The Beatles in New Zealand

Page 4 – Auckland

The Beatles did two back-to-back shows in Auckland, on 24 and 25 June. Auckland fans were as riotous as those in Wellington. The music went almost unnoticed as everyone commented on the audience: 'Yes, they certainly did Auckland proud, that audience which provided squeals of such volume, the uproar and the footwork under the seats. The Beatles? After all, you can’t watch everything at once,' said concert reviewer Pat Booth.

Off stage, things were hectic and sometimes dangerous. Police took no chances with security when the band arrived at Auckland's Whenuapai Airport. The band was hurried through the crash gates at the end of the runway, well out of sight of the 300 waiting fans.

Auckland police were less than impressed with the presence of The Beatles in their city. In a 1981 interview, a tour manager recalled the attitude of the inspector in charge: ‘His opening remark was, "We didn’t want 'em here and I don’t know why you brought 'em." We had a lot of problems trying to get him to protect his public from themselves and a lot of trouble getting around Auckland.’

This hostile indifference put the band in danger. Only three police were assigned to a mob of several thousand fans, 10 metres from the band's hotel entrance. The Beatles became trapped inside their car. Members of their entourage had to push the car, inch by inch, towards the hotel garage through a sea of hysterical, fainting fans. As they tried to get into the hotel, The Beatles were trampled underfoot and mauled by devoted fans.

It was the most dangerous moment of the entire Far East tour. John Lennon was so outraged at the lack of security that the Auckland shows were nearly called off. In America a few months later, he recalled the scene:

It got a bit rough in New Zealand; a big clump of my hair had gone and I don’t mean just a bit. I was halfway on the ground. They put three or four police on for three or four thousand kids and refused to put any more on.

One of the tour managers said it was the one time he saw Lennon really lose his temper: 'Ringo had got a bit hurt. He virtually went on strike, refusing to play any more shows until he was assured that there would be enough police when they needed them.'

A decision by the Mayor, Dove-Myer Robinson to hold a civic reception for the Beatles prompted one of his councillors to complain about acknowledging the ‘hysteria, antics, adulation, rioting, screaming and roaring’ associated with ‘these bewigged musicians.’

Leaving Auckland proved as difficult as arriving. A warning that a ‘germ bomb’ had been planted on the plane meant that police quarantined all stage gear overnight at headquarters. Everyone's suitcase was personally checked, delaying the flight by half an hour.