Archive for the 'Janine Faulknor' Category

The evolution of television

Glued to the goggle-box – a 2006 cartoon (click for image credit)

Glued to the goggle-box – a 2006 cartoon (click for image credit)

Yesterday I bought a cable to connect my computer to the television. Now I’ll be able to stream TV programmes on demand, and watch them on the big (well, 30-inch) screen. This isn’t new, but if you read my blog about going digital, you’ll know it takes a while for me to catch up.

It got me thinking about how much television viewing has changed since it was introduced more than 50 years ago.

Auckland was the first region to get television, in June 1960. The service began just one day a week, but by July had increased to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and to five weekday broadcasts in October. Services to Christchurch and Wellington started in 1961, with Dunedin following in 1962.

Schedules published in the NZ Listener in June 1960 for NZBS TV Channel Two Auckland record that a selection of British and American programmes  (opening with The adventures of Robin Hood) were broadcast in a two-hour slot from 7.30 p.m. Closedown was at 9.30 p.m! The line-up was interspersed with a couple of short studio items.  On opening night Studio Two featured the Howard Morrison Quartet, and on another night was ‘a musical interlude by Pat McMinn and the Crombie Murdoch Trio’.

News was flown in from the British Commonwealth International Newsfilm Agency (Visnews). Most other programmes were also imported, and as a Listener article reported, ‘A balance has also been struck between their places of origin. Nobody will be forced to listen to, say, American voices all night.’

However, Kiwi voices and local content were scarce in the early days of television. Māori programme content was even rarer, as Tainui Stephens outlines in the Māori and television – whakaata entry. Programmes featuring Māori were generally limited to light entertainment or were made from a Pākehā perspective. The establishment of a Maori Production Unit in TVNZ helped to change this with the production of series such Koha, Waka huia and Te karere in the 1980s.

There was a significant rise in the production of local content in the early 1990s, likely a result of the establishment of the television funding body NZ On Air in 1989. This was a time that local documentaries made by independent production companies flourished. The setting up of a third television channel  – TV3 – also provided an outlet for more local programmes and for competition.

In the Television entry, Trisha Dunleavy outlines the history of various genres of television, including our enjoyment of rural programmes such as our longest-running series, Country calendar.  She also describes three main eras of New Zealand television history – scarcity, availability and plenty.

That brings me back to the digital plenty now accessible to me through multiple platforms such as streaming from the internet. We are a small island nation, and personally I enjoy looking outward to what the rest of the world offers. Equally, I love to hear our voices on screen and to experience New Zealanders’ unique stories and perspectives.

This month Te Ara is highlighting its entries about television. I hope you enjoy reading about its history in New Zealand, marvel at how far it has come, and perhaps wonder how you’d like it to develop.

PS I would like to acknowledge Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision for collecting, preserving and making accessible our television history; also NZ On Screen for showcasing it.

Good on you, Mum!

Kākāpō mum Alice with her chick (click for image credit)

Kākāpō mum Alice with her chick (click for image credit)

We’re bombarded for weeks leading up to the second Sunday in May with reminders that we need to go out and spend money on specially branded giftware and greeting cards to honour our mothers. My Presbyterian family considered this a purely commercial and irreligious festivity and paid it no attention.

Or is that quite true?

There’s no doubt that we were aware of the day, and perhaps we took Mum a cup of tea in bed. Most of us do honour our mothers and their gift to us of life and its consequences. But does Mother’s Day  have any special significance in the New Zealand context?

Te Ara staff have done some digging. Thanks to Marguerite Hill for the Papers Past research and to Caren Wilton and Janine Faulknor for the Te Ara links.

According to Wikipedia, Mother’s Day began in the US in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother, who had died in 1905. Jarvis had been campaigning for a holiday to be created to recognise mothers. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday a century ago, in 1914.
(Mothering Sunday, on the other hand, is very very old and held on the fourth Sunday of Lent.) Apparently Jarvis was unhappy about the commercialisation. She wanted things to be more altruistic and meaningful. Oh well.

It was reported in New Zealand that white flowers were emblematic of Mother’s Day, and children were encouraged to wear them as a token. The earliest reference to the celebration of the day in New Zealand is in the Otago Daily Times in 1908. In 1909 the American holiday was explained to New Zealanders. It seems that the idea of marking the day in New Zealand came about in 1910 and that the YMCA and Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) were big supporters.

