Kōrero: Rural media

Country calendar is New Zealand’s longest-running TV show – a sign of New Zealanders’ affection for the countryside. From the newspapers of the 19th century to the internet today, a range of media have kept both city and country dwellers informed about rural life.

He kōrero nā Nancy Swarbrick
Te āhua nui: Listening to the radio at home

Story summary

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Newspapers and journals

From the early days of European settlement, newspapers covered farming news. Journals informed farmers about animal, land and machinery sales, and tasks to be done on the farm. Farming families in isolated places relied on these papers for news.


Today, farmers can get information from the internet. There are many New Zealand websites about farming.


Radio broadcasts began in New Zealand in the 1920s. They soon became popular, helping farmers feel less isolated. City people also often listened to the programmes. William Goodfellow, founder of the New Zealand Cooperative Dairy Company, helped set up a national radio network.

At first, mainly music was broadcast – then news, weather forecasts and special farming shows began. From the 1930s, there were programmes for pupils of small country schools and Correspondence School pupils. After the Second World War more radio programmes were made for farmers, but these were cut in the late 1980s.


Television began broadcasting in New Zealand in 1960. Like other media, it provided farmers with information and entertainment, and showed city people images of rural life. By the late 20th century, most New Zealanders lived in cities – but many still thought of the country as the ‘real’ New Zealand, and enjoyed watching programmes about it.

Country calendar was the first farming programme. It started in 1966, and was still showing in 2008 – making it New Zealand’s longest-running TV show. It focused on personal farming stories, and sometimes played jokes on its audience.

Some drama programmes have been set in the country. In the 1970s, comedian John Clarke became famous as his character Fred Dagg, a farmer who wore a black singlet and gumboots and had a deadpan sense of humour.

Advertisements for products such as food and cars often appeal to New Zealanders’ fondness for country life.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Rural media', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/rural-media (accessed 29 November 2021)

He kōrero nā Nancy Swarbrick, i tāngia i te 24 Nov 2008