Story: Nation and government

The telephone box war

The telephone box war

Many New Zealanders are sceptical of the competence of bureaucrats in government departments or state-owned enterprises. In 1988 a Christchurch personality, the Wizard, became incensed when Telecom (which had just taken over running the country’s telephone service from the government Post Office) decided to paint the country’s traditional red telephone boxes pale blue. People on both sides of the debate wielded paint brushes until public opinion forced Telecom to admit defeat. The Wizard’s victory was a hollow one, however, because the traditional telephone boxes were soon replaced by metal and plastic pay-phones. These ones, however, survive in Christchurch, a testament to the Wizard’s determination.

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How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'Nation and government - The state sector and Crown entities', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 May 2022)

Story by John Wilson, updated 1 Sep 2016