NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop heeds some vintage advice on how to safely navigate a New Zealand summer.

Your average Kiwi summer comes packed with a chilly bin-load of potential hazards. From sunburn to prickles and beyond, there's plenty to keep you vigilant. These vintage public safety awareness films tackle a range of serious subjects – some arguably with more success than others.

In colonial times drowning was so rife it was known as 'the New Zealand death'. This jaunty 1951 educational film attempts to change that through cunning reverse psychology – teaching swimmers, fishermen and skylarking lads "how to drown". Eschewing the confrontational realism of many a later PSA, its light-hearted approach mixes lessons on water safety with silent film-style tomfoolery and gallows humour. Worth a watch before hitting the beach.

Watch How to Drown here:

Keeping with a water safety theme, 1971's A Great Day to Go sticks to more traditional shock tactics to get its message across. On a summer's day, a fisherman, surfer and boatie all reckon it's "a great day for it". But thoughtlessness and error result in needless tragedy all round, a funky soundtrack juxtaposed against sombre closing shots.

Watch A Great Day to Go here:

Made by the National Film Unit, 1952's Pedestrians or Jaywalkers takes a high-spirited approach to road safety – accentuating road-crossing dangers through a series of bad examples. Mis-steps include walking off the footpath carelessly, crossing the road at oblique angles, 'dithering,' and over-confidence. Though slapstick and pun-packed, much of the content remains relevant today.


Watch Pedestrians or Jaywalkers? here:

Heading out of the city, 1966's Too Late to be Sorry delivers a still-pertinent lesson in hunting and firearms safety. The short film opens by dramatising what can happen when things go wrong, before a hunter imparts "the five basic safety rules" (complete with obligatory ciggie dangling from his lower lip).

Watch Too Late to be Sorry here:

From 1971, Such a Stupid Way to Die was made to promote bush safety, and was widely screened to a generation of Kiwis. In it, a fictional trip into the bush turns into a Stubbies-clad version of the Blair Witch Project as we're told that one of the group will not survive the night, picked off by that fearsome killer: exposure. Despite its important subject matter, the doom-laden tone soon earned the film a reputation for inducing titters in school classrooms and scout halls throughout New Zealand.

Watch Such a Stupid Way to Die here:

But for those heading bush this summer – or perhaps to Auckland's hipster-filled central suburbs – the last word should really go to TV botanist David Bellamy. For a brief period in the late 1980s, Bellamy became DOC's bushy-haired poster boy – an old man with a beard fronting a campaign to eradicate the invasive weed Old Man's Beard from our forests. Remember, "a trim is not enough – Old Man's Beard must go!".

Watch Old Man's Beard Must Go here:

You can see more vintage safety advice here, in NZ On Screen's Better Safe than Sorry Collection.