Category Archives: NZ History

AhiparaFeature

Solving a Mystery: The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade

- By Lawrence Wharerau (Kaiwhakataki: Programme Coordinator, Māori, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

I have an affinity with Northland – I love the bush, the people and the sea too, and it’s not just because I’m from down them ways. One of my favourite places on earth is Ahipara, by the sea at the southern end of Te Oneroa a Tohe aka Ninety Mile Beach and sheltered by the Tauroa Peninsular to the west. The Herekino Forest has its eastern flank and it is 14kms northeast to Kaitaia, with Pukepoto in between. Shipwreck and Ahipara Bays are famous surf spots and they were once popular places for gathering toheroa.

Some years ago (as in over 15 years ago), I was going through the film collection at The Film Archive (as Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was then known), when I came across an amateur film called Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade, circa 1955, which piqued my interest. I had never heard of this brigade and initial enquiries gave little evidence about what they were about nor who these women were. At the time I was curating for a ten marae screening tour of Northland for the project Te Hokinga Mai o Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua ki Ngāpuhi.

The Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.
The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. (Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.)

The seven-minute film starts with a wide shot overlooking Ahipara from the top of Whangatauatia Mountain, which dominates the environs to the south of the seaside village and is the gateway to the Ahipara gumfields. Then it shows several of the brigade members going about normal domestic duties: hanging washing, ironing, gardening, and the like. Cut to a rubbish pile on fire, a call is made to the local fire station, the klaxon fire alarm is activated, and then it’s all on. It’s down tools and aprons and a mad rush to ready the fire tenders, a Land Rover with trailer and a flat-bed truck, packing the required equipment, and heading off to the incident. Hoses are run out and the fire is attended to with a crowd looking on.

Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).
Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).

You can watch the film on our online catalogue, here

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Happy St Patrick’s Day!

To get in the spirit for Ireland’s national day you can listen to this “Spectrum” radio documentary from 1996, about Auckland’s St Patrick’s Festival.

 

Dancers at the Irish National Feis, Kilbirnie, Wellington - Photograph taken by John Nicholson. Dominion post (Newspaper) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1986/5281/18-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23030957
Dancers at the Irish National Feis, Kilbirnie, Wellington – photograph taken by John Nicholson. Dominion post: photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1986/5281/18-F. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23030957

 

Or tune in to Sarah Johnston talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about Irish recordings in our Sound Collection.  

MatatiniFeature

Te Matatini 2017

- By Lawrence Wharerau (Kaiwhakataki: Programme Coordinator, Māori, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Every two years the crème de la crème of kapa haka artists put their reputations on stage and on show. Dubbed the Olympics of traditional Māori performing arts, Te Matatini is an essential biannual booking in many Māori calendars.

This year’s festival (Feb 23-26) was hosted by Ngāti Kahungunu, at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park. The event ran across four days, with 47 teams of 40 members each competing in pool rounds for the first three days. The finals on the last day then featured the top three performing groups from each pool.

The competition was fierce and the performances even more so, as groups competed for the auspicious and highly coveted Duncan MacIntyre trophy presented to the overall winner.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision's tent at Te Matatini 2017.
Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s tent at Te Matatini 2017. (Image: Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga)

 

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision were invited to have a presence in the corporate sponsors area by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga along with Creative New Zealand. As Kaiwhakataki – Programme Coordinator, Māori, I curated a number of screening programmes to be played out on a large monitor in the tent we shared with MCH and CNZ. Pou Ārahi for Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Honiana Love, also attended as part of the archive’s work developing iwi relationships. Continue reading

Happy 70th NZSO

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra turns 70 this week, marking the anniversary of its first public performance in the Wellington Town Hall, on 6 March 1947. Extensive recordings from the orchestra’s early years are held in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s sound collection, and RNZ Concert have drawn upon this archival audio to produce a series of programmes marking the event.

You can listen to them at the links below:

National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season ... 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season … 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
BoyInTire

91 Years Ago: Athletic Antics

91 years ago today, a fun time was had by all at a sporting event at Athletic Park, Wellington. This silent film footage, shot on 6 March 1926, includes scenes showing various sporting events, including: javelin, long and short distance running, hurdles, cycling races and high jump – as well as some slightly less conventional athletic feats, such as the “boys inside tyre race.”

