspaper) : Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1981/2623/21-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22860506

You can listen to the Molesworth Street action and other 1981 anti-Tour protests from around the country, in a compilation of radio coverage here.

Learn more about radio coverage of the Springbok Tour here.

Protesters in Hamilton during a demonstration against the 1981 Springbok tour - Photograph taken by Phil Reid. Dominion post (Newspaper) : Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1981/2599/3-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22551319

Covering the Tour

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Thirty-five years ago this week we were in the middle of New Zealand’s “winter of discontent,” with the country embroiled in the 1981 Springbok Tour. Protests took place all over the country,  with many families divided between rugby fans – who thought sports should not be concerned with political issues – and those who felt New Zealand should be joining the international boycott and cutting all sporting ties with apartheid-era South Africa.

Radio New Zealand news and sports reporters were in the thick of it, as the conflict between police, protestors and rugby fans became more and more heated. You can hear me talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about some of the archived sound recordings from those turbulent times held in the radio collection at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, or read more and find links to the recordings below.

Protestors and police officers at Rugby Park, Hamilton - Photograph taken by Phil Reid. Dominion post (Newspaper) : Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1981/2596/10-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23098586
Protestors and police officers at Rugby Park, Hamilton – Photograph taken by Phil Reid. Dominion post (Newspaper) : Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1981/2596/10-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23098586

 

In the tour opener at Gisborne, anti-tour protesters had managed to break through a perimeter fence but were prevented from occupying the field and disrupting the match. Three days later, at Rugby Park in Hamilton on July 25,  Waikato prepared to take on the Springboks. Over 500 police officers were present in the city but the protest planners had also been busy, buying more than 200 tickets for the game to ensure that protesters could make their presence known. As it was a Saturday, more people were able to protest, and around 5,000 gathered to march on Rugby Park. Shortly before kick-off, RNZ’s sports commentators, the late Graeme Moody and John Howson found themselves covering the action as protestors broke down the fence and made their way onto the field.

 

Report on Protests at Rugby Park (25 July 1981) 

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