Housing in New Zealand

Short Film, 1946 (Full Length)

This 1946 film surveys New Zealand housing: from settler huts to Ernest Plischke’s modernist flats. Architect William Page bemoans sun-spurning Victorian slums with their unneeded “elaboration”. But more fretful than fretwork is a housing crisis that sees 26,000 families needing homes, with owning or renting out of reach of many. Michael Savage’s pioneering (but war-stalled) state housing scheme and newly-planned suburbs offer hope. Fed by wood and cement, NZ can build again with brio: “For a home is the basis of the simple things that make victory worthwhile.”

The City And The Suburb (part one)

Television, 1983 (Full Length)

In this two-part Lookout documentary from 1983, critic Hamish Keith explores how New Zealanders have housed themselves over the 20th Century. This first part builds to 1935: it begins in Auckland War Memorial Museum, with Keith asking how Kiwis would represent themselves if they were curators in the future. He presents the state house as the paramount Kiwi icon, and examines the journey from Victorian slums and Queen Street sewers to villas, bungalows and suburbia; plus the impact on housing of cars, consumerism, influenza, war, depression, and new ideas in town planning.

The Years Back - 3, The Thirties (Episode Three)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

Bernard Kearns presents a survey of NZ life in the 30s in this episode of the National Film Unit series The Years Back (“people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today”). The documentary includes a wealth of footage taken from NFU stock: the aftermath of the 1931 Napier earthquake, the Depression (as Kearns bluntly states, “there was a lot of misery in the 30s”), and runner Jack Lovelock’s gold medal triumph at the Berlin Olympics. There’s also editorial flair as King George VI’s lavish coronation ceremony is juxtaposed with the A&P show back home.

Sedition

Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Sedition - The Suppression of Dissent in World War II New Zealand chronicles the experiences of Kiwi pacifists during wartime. New laws affecting meetings, mail and media coverage meant that talking about pacifism could result in arrest, and imprisonment. By June 1940, holding more than one copy of a 'subversive' magazine could mean nine months hard labour. Ironically many of the MPs backing the laws had earlier been imprisoned for their anti-war beliefs; while Christian Pacifist Society leader Ormond Burton was twice decorated for bravery during World War I.  

The City And The Suburb (part two)

Television, 1983 (Full Length)

This 1983 Hamish Keith-presented documentary is subtitled 'Housing New Zealand in the Twentieth Century'. Part two picks up from Michael Joseph Savage’s 1930s state housing scheme. Keith argues that as the emphasis shifted from renting to owning, middle class suburbia became the foundation of Kiwi postwar aspirations. He looks at changing demographics in the cities — as home owners fled on newly built motorways — and argues that the suburban ideal has become bland and out of reach, as New Zealand once again becomes a country of “mean streets and mansions”.

Real Lives - Ponsonby Road

Television, 1988 (Full Length Episode)

This 1988 TVNZ documentary looks at Ponsonby through the eyes of some of its oldest identities. It's a pivotal time in the Auckland suburb's evolution from working class preserve to upmarket retail destination and residential area. Gentrification is taking hold, as older residents move on or are forced out by rising property prices. But there are still traces of the old Ponsonby to be seen in the fabled Gluepot tavern, op shops, drop-in centres and a dizzying array of eateries — and there are memories of when Michael Joseph Savage was the local MP.

Pounamu - Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana

Television, 1990 (Full Length)

The series Pounamu focused on the lives and deeds of Māori who played vital roles in the history of Aotearoa, including Te Kooti, Te Puea, Te Whiti, Āpirana Ngata, Guide Rangi and others. Made by the Māori Programmes Department of TVNZ, this episode features a re-enactment of part of the life of Prophet Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana (1873 - 1939). Ratana was a key influence in Māori politics and religion. For years virtually all Māori MPs were followers of the Ratana faith and supported the Labour Party on his instruction. The influence of Rātana remains strong.