THE SURPRISE PACKET DAY IN WELLINGTON

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This film is an important glimpse of New Zealand society during World War One and a rare surviving example of a local topical film. It shows fundraising activities for one of the many charitable causes, ranging from the YMCA to Belgian widows and orphans relief, that were supported during the war.

Although the dates of filming and screening of this film are unknown the United States flag present in the opening shot suggests late 1917, but it is more likely early 1918. Similarly, the actual fundraising event is unknown, but the mood of the crowd is buoyant and though there are no scenes filmed inside the shed it seems there is some form of fete or bazaar taking place. The film is also notable for showing a wonderful, detailed, cross-section of Wellington society: a few soldiers, youths, seamen, working men in their leather jackets and caps and married couples with children.

Topical films such as this would be shot then developed within 24 hours and shown as a supporting feature in local cinemas as quickly as possible. They were topical in every sense and after touring cinemas the print was so worn as to be worthless; by then the topic was also no longer newsworthy. Hundreds of these films were made covering similar subjects and few survive-- this is a significant exception.

Medium wide pan of a large crowd outside one of the sheds on King’s Wharf, Jervois Quay, Wellington; people walk through the shed doorway which is draped with the flags of the allied nations. People walk down a platform through wrought iron wharf gate after moving through the building where they brought or bid for items; they are holding a mix of parcels, books and in one instance a child’s cane cot! Horses and carts pass by in front of the gates, and Mount Victoria houses can be seen in the background. Close up of the crowd on Jervois Quay, great shot of children laughing and smiling and adults looking curiously at camera. People gathered around a table set up outside shed, with a crew cut Maritime Officer, a [port official] and woman in white dress selling items to the crowd (perhaps tickets and war bonds); in the background people continue to file into shed. Pan of large crowd outside shed. Three motor cars pull up outside the shed, the first carrying a group of five men [officials], the second a couple, and the third three men; there is a busy street scene in the background. View of crowd outside the shed, people being let into shed one at a time. High pan of the crowd outside the shed, mostly men and youths, many of them are smoking and looking at the camera.

From notes by Chris Pugsley.

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Year 1917

Reference number F7107

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Actuality

Duration 0:03:04

Production company Department of Agriculture

Credits Camera: Sydney Benjamin Taylor