S40644-Tomoana

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage: E Pari Rā – The Tide Surges

World War One commemorations have provided the impetus for a number of projects at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage gives us a moment to celebrate this work undertaken to ensure the preservation of, and access to, audiovisual materials relating to New Zealand’s experience of World War One.

In this blog post, the fourth in our World Day for Audiovisual Heritage series, the archive’s Taha Māori department reflects on a waiata composed during the war, E Pari Rā.

Read the first, second, and third parts in the series.

When I was asked to consider writing for the combined Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision and Australian Film and Sound Archive Anzac World War One online project, I was miffed and excited at the same time. Miffed because I wasn’t sure where to start with any of the briefs that might be sent my way, and excited by the same.

One of the items assigned to me was E Pari Rā, a waiata written by Paraire Tomoana in 1918.

Listen to E Pari Rā here

The tune was familiar, as were some of the lyrics, from my days serving in the New Zealand Territorial Forces. How many parades had I been a part of where this tune set the cadence, who really knows?

So I started first by listening to the sound files supplied by Sarah Johnston, part of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision sound archiving team. In the recordings the son of the composer Taanga Tomoana suggests the waiata was written for a friend of his father’s, Maku-i-te-Rangi Ellison, who asked Paraire to pen a lament for his son who fell during the WWI efforts to defend the Empire. This Paraire agreed to, with the view that the song lament all soldiers in all campaigns.

On listening to the audio file I gathered a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sentiment and meaning behind the waiata, how Paraire drew inspiration from the ebb and flow of the tides in and around Heretaunga and Ahuriri, and how this is a phenomena the soldiers in far off campaigns would have experienced while fighting in far off countries too.

Taanga gives a vivid picture of the story behind the penning of the waiata.

I conducted some further research by reacquainting my friendship with one of Paraire’s descendants, Ngātai Huata, daughter of the padre for the 28th Māori Battalion, Wi Te Tau Huata. It was Ngātai who confirmed for me that the waiata was indeed for all soldiers, and not written solely for Whakatomo Ellison, as has been mentioned in other places. Continue reading

OffToTheFront

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage: Making WWI Material Available for Third Party Requests

World War One commemorations have provided the impetus for a number of projects at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage gives us a moment to celebrate this work undertaken to ensure the preservation of, and access to, audiovisual materials relating to New Zealand’s experience of World War One.

In this blog post, the third in our World Day for Audiovisual Heritage series, the archive’s Partnership department reflects on making WWI film materials available for use in documentaries, exhibitions, phone apps, theatre and plays, music performances, and news broadcasts

Read the first and second parts in the series.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision received an extraordinary number of requests for WWI footage leading up to Anzac Day 2015, which marked the 100 year landings of Gallipoli, as well as commemorating 100 years since New Zealand’s entry into WWI. Over this busy period we received a wide variety of requests from all over the world for a range of different projects, including: documentaries, exhibitions, phone apps, theatre and plays, music performances and news broadcasts.

A frame enlargement from Off to The Front (1918)
A frame enlargement from Off to The Front (1918)

Along with the enquires – came the questions and interesting comments.

We just need some action shots.”

There are precious little of these “glamour” shots that were repeatedly asked for. We have continually seen re-enactments of trench warfare in film, television and documentaries, so perhaps there is an imagined notion that there is an abundance of war footage. The reality is that it simply does not exist, as it was never shot or it did not survive. Although the footage we do carry does not depict WWI in action as such, what we do have in the collection collection is significant for two reasons.

Firstly, that we even have footage to begin with – given the fact that the medium of film was barely twenty years old in 1914. Most of the surviving footage we do have is of troops marching, leaving on ships, and being inspected.

This clip F1820 – Off to the Front (1914) shows the Wellington Infantry Battalion marching along Lambton Quay. It also includes a short snippet showing men from the 6th Reinforcement on board the troopship H.M.N.Z.T. No. 28 Tofua at King’s Wharf, and finally the ship steaming out of the harbour, on 11 August 1915 (see the film on our anzacsightsound.org.nz website here). Continue reading

Egypt

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage: Sights and Sounds of WWI

World War One commemorations have provided the impetus for a number of projects at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage gives us a moment to celebrate this work undertaken to ensure the preservation of, and access to, audiovisual materials relating to New Zealand’s experience of World War One.