The Wairarapa Daily News wrote about Mother’s Day at the YMCA in 1917:

The general idea of Mother’s Day is a world-wide emphasis of the love and reverence men, women and children owe to a good mother. The special object is to honour and uplift motherhood and to give comfort and happiness to “the best mother that ever lived—your mother”. How the members of the Y.M.C.A. are asked to observe Mother’s Day— By a loving remembrance of mother (or her memory), through some distinct act of kindness, some tribute - or a letter. By living the day as your mother would have you live it. By having her as your guest of honour. By going back home and giving her pleasure. By writing (if away from home) a loving letter of praise and gratitude. By wearing a white flower in the buttonhole. By attending the Mother’s Day tea. at 5 o’clock on Sunday, and bringing “mother” as guest.

We also found an account of a Mother’s Day rally in 1934, and in 1944 it was reported that troops would remember Mother’s Day.

Here are some mother-themed links from Te Ara as our tribute to Mother’s Day:

League of Mothers display, early 1960s

Māori woman breastfeeding, 1840s

Jacqueline Fahey, ‘Mother and daughter quarrelling’

Plunket mums painting the Strathmore rooms, just down the road from Caren

Working mothers

Lady Glasgow sets up a Mothers’ Union, 1893

Mothers’ Union procession, 1930s

Mothers and babies in prison

Māori nurse with mum and twins

Lesbian mums and son

Babies born to unmarried mums and likely to be adopted out

Caren’s favourite mum pic ever, kākāpō mum Alice with her chick – awwwwwwwwww.

Mother juggling jobs

Mothercraft class!

Mother working on holiday

Good on you, Mums of New Zealand. You’re a diverse and hard-working lot! Enjoy that cup of tea in bed.

New Zealand’s going gone digital

Minister of Broadcasting Craig Foss (left) switches off analogue television, watched by Peter Best from Kordia (right) and Seymour (behind), the Going Digital mascot

Minister of Broadcasting Craig Foss (left) switches off analogue television, watched by Peter Best from Kordia (right) and Seymour (behind), the Going Digital mascot

The day I ditched the bunny ears aerial and went digital was a happy one for the television lover that I am! After shifting to a house that didn’t have a connected roof aerial I’d had the bunny ears for longer than I care to admit. I’d started to feel like Fred Dagg in this clip, jumping off the couch to adjust the aerial each time I wanted to change channels and viewing my favourite programmes through a fog. So when I finally got a UHF aerial installed I couldn’t believe the clarity of the picture and range of channels under my newly remote control.

On Sunday the upper North Island went digital, concluding New Zealand’s migration from analogue television. It began when Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast went digital in September 2012, with the rest of New Zealand following in stages. The purpose of ending analogue TV was to free up radio spectrum for next generation mobile phone and broadband services and to keep New Zealand up with international technology trends. For viewers, digital TV offers more channels, better pictures and new services such as onscreen programme guides and audio description for the vision-impaired.

In the early hours of Sunday morning Minister of Broadcasting Craig Foss switched off analogue transmitters at Waiatarua (the site that has served the majority of Auckland analogue viewers for over 50 years), marking this major milestone in our country’s television history.

Television has been part of our lives in New Zealand for more than 50 years now. After a period of experimentation, it was introduced in 1960. It began as separate channels in the four main centres – Auckland followed by Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin. A single national channel was established in 1969. With only one channel we all watched the same programmes, and no ability to pause, record or download the programmes to watch them later meant viewing was a communal activity.

Growing up, life in Wainuiomata in the 1960s and 70s seemed far removed from the overseas programmes that dominated the schedules, but over the years we enjoyed seeing more and more of ourselves reflected on screen. Local TV created iconic characters such as Lynn of Tawa, and expressions such as ‘Jeez, Wayne!‘ became part of the lingo for a while.

Everything looked so much better in colour when it arrived in 1973. The live broadcast of Princess Anne’s wedding to Captain Mark Phillips in November that year drew a crowd to our neighbour’s place, as they were the first in the street to have a colour TV. We celebrated in a most sophisticated style – with cheese and pineapple porcupines and prawn cocktails.

The 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch motivated the move to colour transmission. I’ll never forget the excitement of seeing Dick Tayler collapse in elated exhaustion after winning gold in the 10,000 metres, though our family (like most at the time) watched the games on our old black and white set.

Buying a 26-inch colour television in 1975 cost the equivalent of about $8,000 today, so it took a while for most people to transition from black and white. ‘We’ve got a colour TV,’ was regularly touted to me as a babysitter in the late 70s. This was indeed a draw card, but didn’t make up for the lonely period waiting for the partygoers to return after television shutdown for the night.

Here at Te Ara we’re busy preparing our entry on television, for our upcoming Creative and Intellectual Life theme, which will fill you in on the story of what remains New Zealand’s most popular leisure activity.

What are your fondest memories of New Zealand television?