A brief history of the New Zealand teenager

What does adolescence look like in New Zealand?

Bloody teenagers. Always having a good time despite the deep boringness of New Zealand life. A new book on the history of Kiwi adolescence shows teenagers having fun in boring towns where they attend boring schools and get boring jobs; over 230 snapshots, plus writings taken from letters, diaries and other primary sources, make up Teenagers: The Rise of Youth Culture by Dunedin academic Chris Brickell.

We present five choice photos from the book.

Just shoot me: the Bicknell girls having a whale of a time, obviously, on a sunny afternoon near Oamaru, 1896. (Item ref 2014/45, North Otago Museum, Oamaru)


There’s this sheila in refreshments and she’s pouring cups of tea: Huia and Alena pose in their smart New Zealand Railways uniforms at the Wellington railway station cafeteria in 1959. (Private collection)


Ngapuhi OG: two unidentified but totally, languidly, sensationally cool dudes, 1950s, in Kaitaia. (Item ref: C117-6, Te Ahu, Kaitaia)


Police notebook, Timaru: A New Year’s Eve bonfire on the beach at Caroline Bay, Timaru, in 1962. (South Canterbury Museum, Timaru)


Kapiti ice: Naomi Highfield, Glenys Taylor and Beverley Nicholson near the skating rink in Paraparaumu, early 1965.  (Private collection)

Teenagers: The Rise of Youth Culture by Chris Brickell (Auckland University Press, $49.99) is available at Unity Books.

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