In this blog post, the second in our World Day for Audiovisual Heritage series, the archive’s Audience department reflects on Sights and Sounds of the Great War. This is a project undertaken with funding from the WWI Lottery Grants fund to repatriate, research, preserve, digitize and make accessible material that relates to New Zealand’s experience of World War I.

Read the first part in the series here.

Prior to the start of the WW100 commemorative period, the Film Archive (now Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) held 60 films shot during the first world war, and countless documentaries, shorts and TV programmes made since. The films came to the archive from a number of different sources: some were part of the National Film Library collection, others have come from private depositors, and we also received copies from archives in Australia and the UK. Over the years these have been preserved to film or telecined, with access copies made available on VHS, DVD or more recently as digital files.

Inspection of the New Zealand and Australian Division in Egypt (March 1915).
Inspection of the New Zealand and Australian Division in Egypt (March 1915).

The films in the WWI collection are all silent and black and white. They show troop departures, training and fundraising at home, through to NZEF soldiers serving overseas at Gallipoli, the Western Front and the Middle East. These films were made by cameramen connected to local cinemas, or Official Government or NZEF cinematographers. There is no footage of action or fighting per se, which is what people often ask us for; the camera technology of the time was big and bulky and to aim a camera above a trench was an invitation to a sniper for a free shot. However, we do see trench conditions and scenes of no man’s land, and lots of troop inspections, drill and marching. While much of the action is staged, the shattered landscape isn’t fake, nor are the often exhausted soldiers — though it’s remarkable how they almost always perk up when a camera is nearby. From the late 1980s the archive has worked with the military historian Dr Christopher Pugsley to identify and closely catalogue this collection.

The Sights and Sounds of the Great War, project was planned in five phases: repatriation, research, preservation, digitization and access. Not only would we work with the collection outlined above, we would also work with archives overseas to repatriate material to Aotearoa.

The project commenced in 2013. At that time we had a good idea of what we had in the collection and what films were missing or lost. However, there was another, third, group of films: those featuring New Zealand or New Zealanders that survived in archives overseas. Christopher Pugsley has again been responsible for much of the detective work, tracking down films in archives such as the Imperial War Museum, as have other staff members at the Film Archive and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision over the past couple of decades. And of course online databases have made the job much easier recently. It’s this group of films that make up the repatriation side of the project.

So why are so many films held in archives elsewhere? In part it’s reflective of film as a form of mass media, and the way film moved throughout the world via various distribution networks and circuits. But it’s also the result of some particular historical circumstances. One is that all the films shot by the NZEF cameramen during the war were censored by the War Office Cinematograph Committee; the material which survived was later deposited at the Imperial War Museum. Continue reading

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: Daytrippin’ with Nina

Nina introduces her Radio One show “Daytrippin’” on the day that there was anonymous shooting threat on the University of Otago campus (Radio One 91FM, 7 October 2015).

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz

 

This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently during 2015.

Otago

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage: Scanning WWI Films

World War One commemorations have provided the impetus for a number of projects at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. The UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, 27 October 2015, gives us a moment to celebrate this work undertaken to ensure the preservation of, and access to, audiovisual materials relating to New Zealand’s experience of World War One.

In this blog post the archive’s Standards department reflects on the opportunities the WWI commemorations have provided to digitise and improve the viewing experience of a set of 100-year-old films.

It’s become a given that with every decade comes new technologies to both preserve and view audiovisual records – most recently, everything from 2K or (4K or 8K) scanners to HDTV and streaming video have presented archives with difficult (yet exciting) challenges. As a field devoted to preserving titles to the highest possible standard for years to come, and making high-quality copies of material available to a wide audience, what this means is that our work is never done.

Given the volume of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s vast collection (over 800,000 items and counting!) and the time-consuming and costly nature of audiovisual preservation, unfortunately it isn’t realistic to think that we can immediately preserve and make available everything in our collection. Sometimes all we can do is conserve the items, keeping them in the best possible condition to allow future generations of archivists and conservators to do their work.

Occasionally, however, certain events come along that give us the chance to devote a large swath of attention to preserving a particular segment of the collection. With the WWI centenary upon us, we had just such an opportunity to address Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s unique collection of original film material from the period.

Take for example a 1914 film shot at Dunedin’s Tahuna Park, documenting the Otago Expeditionary Force’s departure for the front (reference #F1147). In its previous incarnation as the New Zealand Film Archive, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision had preserved the original nitrate print on 35mm safety film in 1984. This created a stable record of the artifact before any decomposition could occur, and as they were taken from the only surviving copy of the film, these elements were the highest quality film-to-film copies possible.

