Growing Up In 60s & 70s New Zealand
Firstly, forget these things exist, because we never had them or they were not invented yet or no one could afford them if they even existed.
Calculators, MP3 players, digital tv, digital anything, cell phones, texting, computers, the internet, e-mail, ipad, iphone, I watch, DVD, Broadband, solar power,
As a kid, I was, what I consider to be fabulously lucky to grow up in these two decades. I was a baby of the 50s, a child of the 60s and a teenager in the 70s.
As a baby, obviously I remember nothing! Once I hit five though, I started school - in the 60s - Waiouru! It was a fucking freezing hole in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. It was an army camp. Plenty of room to wander. It snowed like a bastard in the winter and covered the ground by about a foot in deep, cold, wet snow.
We went to school in all weathers, buffed up in all manner of coats and protective things to keep us warm and protected from the mud we had to navigate daily to get to school.
Army men marched. Tanks and army trucks and things rolled around the place and it meant bugger all to us as kids. Seasons rolled around and we finally moved to the South Island and Burnham - another army camp. Things were very different for us. I was 6 at the time we arrived there.
It was a hot, windy shit hole of a place in the summer, and cold as crap in the winter. Funny how military camps are so crappy! Because I was older, I and my brothers and sisters wandered a lot. We could go just about anywhere as army brats and we never got into any serious trouble. Funny, these days, that would never happen. People would be too worried about children being around all those men!
They were soldiers, many of whom waited to be sent to Vietnam. A few went there. A few never came back. As army kids, we knew what it meant. We knew that meant death. While townie kids watched the bombs on tv in their safe little lounge, there were kids among us whose fathers were there, killing and being killed. Fucking wars are a cunt! They are only good for one thing - mass murder of innocents!
When a kids father was shot or killed, we were told at school. The kid came to school once or twice and the class went quiet. No one ever knew what to say! You wouldn't see the kid again because the family would have to leave camp.
Burnham from 1961 to 1967 was ok. I loved the freedom. Mum and Dad had a transistor radio which was always on, playing the Hit Parade! We knew all the songs, and what they meant, especially the protest songs. I often went to sleep at night, listening to the radio. We had a wringer washing machine which mum slaved over each day. My younger brother got his arm caught in the wringer when he decided to see what happened if he did! He got wound in up to his armpit and the wringers just sat there spinning slowly! What a dick! There was free milk and apples in primary school. We each got a half pint bottle of warm milk which milk monitors – older kids, got from the gate each morning. It was designed to help poor kids stay healthy through the bad financial times that New Zealand has become so mired in. That milk stopped mid 1960s! The result was a few kids with nothing to eat at all at school. Poor kids hung around and bludged food from those with lunches, even at the Burnham school.
We all rode bikes - without helmets or knee pads, and it was then I actually learned to ride – by leaning on a lamp post, sitting on my big sisters bike then kicking off and hope I didn't fall off. Everyone rode bikes, and some had those wee Triang scooters. It was a close place. Was it idyllic? I don't think so. It seemed plain; complicated by the closeness of a small group of neighbours in a piddly wee hamlet. There were no secrets and everyone knew whatever you got up to. Phones were basic party lines – several phones on the same line, manually connected by an operator. She (because in the 60s, women did women's work and men did men's work) could hear everything you said and no doubt, gossiped about it. After we moved from Burnham, we no longer had a party line. Our first phone number in town was 40-373. Gee, it only had 5 digits.
Although the 60s were seen as the "Flower Power" years, New Zealand, for a kid was aggressive. There were bully kids, just as there are now. Back then, assholes thought it was funny to toss a heavy rock at my head, splitting it open and making blood piss everywhere - stitches! I was a fat kid, and a pussy, so I copped bullying - at every school I went to. My favourite pastime was playing under the pine trees at the back of the camp. Once, I accidentally started a fire along the fence in the long grass. Thank God I managed to put it out before my parents saw it! We mostly played outside – not much need for toys, although we had them. I had Matchbox cars and other things. The olds bought us a Scalextric slot car set – very cool!
