Monday, 4 August 2008

NZ Olympics - the last 100 years from NZ History Group

I have a great deal of time for the NZHistory Group. Over the last couple of years they have consistently planned and executed first class online features to match either an anniversary or an upcoming event.

The Editorial Plan
Apart from the quality of the offer, this track record is a welcome example of an annual editorial plan - where features and online exhibitions relates to the world outside - a tactic I'm afraid all to often missing from many of the web sites, both local and global, of our big museums, galleries, archives and libraries.

Olympics - NZ last 100 years
This new feature is tied to the Olympics, and though pitched to all, the focus is on schools.
It begins with the pioneering efforts of Harry Kerr, Violet Walrond and Arthur Porritt, moves through the great track triumphs of Lovelock, Snell and Walker, and includes the achievements of NZ rowers, canoeists, equestrians and yachties.

For example, swimmer Violet Walrond was New Zealand's first female Olympian at the 1920 Antwerp Games. Travelling for nine weeks with little chance for training, Violet and her team mates, including bronze medallist rower Darcy Hadfield, were severely disadvantaged.

Darcy Hadfield had been to Belgium before but in very different circumstances. In 1917 he was wounded at the horrific battle of Passchendaele. With more than 4600 Kiwi soldiers lying in Belgian war graves, the Antwerp Games were laden with meaning for many New Zealanders.

Although New Zealand will compete in Olympic soccer for the first time this year, in 1956 a Kiwi soccer referee, Morrie Swain, found himself ‘the least popular man in the stadium’ as his offside decision helped hand the gold medal to the USSR team just weeks after the brutal Soviet invasion of Hungary.

New Zealanders had more problems at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Not only did they face resentment from African nations dismayed at the All Blacks decision to tour South Africa but technical problems meant Keith Quinn was unable to broadcast much of the opening ceremony to Kiwis eagerly awaiting the first live television coverage of the Games.


Media Gallery
The media gallery showcases the best and worst of Olympic history with footage ranging from mid-air shots of 1954 gold medallist long jumper Yvette Williams to that famous radio commentary of the gold medal runs of Peter Snell and Murray Halberg at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

The Classroom
Invites students to examine not only the place of the Olympics in New Zealand's history but the many intersecting historical events that have contributed to the international fascination with the Olympics - the political wrangling, boycotts, controversy and tragedy.

Other features include, “16 Olympic Stories” , with one story one for each day of the 2008 Games, an Olympics quiz tests with a virtual gold medal for those who score over 80% plus a Community Contributions section invites visitors to challenge well-known sports writer Joseph Romanos’ list of New Zealand’s best Olympians.

First class effort. Perhaps their masters, the NZ Ministry of Culture and Heritage might care to give them a chest of gold to keep up and extend the good work.


Christchurch City Library
See also these resources from Christchurch City Library who, inter alia, have devoted their regular online Edition feature to the Games, here.

They also have a general Beijing Olympics backgrounder here.
Also see their backgrounder on some of the controversies surrounding the Beijing
Game , here .


Unknown said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,


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