First movie shot in New Zealand

1 December 1898

1898 Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition (Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-D-MEAT-Gear-1898-01)

The first motion pictures known to have been taken in New Zealand were made by photographer W.H. Bartlett for the entrepreneur Alfred Whitehouse, who in 1895 had imported the colony’s first ‘kinetoscope’, a Thomas Edison invention that showed moving images to one viewer at a time.

Bartlett filmed the opening of the Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition, including the Newton Band playing, the arrival of the governor with a cavalry escort, and the entry of crowds to the building.

The film was screened for the public using a ‘Cinématographe’ at Bartlett’s Queen St studio on Christmas Eve, with musical interludes provided by another Edison invention, the phonograph. On Boxing Day Bartlett filmed Uhlan winning the Auckland Cup at Ellerslie Racecourse. These films were described as ‘clear and almost free of the flicker which so often mars the effect of a good picture’. After making 10 one-minute films, Whitehouse toured the North Island showing his ‘Animated Pictures’, to mixed reviews from audiences who seem to have doubted that the local product could match up to imports.

Image: The opening of the 1898 Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition was shown in the first motion picture shot in New Zealand

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