I got my first bike in 1966 from Hornby Cycles - it's still there today although the owners have long since moved on. I rode everywhere. It was great, living out there in the countryside with long roads and plenty of time. I particularly liked riding on my own. It helped me stay clear of the dickheads who thought it was funny to push over the fat kid. Funny, there were no perverts or dangerous men hiding in the bushes! We knew about stranger danger but it never came up in everyday life! We also got one of the first TVs out there. It only went for a few hours a day and was black and white. The Lucy Show and Casey Jones and the like were what we watched – fantastic, clean viewing. Look them up! Other kids came around to watch it but didn't often see it going as my parents used it purely for entertainment and the news. They would not let us watch willy nilly! In the 60s, when we got TV, it only came on at 5pm and went till 10pm. It was all the NZBC could organize in the early days.
In the same year, we moved from Burnham to Christchurch city, the first city I was old enough to remember since I had only lived in military camps. It was a bit of a shock. We suddenly went from complete freedom and wide open spaces, to doing as you are told, following rules and keeping to yourself! I went to Phillipstown school. Bullies there too! Not just casual ones, but a much larger amount than in the country. "Peace and love" my ass! Christchurch was a shitty, dirty, decaying city full of old brick buildings. There was plenty of traffic and we had to be careful riding around the city on our bikes. We wandered everywhere, even talked to strange men, funny how none of them were dirty old men! There was a gasworks which stunk up the town and everything hustled and bustled - until the weekend. Bugger all traffic on the weekends because nothing was open. Only one town was open for shopping in this part of the country - New Brighton.
There were sick kids at school in Christchurch, mainly with diseases of poverty which had started sneaking in to everyday life. Kids had scabies or nits, so nothing unusual there in terms of today's school kids, although it never ceases to amaze me at the denials of this – now in particular. ! One family had two boys there, both with bad Asthma - They got bullied! I got bullied and all around was the music of the time - peace and love, and protest against the war! I had come into contact with war first hand as a kid in military camps. To the townie kids, it was just pictures on the TV!
Let's not forget that the Vietnam atrocity carried out by the yanks, and our soldiers by proxy, raged on right through the 1960s as non communists who New Zealand was aligned with murdered Vietnamese women and children by burning them alive in Napalm (massive fire bombs) drops, and cancer causing defoliants such as Agent Orange, made in New Zealand – shame!. There were protests in New Zealand, as there were all around the non communist world. People blamed the soldiers as the shocking pictures permeated the home, more and more. We were all led to believe we were about to be attacked and dominated by the communists in Vietnam and China. That's probably why many people here in New Zealand were so openly racist in the 60s. Not the Hippies though.
There was a hippie culture in New Zealand, though not the same hyper amount as the USA. We knew about hippies s kids, although in an army camp in the early 60s, hippies were considered dross. I did not consider this to be the case – I still don't. The hippies wore clothing you'd probably consider anti-style, and were indeed often highly covered. You did smell weed being smoked all around and there were derisive comments from self-righteous people who thought they were above hippies. To me, hippies were about peace and free love, not working, fighting the establishment, usually in a non violent but disruptive way, bludging whatever they could, smoking dope, not washing and engaging in free love – yes, I came from an army camp. I knew what that meant, even at 9! All through the 1960s, there were a few hippies scattered about New Zealand. They sort of moved on at the completion of Woodstock!
Casual racism was all around. People used terms like Nigger, Boonger, Nig Nog, Hori, black bastard, jiggerboo and many others. It was everyday stuff - disgusting by today's standards and no one corrected it. It was quite acceptable to call a Maori "Hori" - that's the same as calling and Australian Aborigine "Boong"! Don't let anyone tell you New Zealand was any better than anywhere else. We were racist as shit, even the TV programs. It was normal. You could get bashed for not being white – yes, we had our own racial prejudice here and anyone who denies it is lying!
We owned a dairy - a sort of general store for a couple of years. Other kids thought we were lucky but two things happened quite quickly after moving in! The first was decimal changeover in 1967 in which the currency collapsed, causing the second thing to occur - Recession! No one had much money, if any at all. We had bugger all because we stupidly allowed credit as the pinch hit people. To feed themselves, they bought from us and never paid. The business went broke – so did we, then it was time to move, but not before the gas which we used to run our house on – cooker, hot water califont – almost killed us all. The pilot light went out. Thankfully, a woman from up the road was visiting and left very late. The leak was noticed and we were roused from our beds and evacuated from the building my mum and dad. That sort of thing happened back then. We don't have gas in the city any longer from a piped in supply
Shortly after this, the gas works were shut down and many lost their jobs – great – bang in the middle of the recession!