However, although they were preserved to the highest standard, outside of the occasional 35mm screening, the only copies available for public viewing were made using now out-of-date film-to-video transfer processes.

In 2014 the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision film preservation team revisited the original nitrate print (luckily still in good condition!) in order to create new high-resolution scans that both preserve as much detail as possible from the original element, and provide a high-quality source for new digital copies. This new version of the film is now available to view online here – and by comparison here are a few shots comparing the two generations:

Before.
Before: old copy, made using a now out-of-date film-to-video transfer process.
Otago - after
After: new scan from the original nitrate print.
Before.
Before: old copy, made using a now out-of-date film-to-video transfer process.
After.
After: new scan from the original nitrate print.
Before.
Before: old copy, made using a now out-of-date film-to-video transfer process.
After.
After: new scan from the original nitrate print.

Continue reading

Mish

The Majestic Theatre Bronze Plaque

This week Documentation Archivist Mishelle Muagututi’a had the opportunity to appreciate the detail on a bronze plaque that once decorated Wellington’s Majestic Theatre while cleaning it as part of her preservation work. This photograph shows Mishelle cleaning the plaque with a HEPA Filter Vacuum. The HEPA is an archival vacuum cleaner, designed to clean delicately. It comes with a selection of customised heads suited for navigating the forms and crevasses of a range of different types of objects and materials, without causing damage to the item.

Mishelle cleaning the plaque with a HEPA filter vacuum.
Mishelle cleaning the plaque with a HEPA filter vacuum.

This bronze plaque was part of the lavish decoration of the Majestic Theatre, Wellington, for nearly 60 years. Shortly after the theatre was demolished in 1987 the plaque was deposited to the care of the New Zealand Film Archive (as Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was then known). In cleaning the plaque, Mishelle’s curiosity was piqued and she carried out some further research into the history behind this item. Some of the things she discovered follow.

The display label on the plaque notes that:

‘The plaque was designed in Florence and erected at the opening of the Majestic Theatre on 13 May 1929. It depicts the introduction by Apollo of the new art of Cinema to the older arts of the Dance, Drama and Music.”

The plaque is now housed in the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection.
The plaque is now housed at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

The Majestic Theatre bronze plaque is something of a “curiosity” in our collection, as we hold little information about this heavy neo-classical artefact. I came across an article (thank you Papers Past) in the Evening Post, dated 10 May 1929, relating to the plaque. A reporter’s commentary of that era, the writer casually sweeps across the new building:

“… The entrance hall leads into a spacious foyer, beautifully carpeted, finished and lighted, in which stand the booking-offices for the reserved seats. Immediately facing the patrons as they enter the foyer is a bronze plaque, 5 feet by 3 feet, of classical design, representing the new art, the cinema, being introduced to the sister’s arts – the drama, dancing, music etc.”

The Majestic Theatre, from its opening day on 13 May 1929, was a state of the art venue and certainly lived up to its name. The neo-classical interior of the building started with the double sets of doors to keep Wellington’s notorious breeze from floating through the foyer. The Evening Post writer described the building as “handsome,” and “arisen phoenix-like as it were from the ‘ashes.’” The foyer was of a substantial size, encompassing: the booking stalls, ladies and gentlemen’s cloakrooms, entrance to the tea rooms (which catered for 500 people), and the well-lit passages and stairway up to the picture theatre.

The plaque’s depiction of Apollo introducing the new art of cinema to the sisters who represent dance, drama and music was significant at a time when Wellington was a mecca for film distributors. Throughout the 1920s cinema was on the rise, with “talkies” introduced at the end of the decade, coinciding with the Fuller Hayward chain’s opening of the Majestic, their 69th theatre in 1929. Situated at 100 Willis Street, the Majestic Theatre was built at a cost of 175,000 pounds, and was the second largest cinema in New Zealand (behind Auckland’s Civic Theatre).  

Continue reading

The Sinking of The Marquette

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Co-ordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Recollections from New Zealand nurses who survived the sinking of the troopship Marquette 100 years ago, on 23 October 1915, are among the new audiovisual items added to the anzacsightsound.org website this week. The website is a joint World War I anniversary project by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. It was launched in April this year in time for the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, and further archival film and sound items will be added to the site at intervals throughout the four-year commemorative period.

