Centennial - growth of New Zealand identity

Page 8 – Sound and film interpretation - 1940 Centennial

Sound and film files associated with the Centennial Exhibition

Visit the media gallery for the feature on the The 1940 Centennial where you can listen to sound files about the exhibition that were recorded between November 1939 and May 1940. Follow the links to find the files and transcripts.

These sound files are an opportunity to hear real people associated with this event and from them we gain a sense of the excitement and pride that surrounded the exhibition. In listening to Lord Galway, the Governor-General, we hear a very strong British accent that highlights the close relationship between the mother country and here. It was not until 1967 that New Zealand had its first New Zealand-born Governor General – Arthur Porrit – although he had lived most of his life in Britain and even retired to Britain. Galway's extracts are a sound bite from a very different New Zealand. Prime Minister Savage was dying from colon cancer when he spoke of his visit to the exhibition in 1939, and this speech was one of his last public addresses.

You can also view an amateur silent colour film taken by the exhibition architect, Edmund Anscombe. This represents a personal insight into the exhibition from its construction through to its opening, with an emphasis on Playland and all the fun of the fair. Clip 8, 'Exhibition grounds', gives a good sense of the layout and design of the exhibition grounds, with other clips showing people enjoying the rides.

Soundfiles and transcripts available from the feature


1. How would you describe the tone of the interviews with Charles Hainsworth and W.T. Trethewey ('exhibition manager', 'pioneer man' and 'pioneer woman')?

2. As well as informing listeners of some of the ins and outs of constructing and putting the exhibition together, what appears to be the main purpose of these interviews?

3. The interviewer seemed particularly excited when discussing the size of the British government's display:

'23,000 square feet! I'll just say that slowly listeners, 23,000 square feet. It looks as if it is going to be made in steel.'

Similarly when discussing the statues of pioneer man and pioneer woman with W.T. Trethewey:

'The two are 8 foot six.'

'8 foot six, that's what you call um ...?'


'Heroic, yes.'

a. What is it the interviewer is trying to convey to the listener?

b. Why is so much detail given about the scale of the project in these interviews?

4. Use the film clips and sound files to write a paragraph of between 150–175 words that outlines which aspects of the centenary exhibition these records of the event have sought to capture.

5. What is the overall impression of the centenary that you have gained as a result of viewing and or listening to these files?

How to cite this page

'Sound and film interpretation - 1940 Centennial', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/ncea-level-2-history/sound-and-film-interpretation, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 4-Aug-2014