Life in the 20th century

Page 4 – Bridging the gap


Linking spaces, places and people has always been important. Whether 'communication' meant travelling from place to place, transporting products or stringing telephone lines across country, changing communication systems across two long thin islands has been a dramatic feature of life in 20th century New Zealand.

People to places

Sheep yards

This 1917 photograph of stock saleyards at Waingaro in the Waikato hints at the massive transformation of transport that began in the first two decades of the century. Horses were, and would remain for some time, the main means for rural people to travel around, and to and from, their properties. Cars made a huge difference to country folk. In the 1920s and 1930s, they had a higher rate of automobile ownership than urban dwellers.

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From home to school and back again

School bikes

Cycling to school is a memory shared by grandparents, parents and today's children. Throughout the century, schools up and down the country featured a twice-daily bicycle rush that is captured in this photograph at a boys' school. Pupils stream from classes to the cycle park, where they disentangle their machines from the general crush. Most of the bikes are of the solid, old-fashioned type; a few are the latest in 1970s style, with 'ape-hangers' and a banana seat.

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How to cite this page

'Bridging the gap', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012