The Sixty's. The "King of Rock and Roll" was holding his own, the British invasion was shifting into high gear, I graduated from North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem, NC in '64, joined the Navy later that year, wondered if I would get to see the Ho Chi Minh trail up close and personal, didn't, but some of my classmates did, and never were able to tell about out it and "Make Love - Not War" echoed from the Flower Power generation.
On a much lighter note, Tonka was in a crisis of its own. Tonka had a few failures in the 60's like the Army trucks (talk about bad timing) but for the most part, Tonka was on the grow and was looking to expand its manufacturing and distribution capabilities outside the U.S.A. In 1963, Tonka signed a licensing agreement with Rayon Surfaces Limited headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand to manufacture Tonka trucks. The licensing agreement eventually matured and Tonka New Zealand was born.
Literature regarding the New Zealand operation is difficult at best to find. Reviewing a 1964 New Zealand Look Book will give you an idea of the models manufactured and the differences between New Zealand made and U.S.A. made Tonkas. I should also note that Tonka New Zealand also manufactured and shipped components, steel and plastic, to locations outside of New Zealand for assembly.
Before you begin reviewing the New Zealand Tonkas, take a look at some of the key differences, especially in the Regular series. It appears that the NZ Mini Tonka and Mighty Tonka series remained virtually unchanged from their U.S.A. counterparts. However, the New Zealand section of this website is still it its infancy (April 2012) and the availability of NZ Mini, Regular and Mighty Tonkas is slim at best. As new examples are found, the website will be updated.
Whitewall used on regular series trucks
New Zealand Regular series cab with driver's side on right
Additional information about some of the identifiers you need to know. The N.Z. branded whitewall, while unique to New Zealand made trucks, is not the only whitewall found on New Zealand trucks. U.S.A. branded whitewalls were used on early production regular series Tonkas.
Tonka New Zealand logo label
Tonka New Zealand axle bearing lube label
The Tonka New Zealand logo label featured, although accurate in detail, is a reproduction. How do we know? The reproduction is a water slide. The original was a pressure sensitive or adhesive backed paper label. The axle bearing lube label is paper backed silver foil also adhesive backed. The lettering is red. I'm still looking for axle bearings on Regular series trucks. The round New Zealand Made label just below has a black background with the stylized Kiwi and lettering in white. This label is also pressure sensitive.
Circa 1964-1970 New Zealand Made label
Typical label locations on a Regular series chassis