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Watch Slice of Heaven videos 

  • International relations
  • Social welfare & the state
  • Diversity & civil rights
  • Māori in the 20th century
  • Home-grown

The stories of the 20th century could be told through images alone. Here, you can watch Slice of Heaven videos that have drawn on New Zealand’s film, television, and sound archives – our museums of moving images and sound.

You can also watch relevant episodes from the successful television series Tales from Te Papa. Plus we’ve included links to related films and sound recordings available elsewhere online. Check out these valuable resources and expand your experience of New Zealand’s 20th century history.

We'll be adding films to this collection over time, so keep checking this page for updates.

International relations: World War I

Dorothy Broad soldier dollsDorothy Broad soldier dolls – Tales from Te Papa 61

New Zealander Dorothy Broad came up with a special way to keep her soldier boyfriend close while he was overseas during World War I.

E P Cox's diary and photoE P Cox’s diary and photo – Tales from Te Papa 63

E P Cox's diary offers a precious first-hand account of life from the front lines during World War I.

International relations: World War II

Home frontHome front 

Witness emotional scenes as New Zealand families send their men off to fight in World War II. See how women keep the country running. Watch American troops in action here.

Country ladsCountry lads – Archives New Zealand

In 1941, troops march through Wellington, New Zealand, before embarking for World War II action in North Africa.

Troups entertain their dayTroops entertain their day – Weekly Review 108 – Archives New Zealand

This 1943 newsreel captures aspects of New Zealand life on the home front during World War II.

Leatherneck's diaryLeatherneck's Diary – Weekly Review 76 – Archives New Zealand

When United States forces arrived in New Zealand, the Weekly Review cameras were there. This film contains the first motion pictures released of this event and is based on the diary of a US Marine, Private Bob Hatch.

Land girls, overalls and killing knifeLand girls, overalls, and killing knife – Tales from Te Papa 22

During World War II, women traded their fancy frocks for overalls. Riria Hotere learns the stories of two avid land girls. The knife they used to kill sheep is on display in Slice of Heaven.

International relations: 1950s New Zealand

Royal tour specialRoyal tour special – Pictorial Parade 19 – Archives New Zealand

In this 1954 government film, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh tour Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Taranaki, and Wellington, attending the historic opening of Parliament and the Royal Investiture (awarding of royal honours).

International relations: Changing foreign ties

Hiroshima objectsHiroshima objects – Tales from Te Papa 70

A Kiwi doctor brought back these keepsakes from ground zero at Hiroshima. You can see them for yourself in the exhibition. Find out whether they are radioactive after all this time.

Social welfare & the state

Altered stateAltered state

View Plunket’s first steps, the desperate times of the Depression, and the formation of the welfare state. This silent film compilation starts in the early 1900s and runs through to the 1970s. In the exhibition, it is projected on a wall overlooking the displays.

Railways of the Pacific WonderlandRailways of the Pacific wonderland  – Archives New Zealand

This 1939 government film celebrates the building of the railway network as New Zealand’s greatest industrial and commercial undertaking.

The changing railwaysThe changing railways – Pictorial Parade 65 – Archives New Zealand

This 1957 government film records the latest and last big steam engine rolling out of the sheds and over the Canterbury Plains.

Dental nurse equipmentDental nurse equipment – Tales from Te Papa 25

The Wellington dental nurse clinic was dubbed ‘the murder house’ after it opened in 1921. Simon Morton says it's no wonder when you see the ghastly tools used in the trade at that time.

Housing new developmentsHousing new developments – Pictorial Parade 79 – Archives New Zealand

In 1958, twenty miles from Wellington, a vast building programme is under way and new towns are growing in the Porirua Basin.

Diversity & civil rights

Rugby ballRugby ball and John Minto helmet – Tales from Te Papa 4

What connects a 1956 leather rugby ball and a shiny blue bike helmet from the early 1980s? Simon Morton uncovers the history of rugby rivalry between the All Blacks and South African Springboks, and the mark it has left on New Zealanders.

Before reformBefore reform

Des Smith, John Jolliff, Tighe Instone, and Dana de Milo talk about life in New Zealand before the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform Act.

Māori in the 20th century

Māori battalion returnsMāori Battalion returns – Weekly Review 232 – Archives New Zealand

This 1946 newsreel features Maori Battalion soldiers returning home from WWII and the celebrations their arrival inspires. The narrator soberly recalls the casualty rate of the battalion (five men in seven).

To live in the cityTo live in the city – NZ On Screen

This Arthur Everard-directed documentary produced by the New Zealand National Film Unit pursues four young Māori - Ripeka, Moana, Grace and Phillip - as they transition from school, whānau and rural life To Live In the City. The film follows them as they arrive in Wellington and attend a pre-employment course run by The Department of Māori Affairs which offers accommodation and advice on employment options. A 1991 sequel To Live in the City 24 Years On, picked on the lives of the four, now middle aged.

Howard Morrison QuartetHoward Morrison Quartet – Pictorial Parade 103 – Archives New Zealand

In the 1950s, the Howard Morrison Quartet were among many Māori musicians and artists influenced by modern, urban culture. Their slick blend of Māori culture, popular music, and comedy was a hit. Watch the quartet here, accompanied by Toni Williams and his Tremellos.


Play School toys - JemimaPlay School toys – Tales from Te Papa

Television broadcasting began in New Zealand in 1960, bringing the world into people’s living rooms. The Play School show revolutionised children’s entertainment in the 1970s, continuing until 1990. Meet some of the original cast, now part of Te Papa’s collections.

Designer wallpapersWeeber wallpaper collection – Tales from Te Papa

Te Papa's collection of historic wallpaper, particularly from the 1930s, may have you asking what treasure might be covering your walls.

See more objects in Collections online

Collections online

Find out about 20th century items in Te Papa's collections.



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