1964 The Beatles land in NZ
Beatlemania hit New Zealand when 7000 hysterical fans greeted the Fab Four in Wellington during their 'Far East' tour. After stints in the United States, Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, the long-awaited lads from Liverpool finally touched down in New Zealand.
They came at the start of a new era. During the 60s young New Zealanders, with the help of broadcast television, were beginning to tune in to an international youth culture. The Beatles’ fame preceded them and our teenagers were ready for action. At Wellington Airport, police struggled to restrain crowds behind a wire fence. Police dogs were called in when rapturous fans besieged the Beatles’ hotel.
On 22 June the Beatles played their first New Zealand concerts, repeating a 30-minute 11-song set, as fans screamed and punctured the seats of the Wellington Town Hall with their stilettos. Fans in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin followed suit. Possibly the most dangerous moment of the Far East tour occurred in Auckland, where the Beatles faced a mob of several thousand people with little police protection. They were trampled and mauled, and John Lennon lost a clump of his hair.
The tour had a big impact on New Zealand’s rock’n’roll and pop music scene, with local artists such as Ray Columbus, Howard Morrison, and Max Merritt and the Meteors enjoying a new surge of interest in the Beatles’ wake.
The Beatles were one of the most famous and commercially successful bands in popular music history. Their quest for new sounds and the social awareness expressed in their songs were a major influence on 1960s pop culture worldwide.