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Sound file: the Mazengarb Report

Audio file

Hear Nigel Stace, a member of the Mazengarb commission, discuss attitudes to salacious literature and music in the 1950s.


Interviewer: The youngest member of the committee was Nigel Stace, at that time president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce

Nigel Stace: Right from the start of the hearings there was a fairly strong view, from the religious elements in particular, that the problem was wholly caused by salacious books, indecent publications, sexy films, this sort of thing was wholly responsible for all the sexual delinquency. Now that view was adamantly held by that group, represented on the committee.

On the other hand of course all the if you like, the educational, and medical authorities almost ridiculed that view. They pointed out that there was no evidence whatsoever to say that books and films caused sexual depravity.

An incredible number of letters and — simply described as pulp literature — were sent in, I could say in the hundreds. They were piled on the table and members of the committee were invited as far as the books, pamphlets and things, advertisements were concerned, were invited to have a look at them some time. As it fell in my particular sphere I was asked to go through the whole lot and they ranged from newspaper advertisements for corsetry — which incidentally I might add we ruled were not offensive (but some of the people sending them in thought they were) — to just general junk literature, which was badly written, a waste of time — certainly not helpful for people, but I wouldn't have said very harmful... I think it would be fair to say the covers were the most salacious part of the magazines, the rest you might even say was disappointing...

Interviewer: I understand also that some of the music of the day was causing offence to members of the public?

Nigel Stace: Yes, yes much to the concern of Jack Somerville, the Minister, who found that one of the songs he used to sing in the bath or the shower was considered particularly offensive and sexy — it was called if I remember 'I'll see you in my dreams' — and Jack was horrified to hear that this was a suggestive ditty!


Radio New Zealand Replay Radio. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Replay Radio. Reference: Spectrum #731, 'The Mazengarb Report', Replay Radio

How to cite this page

Sound file: the Mazengarb Report, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated