Life in the 20th century

Page 3 – Time out

Time out: recreation and leisure

A new concept of 'leisure time' appeared in the 20th century. Changes to working hours gave some people more time off. More people lived in towns where there were many places to spend hard-earned money.  In the boom times of the 1920s and years after the Second World War, leisure activities blossomed further. By the second half of the century, leisure and recreation were a core part of modern sNew Zealand life.

The match and the meet

Women running

The women running through the bush at a school picnic in Hawke's Bay in 1961 were continuing a tradition of informal competition at social events— three-legged races, sack races, pram racing and the married women's sprint.

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Beautiful New Zealand

Film crew by lake

The central North Island with its spectacular thermal and volcanic features has long been a mecca for local and international tourists. They also visited Rotorua to see the 'model Maori village' at Whakarewarewa. Ngati Whakaue and Tuhourangi people lived in the village, where some also worked as guides. Filmcraft, a forerunner of the government's National Film Unit, shot scenes for New Zealand Scenic Charms at Whakarewarewa in the 1930s. To create the impression of 'Maoriland' that some people expected, Maori dressed in traditional garments posed in 'daily activities' around the hot pools.

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How to cite this page

'Time out', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 28-Apr-2023