Episode 3 - Play

Episode 3 - Play

While lifestyles and working hours may have changed, our appreciation of “getting away from it all” and “getting together” hasn’t. The Kiwi summer reigns supreme, and space and freedom continue to be cherished.

From camping and sunburn to pop culture, professional sport and environmentalism, this episode of Decades In Colour celebrates PLAY across the decades, exploring the essence of “time off” on the home movies of everyday Kiwis.

Preview by Melenie Parkes

Before the days of Saturday trading and 24-hour everything, weekends and holidays in New Zealand were sacred. The country closed down for Christmas while everyone escaped to the beach. The home movies in this episode of Decades In Colour reveal how mad we were (and still are) for beaches, baches (toilet optional) and all things outdoors.

After World War II, tents, caravans and baches (or cribs, depending on where you live) cropped up all over the countryside.

Carol shares footage from 1952 of her family building their bach on the Hibiscus coast in Auckland from old car cases and creosote.

“We used to get up in the morning, get dressed, usually in our swimsuits, straight to the beach lie around in the sun all day,” she says over footage of bodies frying to a crisp on Red Beach. “We never used sun cream so we just got browner and browner. And burnt.”

Sport and the enjoyment of what the outdoors has to offer has always been a big part of the Kiwi lifestyle.

Patricia’s videos tell the story of her family’s homemade swimming pool while Gail’s movies are a glimpse into the early days of marathon running in New Zealand, with footage of Rotorua’s first marathon in 1965.

Alastair accidentally made a reality TV show with his camera, albeit 45 years too early. In 1966, he filmed a dramatic rescue at Piha as lifeguards burst into the surf with tow ropes.

Brian’s clips are not just a slice of Kiwi life, but an intimate look at our most famous sporting team. His footage recalls the time he took the All Blacks to Seatoun Beach in Wellington in 1989. You couldn’t get away with filming the All Blacks in their downtime now, but less than 30 years ago the team were keen to perform for Brian’s camera. Warren Gatland, Craig Stevenson and Zinzan Brooke, dressed in “skimpy shorts,” competed in a beachside running race so close that it required a photo finish.

But play and politics collided in New Zealand in 1981 with the Springbok tour. John’s footage of the protests at Eden Park is a powerful historical record, capturing the moment protestors and police clashed and the flight of a light aircraft that dropped flour bombs over the field.

Ed’s extraordinary home movies chronicle the burgeoning skateboard scene in Auckland in the mid-70s. Skinny kids with just gardening gloves for protection race down the wide, empty streets of new subdivisions and careen past the towering walls of the Hunua dam slipway.

Nowadays, everyone has a video camera in their pocket with which to document their lives. But the filmmakers depicted in Decades In Colour had no way of knowing that just by capturing their friends and family at play, they were creating a rare and valuable record of what it means to enjoy life in New Zealand.