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Television in New Zealand

Page 1 – Introduction

TV experiments at NZBS, 1951
TV experiments at NZBS, 1951

New Zealand’s first non-experimental television transmission went to air on 1 June 1960. Over the half century since then TV viewing has become a familiar, shared daily ritual for most New Zealanders, young and old. Today, despite the challenge of the internet and computer gaming, the ‘box’ remains a major source of family entertainment, a key medium for news, sports coverage and advertising, and a powerful cultural and social institution.

To mark five decades of TV in this country, we've presented five snapshots of Kiwi TV history. To begin with, we look back before 1960 to unearth a largely forgotten story of TV experiments – some dating back to the 1920s – and the various political and technical debates of the late 1940s and 1950s.

We also trace the evolution of early evening TV news and the rise and fall of dozens of TV music shows – some iconic, some obscure. Finally, we explore the way television advertising and news coverage has helped shape modern elections, and how our own history has been showcased on the small screen.

How to cite this page

Television in New Zealand, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated