The New Pioneers 1940–60
As a result of the Second World War, New Zealanders slowly became aware of the Pacific setting and its responsibilities. Moreover, the stimulus provided by new migrants, easy travel, and the mass media–radio, television, and long-playing records have brought new styles and standards into the New Zealand home. Most potent has been the impact of the American imagination, with its variety, vigour, vulgarity, and creativity, as expressed in the technical and material proficiency of the products of the Hollywood “dream factory” and in the flood of glossy magazines. These influences may be discerned dimly in the local carbon copies of “ranch houses”, “Split levels”, and “West Coast Pacifica”. Standards of construction and sanitation, materials and techniques, mechanical equipment, and domestic comfort have steadily improved. With the trend towards self-sufficiency in local manufacturing, a wide range of materials and finishes have become available–veneered plywoods. wood and composite sheets, patterned concrete blocks and bricks, metal doors, windows, and screens, trough section roofing and wall cladding, insulation and plastics, floor coverings, furniture, and furnishings. Minimum building by-laws and town planning regulations, together with the resale requirements of valuers and appraisers, materialised in the house of the man in the street and the prefabricated low-cost house which now featured bigger windows, fully glazed doors, metal sun awnings and venetian blinds, wall-to-wall carpets, and carports to house. Nevertheless, there are signs of the emergence of something that can be classified as basically “New Zealand”. Cultural life in this country over the last 15 years has shown a “slow advance of civilisation”. A national feeling of separate identity is growing which has found expression in the arts–in a deepening appreciation of those aspects of life from which a national culture emerges.