We moved to a rental house in St Albans in Christchurch, just a few streets from the shop. It was not much of a change, though us kids had to switch schools to Richmond – now gone after quakes etc! We got used to making new friends and so on. A bikie gang moved in down the road. We were always down there. The bikers never cared that were playing on their bikes and they never told us to piss off – except the weekends when biker molls came over for booze and bonking. They wouldn't let us in the place on those days. Their language never bothered us, after all, us kids had always lived in army camps among soldiers who swore.
I loved the bikes – their roar, their beautiful looks… brilliant. I was 10 years old, just about to turn 11. Living there was cool. We went all over town, and to the movies, the gardens, museum and all manner of places. I got to know an old Polish guy who ran an electrical component shop. I hung around their a bit and got plenty of great electronic stuff, and advise from him. Great guy. I still do hobby electronics to this day. Nowadays, he'd be seen as a predator on young boys. He was just a dude who had time to spare for pain in the ass kids who wanted to learn! Remember, electronics was new back in the 60s and heaps of boys were becoming interested in it!
Things changed from this time on - sort of quietened down and became a bit humdrum. We went to another school as we had moved areas. Richmond school – up to 12 year olds! Not really much to do at he end of the 60s. More traffic. More people. Different friends. We all rode everywhere on bikes, even though the traffic was hostile. You hear people say there were fewer cars about in the 60s, but no! There were a lot and the traffic controls weren't great. Just watch a bit of footage sometime.
This was the end of the “Flower Power” movement. We all knew the music and saw the odd Hippie floating around the town but many didn't really know what they were about. As I said earlier, we kids had some idea of the movement, war and drugs through one thing or another. There were Coke machines in garages, with ice cold Coke bottles just waiting to rip off the fingers of unsuspecting kids when they weren't quick enough after putting their coin into the machine. I was at the point in time where kids went off to intermediate school! Whereas primary school was laid back and easy, things were a bit more organized and even aggressive at intermediate. Woodstock rolled around. I had a badge which said “Woodstock, Peace and Love”. I wore this to school and got in trouble for wearing it. The teacher, a young woman asked me if I knew what it meant. I told her what I thought it meant – “All wars are crap – screw the establishment and down with the man – there should be peace and love not hatred and war – drugs for everyone” – she didn't see my point of view and I was ordered to remove the badge and told never to bring it back to school. What an uptight chick man!
Other kids at intermediate got into various fads. Chopper bikes, swapping stuff among other things were what we did. It was sort of preparation for the fiscal world if you like. Music began changing – less protest and more commercial pop. Woodstock came and went. Ironically, the Vietnam war was still raging against the backdrop of peace and love. Our soldiers were there, dying and killing in a far off place called the killing fields of Vietnam. It was to be recorded as the biggest gathering of humanity in the name of peace, in history. There was free love, drugs, flower power and Hippies but, it was the end of the movement. The record companies jumped in and took over the core of the movement – music for cash! The dream was over.
The 70s were not much of anything to speak of for us as kids, then teens. School came and went. The usual bullies came and went and school life was awkward as we made our way through the minefields of growing up. The Vietnam war was still going in the first few years of the 70s, until the yanks who had drawn us into their fucking illegal war pussied of and ran home to mommy – not before murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. When the soldiers came home, they were reviled, spat on and called “baby killers”. Well, as far as I am concerned, that's what they were in the name of the yanks! We should not have been there! It was none of our business and none of the yanks business what people do in their own country.
1973 was my first year of work. First as a storeman at a supermarket, then I trained as an engineer. I don't recall drugs, booze and wild parties. I had nothing to do with anything like that because it couldn't be done while riding a motorbike. I don't recall any of the bad things that the current generations of dumbass twats say we did. The only thing which remained was the war. Petrol became a problem in the 70s. There were carless days. I bought a car and motorbike so I would always be able to get around. There was plenty of freedom, fuck all money – people had discovered credit! Pay was shit and you couldn't really buy what you wanted without saving, or hire purchase. We now know that road leads to the credit crunch of today!
