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A little time-travel

9 December 2019

When I was a young lad, my friends and I used to go to "the pictures" every Saturday afternoon.

Mostly it was to watch cowboy movies or some other adventure film as the main feature but before that rolled, there were always some regular serials and a newsreel. The newsreel was dead boring... for an eight-year-old. However, looking back at newreel footage (almost six decades later) I find them intensely interesting.

And thus I have been spending quite a bit of time browsing the videos posted by "Archives New Zealand" on their YouTube channel.

Wow, what an eye-opening window into the past this collection of newreel films has become.

There's a pretty good selection of stuff on this channel but most of it seems to be from the era of WW2 and the years that followed shortly afterwards.

If you want to see just how much New Zealand has changed, take a look at videos like this one from 1946.

It should be of interest to Aardvark readers because it starts with some very early "computor" technology, as used by the NZ Treasury back in 1946. Punched cards, sorters and tabulators were the key tech of the day and apparently saved many long hours of manual work -- although it still seemed very labour-intensive.

As for that early line-printer... wow!

The next section of the movie looks at "traffic inspectors" and their training.

Again, there's some crazy mechanical technology involved that's well worth a laugh. Check out that "artificial road" (mechanical simulator) for a giggle.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the traffic inspectors segment is that they are presented more as "helpful assistants to road users" rather than a policing force geared towards revenue generation. My, how times have changed!

"To protect the unwary and keep the roads safe", what a fine motto that was!

The third segment deals with the pomp and ceremony surrounding the arrival of the new Governor General.

Just look at all the respect and importance directed at this representative of the Queen. I'm pretty sure we'll never see that again.

Massive crowds gathered outside parliament buildings and long rows of school kids lining the road to Government House in sober silence.

Those were indeed, very different times!

Another shocking difference between "then" and "now" can be seen in other videos -- and I'm talking about the attitudes towards "health & safety". There are so many instances of hard-working Kiwis building roads with not a clip-board, hi-viz vest or shred of safety-gear to be seen anywhere.

Likewise, this video shows the incredibly laissez faire attitudes to safety in respect to aviation, something that would certainly not be tollerated today (even if you were flying a child's toy)

Personally, I find it fantastic that we have this opportunity to time-travel to a much different era and find it amazing that, thanks to the likes of YouTube, such journeys into the past will be even more exciting and well documented.

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