Episode 1 – Home

Episode 1 – Home

Capturing family life lies at the very heart of home movies. In episode one we celebrate HOME and what it has meant to New Zealanders in the decades since WWII.

Moving across 50 years and throughout the country, we explore our collective love of space and freedom, the importance of finding our place and people, and the joy we find in raising a family.

From A&P shows to inner city flatting, marriage, divorce, street protests and church on Sunday, this episode of Decades In Colour tells the story of our country’s coming-of-age through the eyes of ordinary Kiwis who’ve captured their everyday life on film.

Preview by Melenie Parkes

“She was the best person at trying to boil any goodness out of cabbage” says a voice filled with affection for the effort, if not the results, of cabbage stewed to mush.

It’s a memory that will be familiar to many, and the new season of Decades In Colour brings a whole host of these memories from our collective Kiwi consciousness together. Watching the brightly coloured lives of strangers on screen is like catching glimpses of our own lives. Punks, war brides, soldiers and immigrants intermingle in this footage from across the decades.

The first episode is dedicated to home and the images of Kiwi life are warmly nostalgic and sometimes, incredibly moving. There is the footage of a couple’s post-war wedding, made all the more spine-tingling by their daughter’s recollection of her parents’ unique love story.

But much of the footage, loaned by Kiwis from around the country, details the story of ordinary life in New Zealand; working in the garden, kids hooning on their Christmas bikes in helmet-less abandon, time spent with friends and neighbours. Enjoying the freedom that life in New Zealand affords us.   

“Our idea of home has always been as much about space and freedom as it has about four walls,” says narrator Judy Bailey, “it’s what the Kiwi quarter acre dream was all about.” Freedom plays a big role in the way we feel about New Zealand and home.

For some of the people featured in Decades In Colour, looking for a place where they could live a less regimented life is what drew them here.

In 1967, George was eager to escape the feeling of confinement in Switzerland and found peace, space and a garden (filled with enormous cabbages) in Tirau.

“We were totally liberated because there was nobody looking over our shoulders,” he says.

Steve and Irene made the move out from England in 1974, looking for a better life and finding it in a new subdivision in South Auckland. Their home movies are a flashback to a time when home ownership was achievable for everyone. They also afford us a rare glimpse of the Trekka, the only vehicle to have been designed and manufactured in New Zealand.

Mike, a builder from Grey Lynn, shares footage of his homemade house truck from 1978, built from old phone booths. Looking like a fairy-tale cottage perched on the back of a truck, his home on wheels enabled him to live wherever he pleased.

“It goes back to that same old word,” he says, “freedom.”

But alongside freedom, there’s another passion that Kiwis share; lawnmowers. Cranking up the movie camera was also the cue to crank up the lawnmower.

In Home we see every kind of grass-clipping implement, from the old hand mower to the shiny new Masport, the pride of every Kiwi garage. And in our faintly cabbage-scented memories of home, the lawnmower remains an emblem of that Kiwi quarter acre dream we all share.