In the sound recordings, the nurses recall how the New Zealand field hospital they were with was travelling from Egypt to Salonika, to treat men wounded in the Gallipoli campaign. However, instead of being on-board a hospital vessel, they were transported in a troopship, the Marquette, along with an ammunition column and British soldiers. They were therefore a legitimate military target, and on the morning of 23 October 1915, the ship was hit by a torpedo fired by a German submarine.

Stained glass memorial window in the Christchurch Nurses Memorial Chapel – WWI nurse on the left above an image of the Marquette. (Image courtesy of Friends of the Nurses Memorial Chapel)
Stained glass memorial window in the Christchurch Nurses Memorial Chapel – WWI nurse on the left, above an image of the Marquette. (Image courtesy of Friends of the Nurses Memorial Chapel)

The Marquette quickly sunk, with the loss of 167 lives – 32 of them New Zealanders, including 10 nurses. In the recordings, Nurses Jeanne Peek (nee Sinclair), Elizabeth Young, and Mary Gould recall the botched launch of the ship’s life-boats, and then floating for hours in the ocean clinging to wreckage, waiting to be rescued. Listen here.

In another recording, New Zealand medical orderlies Herbert Hyde and Alexander Prentice discuss who was to blame for the deaths, and why the hospital unit was sent on a troopship in the first place. Listen here.

Many of the women who died were from the South Island, and they are remembered in the Nurses’ Chapel at Christchurch Hospital. The Chapel was built in 1924 as a memorial to the Marquette nurses, and to all nurses who died on military service during the war.

Audio Curios: Trying and Finding New Things

Hana and Sophie talk about trying new activities and how they find out about things in today’s world (Otago Access Radio, 13 July 2015).

This programme is part of a 21-part series called “Young leaders in a changing world,” which broadcast on Otago Access Radio earlier this year.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz

 

This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently during 2015.

Heritage Sounds of Christchurch at the BECA Heritage Week Family Fun Day

- By Camilla Wheeler (Cataloguer / Researcher, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) and Sarah Johnston (Client Services Co-ordinator Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

The team from Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision’s Christchurch office occupied Gap Filler’s Dance-o-Mat on Sunday as part of the BECA Heritage Week Family Fun Day. The Dance-o-Mat is a post-quake Christchurch institution – a portable dancefloor, complete with mirror ball, speakers and lights, powered by a coin-operated washing machine. It is currently located in a gravel patch in a still somewhat post-apocalyptic corner of the CBD.

It was a scorcher of a day, with a nor’wester blowing, bright blue skies and the temperature getting up to 27°c. Appropriate then, that one of the songs we were playing was the jazz standard “Blue Skies” – from our collection of historic radio recordings of Christchurch’s first jazz concert at the Radiant Theatre in 1951.

The songs featured early New Zealand jazz greats such as band leader Martin Winiata, vocalist Coral Cummins, and trumpeter Doug Kelly. 93-year-old Doug is still going strong and came down to listen and introduce himself. Our team, and some of our visitors, were thrilled to meet him and listen to some of his stories of the Christchurch jazz circuit of years gone by. More can be heard on a recent episode of Radio New Zealand’s Spectrum.

Here is the opening of the 1951 Christchurch jazz concert programme – featuring a young Doug Kelly:

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision audio conservator Sandy Ditchburn and local jazz legend Doug Kelly.
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision audio conservator Sandy Ditchburn and local jazz legend Doug Kelly.

Local swing dancers, The Swingtown Rebels, performed two sets of routines and social dancing, which drew a crowd of onlookers.

The blank wall in the background is the side of the newly-rebuilt Isaac Theatre Royal, which hosted a screening of archival film featuring Christchurch from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision's collections, also as part of Heritage Week.
The blank wall in the background is the side of the newly-rebuilt Isaac Theatre Royal, which hosted a screening of archival film featuring Christchurch from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s collections, also as part of Heritage Week.

As well as jazz, a recording of the Christchurch Cathedral bells rang out from the Dance-o-Mat speakers, in view of the partially demolished cathedral. The sound brought a tear to the eye of some guests, who had not heard them since they were silenced by the earthquake nearly five years ago. Continue reading

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: Just Kiss Me

Singer Justin Bieber with Jay-Jay, Mike & Dom, on The Edge breakfast show (8 October 2015)

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz

 

You can hear the full  Edge podcast here.

 

This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently during 2015.