70s music was ok. Nothing to go crazy about and it was so commercial so corporates could make shitloads of cash of us teens. I listened to friends albums or the radio because it cost nothing and I didn't want to waste cash on a record with one great song, and 12 shitters! I met up with a chick I knew from school and she put me onto a friend of hers to hang out. Upshot: the chick, a fatty called Mavis (even had a shit name), insulted my motorbike as we were riding in Manchester Street in Christchurch. In those days, bikes were wild. I had a GT250 Suzuki. I revved the bike and dropped the clutch – the last I saw of the fat chick was looking in my mirrors and seeing her their on her ass in the middle of the road. Funny! I still piss my pants laughing over her when I think of that!
Remember the items we never had at the start of this piece? By this time, they were beginning to appear. I had my first calculator at my trade cert exam. It had to be super basic and non programmable. We were never allowed to use them at school. Walkmans appeared. Cassette tape players with crap sound but not too bad for mobile units. We were still nowhere near home computers. They would arrive in the 80s, in a rudimentary form, before beginning their Windows development.
I had motorbikes all through the 70s, like so many other people – mainly because there were the oil shocks of the 70s when demand exploded and supply, for political reasons dried up! I smoked cigarettes, like many, many others because we thought it “looked cool”. I didn't drink alcohol but the odd one or two of my acquaintances did. There was no wholesale drinking problem in the 70s. By the mid 1970s the Vietnam war was over. There were not many jobs around unless you wanted to be a conveyor jockey in some shit paying factory.
There was crime around. There were assholes shooting people in robberies and all the same other crap which goes on today, was going on back then – all except one thing – sex crimes. All the current one's in terms of allegations are coming out of the 60s and 70s. I can tell you with absolute clarity, there was not rampant sex criminality back then – it was made up in the 1980s in England and the snowball formed. Later generations, for some reason, have attempted to erase all men from the 1960s and 1970s – one entire generation. I blame the feminazis! They are the feminist movement. The most dangerous, rabid and mental piece of shit idealism to come out of that generation. They are the beginning and the end of modern men's rights. I do believe that history will portray them in this light. Maybe the feminist movement was a creation of the corporates who destroyed the 60s peace era so thoroughly.
Near the end of the 1970s things felt dark. We were nearing a recession, again and I was about to lose my job. Engineering would crash in the 80s and my whole apprenticeship would be wasted. That's a whole other shocking story to be told at the right time.
“Maybe it's the time of man” - Joni Mitchell
In the 1960s, we almost found both Nirvana and enlightenment through love, freedom, idealism and hope and drugs – heaps of drugs. It was stolen away by television, money, debt, materialism and corruption. What could have and should have been the time of man, became the time of capitalist rape and control. The 1960s were the only chance the world has had for redemption and it was squandered by police violence, hatred and capitalism – through public control over state media, in all countries.
The 1960s, though full of freedom, peace and love, great music and protest were also full of bullies, war and fear. As kids, we went about our day without worrying about much other than the school bullies. All the same social things which exist today, were around back then. Although there was free love in the 60s, at least for some people in those movements, it was not rampant. The times were very different. Not much has changed although violence is rampant now because women have set out to smash mandom with false sex allegations and have destroyed all semblance of male authority. The 70s, boring, broke, bollocks. People working their asses off for little money and no appreciation from their bosses. No toys like the modern age enjoys, but social interaction was real, not virtual. Facebook today just copies this and lets you interact falsely in your bedroom!
What do I think in a nutshell?
The 1960s and 70s were little different from now. A little slower and with fewer toys. There was freedom on a spiritual level which you could feel. You had to physically interact and felt a little more secure in yourself. Same shit – different time! Anyone who thinks those two decades were wonderful is kidding themselves, however, there was something back there – something innocent – something with a real feel which is missed deeply by all of us who grew up back then. Was it good or bad? I have no idea. All I know is it was real and impossible to find again.