Truck Files - A New Zealand Story

The Truck Files – A New Zealand Story – was commissioned by Prime/Sky  in 2018 and is the most comprehensive look at the development and history of the New Zealand road transport industry produced to date.

This three-part documentary is heavy with historic footage and interviews, and traces the development of an industry which was tightly regulated by successive governments, in order to protect the rail investment, from the horse and cart days in the early 1900’s up until the implementation of the High Productivity era and the importance of road transport during the Covid crisis of the 2020’s.

Episode one takes us from era of the horse-and-cart at the beginning of the twentieth-century, to the conclusion of World War Two, and the evolution of trucking during that period.

Stripped of the majority of our trucks for military use in the early forties, the country was in a sorry state by the end of the war, but an unlikely saviour in the form of battle-weary GMC trucks from the Pacific theatre were sitting on our shores, ready for the junk-pile in the opinion of ‘experts.’

Episode two covers the period from the conclusion of World War Two, up to the the dire straights the industry was experiencing prior to de-regulation in the early 1980’s.

While the ex-military GMC trucks gave some breathing room, being at the end of a long supply-chain for new vehicles, close ties with the Commonwealth meaning a heavy reliance on British trucks, and together with a predominance of petrol engines and successive governments with a rail fixation – meant tough times for an industry straining at the leash to show its capabilities.

The final episode covers the de-regulation of the transport industry was a massive boost for the economy, but it was up to the industry to convince the government that the industry still had plenty of potential, after overseas studies showed how governmental blindness to road transport was hindering the economy.

The era of High Productivity vehicles was ushered in, and that distinctive bright yellow ‘H’ displayed on the front of the majority of our big-hitters, was a hard-proved, hard-won battle against governmental blindness to the economies of scale that these larger capacity vehicles offered.

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This production could not have been made without funding provided by the companies whose logos are featured here.

TruckArchive is grateful to all for their support in getting this to air, but in particular the three principal funders, HWR, Sime Darby and Daniel Smith Industries.

Daniel Smith kick-started this project, wanting to inform the general public of just how much the trucks on the roads pay in RUC’s – and how little respect we get on the roads for the job we do.

From that grudge grew this. Thanks Dan. 

This series generated a huge amount of footage, with only a fraction being seen here and whereas this series was painted with broad-brushstrokes to educate the public about the evolution and necessity of our industry – we are now embarking on a more focused series of programming that will highlight in greater depth various aspects of our industry.

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