The 1960s

Page 3 – 1960 - key events

‘No Maoris – no tour’

In May 1960 the All Blacks left for a tour of South Africa. They had finally won a series against the Springboks in 1956, and the rematch between the two powerhouses of world rugby was much-anticipated. The Springboks won the 1960 series, but the tour is best remembered for the fact that no Māori players were selected because of South Africa's segregationist apartheid laws. The selection of an all-white All Blacks team sparked huge public protests.

Arrival of television

Broadcast from Shortland St in central Auckland, New Zealand's first official television transmission began at 7.30 p.m. on 1 June. The first night's programming lasted just three hours and was only received in Auckland. The first broadcast included an episode of The adventures of Robin Hood, a live interview with a visiting British ballerina and a performance by the popular Howard Morrison Quartet.

Double gold in Rome

On 2 September New Zealand enjoyed one of its greatest days at the Olympic Games when Peter Snell won gold in the 800m. Less than an hour later, Murray Halberg won the 5000m to complete a remarkable double in Rome's Olympic Stadium. Barry Magee's bronze medal in the men's marathon was the icing on the cake for coach Arthur Lydiard.

The Holyoake years begin

The second Labour government went into November's general election still suffering from the backlash to its infamous ‘Black Budget' of June 1958, which had alienated many of its traditional supporters. The increase in taxes on beer and cigarettes - the workers' pleasures - in response to a worsening balance of payments crisis was skilfully exploited by National leader Keith Holyoake. National won the election with a 12-seat majority. Holyoake was sworn in as prime minister and Jack Marshall became deputy prime minister.

Other 1960 events

  • In February, Helen Garrett of Christchurch became the first woman to serve on a jury in a criminal case. The Women Jurors Act (1942) had provided for women aged between 25 and 60 to have their names placed on the jury list on the same basis as men - if they so desired.
  • Barry Crump's novel A good keen man was published.
  • Following a magnitude 9.5 earthquake off the coast of Chile (the most powerful earthquake of the 20th century) tsunami waves struck New Zealand's east coast in the late evening and early morning of 23/24 May.
  • In September a 'riot' by young people at the Hastings Blossom Festival saw ‘degeneracy and licentiousness among the nation's youth' become an election issue in November.
  • The Aranui, TEAL's last operational flying boat, landed in Mechanics Bay, Auckland, for the final time on 14 September. The Coral Route - Auckland to Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tahiti - was the world’s last  flying boat service running to a regular schedule.
  • The USS Halibut (boasting nuclear-capable Regulus cruise missiles) became the first nuclear-powered submarine to visit New Zealand.

Can you remember 1960? Add your memories and comments in the form below.

How to cite this page

'1960 - key events', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-May-2018

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Malcolm Watts

Posted: 07 Apr 2021

I was 6 years old when my family moved to Taupo. I had an idyllic childhood. My parents thought nothing of my biking around the lake on gravel roads to park up at Whakaiapo Bay to enjoy my little cut lunch and swims. Us kids could explore the wild places, steam vents etc. near our home. With the tramping club I climbed most of the volcanoes in the region, enjoyed a bathe in the Ketatahi Springs etc. There was no OSH, no cycle helmets, no hindrance to what we could do. Building tree huts, riding down our pumice road in homebuilt trolleys, going for picnics, days fishing on the lake and at nearby rivers (my dad's favourite was the Hinemaia Stream). Family holidays all round the North and South Islands (dad once drove us over the Skipper's Canyon road - scary as - in our little Ford Prefect. ). Family camping hoiidays at various beaches North and South. Family holidays at an uncle's farm at Motukarara and a friend of dad's up the Coromandel Peninsula. Putting a longline out at the beach (a hazardous ride for dad in our little homebuilt pram dinghy. I could not have asked for a better life. It was paradise for us - literally!

Tony Goodwin

Posted: 09 Mar 2010

I was working as a Draughtsman at HM Dockyard, Devonport and was fortunate enough to have a conducted tour aboard USS Halibut. No one paid the slightest attention to a nuclear powered submarine being tied up at Devonport Dockyard. Subsequently her sister ship, USS Thresher was lost in the Pacific