In 1995, PM Jim Bolger and Dame Cath Tizard socked it to 'em for Team NZ

Red sock hysteria swept the nation as a symbol of support for the 1995 America's Cup Kiwi team - and politicians of varying hues happily jumped on board.

Pictured are former Prime Minister Jim Bolger and former Governor-General Dame Cath Tizard donning red socks at Wellington's Port Nicholson Yacht Club the day they watched Team New Zealand's victory on television.

"We all had red socks at Government House," Dame Cath remembers. "They certainly grabbed everyone's attention."

The red socks saga started when Sir Peter Blake wore a pair for each race of the 1995 Cup. Every time he wore his socks, the black boat was victorious. The one race lost was the one in which he and his socks were not racing because of injury.


Blake's wife, Pippa, who bought him the original red socks as a Christmas present, says the extra-ordinariness of the socks caught on and Kiwis went crazy for them.

"There were farmers in the South Island who were dipping their whole sheep herds in red dye so they were wearing red socks," she laughs. "The elephants in the zoo wore them, the Symphony Orchestra wore them. It was a completely mad, crazy time in New Zealand with the red socks."

She says she will never forget the feeling of arriving back in New Zealand and the welcome the team received.

"There was a parade in Auckland, and lining the streets going down into the city were people in red socks, with their dog with their red socks on. When we actually flew into Auckland, the pilot said, 'Look outside', and there was a huge hot air balloon with a 60-foot high red sock dangling beneath it."

Having the Prime Minister and Governor-General each wearing a pair was quite a gesture, she says.

"It was pretty phenomenal. It was the most amazing time, with the country behind the team."

Dame Cath admits she is watching the America's Cup currently on screen because a friend rings her to insist she tunes in.

"I just wish I could work out what's happening," she laughs. "I'm not a sea-racing person, and it's hard to keep up because of all the angles it's being filmed from, like who's ahead of what and who's going where. Thank goodness for the commentary and the repeats."