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They did what?

25 November 2021

Oh no, I've been at it again!

I should never be left alone with a computer, an internet connection and the URL for YouTube because bad things can happen.

During the last week or so I've been wasting far too much time on YouTube because, once again, I've been trawling the New Zealand film archives but the things I've found have been astounding.

As a nation, New Zealand is so very lucky to have this magnificent film archive now available online. These short films (about 8-10 minutes each) do a remarkable job of documenting the history, culture and people of the nation since before WW2.

Today I'm going to highlight a few of the amazing things I found during my hours of viewing.

I should add that I've only seen a very small percentage of the videos posted to the Archives New Zealand YouTube channel so if you find this stuff interesting I urge you to do some browsing of your own.

The first video is a cracker. It reveals that there was once a mercury mine in North Auckland. Apparently the raw ore was mined and then converted to liquid mercury in a process that would have given today's health & safety officials a huge heart attack. Watch this and prepare to be shocked, as workers allow liquid mercury to trickle through their fingers and break up mercury-laden rocks with sledgehammers.

Not a pair of gloves, a facemask or a hi-viz jacket in sight. Wow!

Next up... does anyone remember the RNZAF?

There was once a time when this tiny island nation had a credible air force that had bombers and fighters, rather than just craft suited primarily to training and humanitarian missions.

Check out this video for some fascinating footage of the NZRAF at a time when they were about to receive a squadron of 80 Mosquito fighter/bomber aircraft from the UK. Yes, that's right EIGHTY aircraft! My, how times have changed!

Finally, for today, as we move towards the era of electric-powered vehicles and advanced battery technology it might be worth a look back at how we used to make batteries here in New Zealand.

The EverReady company apparently had a factory right here in NZ and it was filled with people making old-fashioned zinc/carbon dry-cell batteries. Once again I see that health and safety took a back seat and plenty of lead-based solder was on-hand to dull the senses of those involved.

Now, of course, thanks to globalisation, we no longer engage in such manufacturing tasks and instead we have become 100 percent reliant on imported battery technology for our portable devices.

I hope you've found these glimpses of times-past to be as fascinating as I did. Next time you've got a few minutes to spare, take a look through this trove of history and prepare to be astonished at just how much New Zealand has changed since those amazing days of the mid 20th century.

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