The History and Evolution of Neon Signs in New Zealand

2 minutes read

Neon signs have a long and interesting history in New Zealand. They first appeared in the country in the early 1930s, and immediately caught the public’s attention with their unique ability to light up the night sky. Over the years, neon signs have become a cultural icon in New Zealand, with many businesses using them to advertise their products and services.

The early neon signs in New Zealand were mainly used to promote cafes and bars. They were a symbol of the growing nightlife culture in the country, and were often accompanied by catchy slogans and flashy designs. The first neon sign to appear in New Zealand was the sign for the Wharf Cafe in Wellington, which was installed in 1932. The sign was a huge success, and soon many other businesses followed suit.

In the 1940s, neon signs became even more popular in New Zealand. During World War II, the government imposed a blackout to prevent enemy aircraft from being able to see the country at night. This meant that neon signs became even more important for businesses, as they were one of the few sources of light in the darkness. Neon signs were also used by the government during the war, to display messages such as “V for Victory”.

The popularity of neon signs in New Zealand peaked in the 1950s and 60s. They were used to promote everything from milkshakes to petrol, and were often accompanied by bold, colourful designs. One of the most iconic neon signs from this era was the Tui brewery sign in Mangatainoka, which featured a large bird with flashing eyes. The sign became so famous that it even inspired a popular beer brand, Tui Beer.

In the 1970s and 80s, neon signs started to fall out of fashion in New Zealand. They were considered old-fashioned compared to more modern forms of advertising, such as television. Many businesses removed their neon signs, and they became a rare sight in the country.

However, in recent years, neon signs have made a comeback in New Zealand. They are now seen as a retro and fashionable form of advertising, and many businesses have started to use them once again. Neon signmakers have also adapted to the times, using modern technology to create more intricate and sophisticated designs.

Today, neon signs in New Zealand are no longer just used to promote cafes and bars. They can be found in all kinds of businesses, from clothing stores to hair salons. Many people also use neon signs as decorations in their homes, adding a touch of retro glamour to their interior design.

In conclusion, neon signs have a rich history in New Zealand, and have played an important role in the country’s cultural life. From their early days as symbols of the growing nightlife culture, to their current status as retro icons, neon signs have evolved and adapted to the changing times. They continue to light up the night sky and capture the public’s imagination, proving that even in the digital age, there is still a place for this classic form of advertising.

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