An almost forgotten strike at TV New Zealand in the mid-1970s by women production secretaries – angered about their poor pay and conditions – halted the filming of drama, live news and sport.
The women won their fight, achieving parity with male floor managers, who were several pay grades above them.
Now, thanks to the 2023 Shiers Trust Award, Australian media historian Jeannine Baker will be able to undertake research on the strike and the early days of television in New Zealand.
Baker, the recipient of an award of £5,000, will use the money to pay for travel and her stay in Wellington for archival research and to conduct interviews with women who worked in New Zealand television during its first three decades, from 1960 to 1990.
Her research will lead to a journal article about the strike and contribute to a book Baker is developing about women in early television in both Australia and New Zealand.
“I am thrilled to accept the 2023 Shiers Trust Award. I hope this research will lead to a new story about the development of New Zealand television, one that considers the whole production environment and brings into view the nature and status of women media workers,” said Baker, who currently lectures at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia.
“Although much of women’s labour in the early decades was in production support or auxiliary roles, they also worked in a range of technical jobs, including as film technicians and editors, vision switchers, and videotape and telecine operators.”
The Shiers Trust Award, which is funded by a bequest from the US television historian and RTS member George Shiers, offers a grant of £5,000 towards publishing any aspect of TV history.