50 years ago, The Beatles arrived in New Zealand, and Wellington was their first stop. As the band stepped off the plane, the shrieks of 7000 fans drowned out the noise of the turbo prop engines. Te Pataka concert party performed a haka, before doing a hongi (pressing noses) and presenting the band members with a tiki each. From the back of a Holden ute, The Beatles waved to fans who lined the roads from the airport to town. The crowds outside their hotel, the St George, were so large that the Beatles had to be taken in secretly through the bottle shop entrance of the hotel. Management rushed the band up to the third floor balcony so fans could see them and not crash the hotel.
It was mayhem. Girls were screaming uncontrollably, Police used dogs to clear crowds from verandas and other vantage points. Teenagers pushed, shoved, and carried on screaming – Wellington had never experienced anything like it before. The band played two shows back to back in the Wellington Town Hall on 22 and 23 June. But who heard the songs or the music, there was too much screaming going on.
The Beatles stand on the balcony of the St George Hotel, Wellington, shortly after their arrival in New Zealand on 21 June 1964.
And where was I? Certainly not caught up in any of the screaming crowd. At 18 years old I was safely home in Upper Hutt, married, and seven months pregnant. There was no way I could have gone to see the Beatles in my condition, even if there was spare cash for tickets. Having to miss the biggest thing ever to hit New Zealand during my teenage years, I thought my life was over. And we didn’t even have a TV to watch it all unfold. It was just the radio and newspaper for me.
Any other memories out there?