The British take on the 1954 royal visit to NZ. Yes, it rained

By Toby Manhire In The Internaut

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A big round of applause for British Pathé, who have completed the task of making their entire archive viewable online via YouTube.

The collection comprises a staggering 85,000 – eighty-five thousand – newsreels, which you could watch in its entirety if you had 3,500 hours to spare.

A warm NZ welcome for Queen Elizabeth II.

There is a load of terrific New Zealand material there for historians and nostalgists, including a 1970 tourism clip regaling “a country which is no longer geographically remote”, a reel from the 50s about New Zealanders and sheep, footage of New Zealanders enlisting in 1940, of the 1929 Murchison earthquake. And a lot more.

Anyone suffering from William-Kate-George withdrawal symptoms will be relieved to be able to get a big monarchic fix, including the British take on the Queen’s 1953-54 visit to the Dominion of New Zealand, a place “bound to the mother country by a thousand loyalties and traditions”.

And how was the weather when the NZ head of state arrived? “Alas, this land of summer Christmases lapsed into a mood of rain.” However, “the Queen [was] undaunted by an unkind day”.

A series of purportedly New Zealand voices narrate the film (although all are plummy English, including the Maori chap). One proudly trumpets the commercial links, with NZ providing half of all UK butter, or example. Another boasts of the racial harmony – “a community of British and Maori stock that doesn’t believe in artificial distinctions between man and man”.

It begins: “Dig deep enough in this fertile soil, dig right through the world, and you come up in the green countryside of England. For New Zealand lies exactly upon the opposite side to the mother country that New Zealanders call ‘home’.”

(If anyone took the narrator at his word, they’ll currently be burrowing their way to Spain, but let’s not quibble about that.)

Below, parts one and two, followed by the New Zealand take on the visit, via Archives NZ.







The UK Daily Telegraph picks its favourites here.


See also: William and Kate in NZ – the oddest foreign press coverage

The best royal baby front pages

From the NZ Listener archive

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