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This 1948 documentary follows 24 hours of work on the railways. It was directed for the National Film Unit by New Zealand’s first female film director, Margaret Thomson. It shows the engines and commuter trains preparing to leave Wellington, and the overnight train arriving from Auckland. Workers toil on the railway lines above the remote Waimakariri Gorge, and the town of Otira gets ready for a dance. The final shots are of an engine coming through the dawn and back to the city.

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Comments (9)

 Ross Simpson

Ross Simpson

Hullo! Viewing this from Norway. My father from Invercargill worked for NZR from age 22 to 60, retiring in 1960, generally based at Linwood loco and thrusting mighty locomotives to Arthurs Pass, North Canterbury, Little River etc, and goods trains to Lyttelton. I recall him filling out his timesheets at home ... yes, in his own time. Last year in Sweden on a bullet-nose gleaming space missile of an intercity train I spoke to the driver at a station platform, he apologising for a patch of dirt on the nose of his capsule. I wondered how my father, covered in soot, greasy cap, hands stained, butt in mouth, would have considered this situation.

 Trevor Ayson

Trevor Ayson

Interesting. Sounds like Selwyn Toogood narrating. My parents travelled on trains in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, although my mum has told me she was glad to see the back of steam trains (ie when they were withdrawn from service) because the soot and steam made train stations dirty places!

 Glenn Wickert

Glenn Wickert

I'm a Loco Engineer myself, but my days are nowehere near as hard as these guys had it way back then!



As an ex footplate person I recall all of this, we were a fit lot in those days...the Wab class at the start of this film was really special, these were great locomotives...

 Gordon Bibby

Gordon Bibby

Very nostalgic, I remember seeing this NZNFU short in a picture theatre when I was much younger, also travelled the main trunk many times when steam was king. Thankyou.

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Collections.   See all collections ›  

Included in:

 Labour Day Collection
 National Film Unit Collection


In the goods depots the day's work takes a different tempo. It's broad daylight before the loading begins. Thousands of wagons a year, millions of tons of goods. 
Railway people speak of their jobs with a certain reserve of pride. No matter how small or obscure their individual work may be, they have the satisfaction of knowing that the community can't get on without them and that they in turn have a responsibility to the community.