All great fun

1950s Tourist and Publicity Department skiing poster (click for image credit)

1950s Tourist and Publicity Department skiing poster (click for image credit)

Today we are delighted to launch Te Ara’s second-to-last major section – 102 sparkling new entries which fall under the title of Daily Life, Sport and Recreation.

Despite the three-part title, this is really a theme of two halves. Almost half the entries describe New Zealanders’ passion for sport. One section deals with particular sporting codes, from archery and fencing to waka ama. Anything you wanted to know about our past champions, our successes and a few of our collective failures can be found here. There is also another part which looks at different facets of New Zealand sport as a whole, covering such subjects as disabled sport, sports medicine and drugs and veterans sport.

The other half of the theme examines the fabric of our daily life, the elements which surround us all the time – the food and drink we consume, the clothes we wear, the homes we inhabit, the words we use, the way we occupy our spare time and enjoy our holidays, weekends and celebrations – when we are not watching or playing sport! There is much here that is familiar, but also surprising aspects which unfold from our history – you can find out when beards disappeared, and then returned. Did you know that until the 1960s each Kiwi used to consume more than five times as much tea as they do today? On the other hand, we drink over 20 times as much coffee as our 1890s ancestors.

There are striking differences between the two halves of the theme. The Daily Life section tends to give more attention to women’s traditional sphere – to housework and domestic recreations like sewing and knitting. Sport inevitably gives plenty of attention to men, although there are outstanding entries on netball and good coverage of women’s significant successes in athletics, rowing and triathlon, with another entry exploring gender and sport. And Daily Life uncovers some surprising gender switches – there is a wonderful image of the dance of the shearers (all male) in the Dancing entry.

There was a logic to putting daily life together with sport – for both are about time out from paid work (until professional sport came along of course!). They are about the eating, drinking, socialising, watching-games parts of life – the fun parts. There is plenty of humour and warm nostalgia in these entries. They were a delight to prepare, and this shows in the outstanding work of the writers, resourcers, designers and editors who are responsible for them. The office vibrated with gales of laughter as we chose film clips or explored old photos and advertisements. There are even two entries on humour – Māori and Pākehā.

So we hope that you will find this new section of Te Ara as much fun as we did, that you too will chuckle as you read the entries – and learn some interesting things along the way. Enjoy!

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