 


Rose v. Hahn In Final Mile Test & Chief Events at Sports Meeting, Athletic Park 6 March 1926 (shot by Joseph Sylvanus Vinsen)

 

The film also features footage of Randolph Rose, one of New Zealand’s first great distance runners, defeating the American champion at Masterton two days earlier.

 

J S Vinsen with a motion picture camera. Tesla Studios: Negatives of Wanganui and district taken by Alfred Martin, Frank Denton and Mark Lampe. Ref: 1/1-017471-F. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301776
J S Vinsen with a motion picture camera. Tesla Studios: Negatives of Wanganui and district taken by Alfred Martin, Frank Denton and Mark Lampe. Ref: 1/1-017471-F. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301776

 

The film was produced to a high standard by Joseph Sylvanus Vinsen. The smart intertitles that introduce each event are designed in modern 1920s fonts and feature a graphic of a runner. It would have been screened locally, as a prelude to a longer film feature, allowing people who participated in the event the pleasure of seeing themselves or their friends / family members on screen.

 

Rose v. Hahn In Final Mile Test & Chief Events at Sports Meeting, Athletic Park 6 March 1926 ()
Intertitle from “Rose v. Hahn In Final Mile Test & Chief Events at Sports Meeting, Athletic Park 6 March 1926″ (shot by Joseph Sylvanus Vinsen)

 

- By Ellen Pullar (Digital Programme Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

ScottBaseFeature

61 Years Ago: Building Scott Base, Antarctica

61 years ago, in February 1956, the design of Scott Base, Antarctica commenced. The project was led by Edmund Hillary. A unique film held in the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, called The Design and Construction of Scott Base Antarctica: 357 Days (Ministry of Works, 1957), follows the progress on Scott Base.

The film’s narrative charts the design and build of the base, the testing of its construction materials, the departure of Hillary and his team by ship on 10 December 1956, through to the men’s activities on the base in Antarctica.


The Design and Construction of Scott Base Antarctica: 357 Days (Ministry of Works, 1957)

The designers of Scott Base were faced with significant challenges in conceptualising the buildings – as the film’s narrator informs us:

“nobody had endeavoured to design a permanent home in these circumstances before.”

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MainlandRGB

“I’ve Never Seen Them So Excited…”

One great thing about working at an audiovisual archive is helping people connect with the stories and faces of their past.

Not long ago, a member of the public – Richard Poole – contacted one of our Client Services team asking if we had a copy of a certain Mainland Cheese advertisement from the 1980s.

The ad was filmed outside the Mahinapua Hotel on the West Coast in 1985. In it, some of the locals have come down to the pub to “put in a good word for the local vintage.” They’re silently leaning on a truck in the background and the narrator tells us that he’s “never seen them so excited.”

Richard told us that his uncle, George Gillingham, happened to be one of the old timers in the background, leaning on the truck outside the pub. On the day of the filming George and some mates had just returned from whitebaiting, when they were approached by the film crew to help out with the film shoot.

Richards says his uncle was a born and bred West Coaster who, in the 1930s, felled bush to create a farm just south of Harihari (South Westland). When he retired from farming, he was the caretaker at Hokitika High School, admired and remembered by many. He also like to write poetry and the odd bit of prose.

Richard recalls that his Uncle George used to airmail whitebait to his family in the Hutt (Epuni), and “could you believe that we ate so much, we nearly got sick of them!”

The advertisement is now on our online catalogue – you can watch it here.

 

This is just one amongst tens of thousands of television advertisements held in the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, dating back to the birth of commercial TV in New Zealand in 1961. We’re currently working on an online exhibition that will showcase more advertising gems from our country’s television and radio history – this will launch later in 2017, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for the announcement.

 

Thank you to Richard Poole for sharing this story. We hope you and your family have enjoyed seeing this ad with your Uncle George again.

LyttletonFeature

Bringing Lyttelton’s Past to Life

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

Historic figures from Lyttelton’s past have been brought to life in a new exhibition of 23 compelling portraits, accompanied by archival sound recordings from the RNZ collection at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

 Artist Julia Holden used current Lyttelton residents as models for the portraits – first creating the costumes, hats, wigs and (on occasion) clay, for the hair, before painting directly over everything with house paint, then photographing the results. You can listen to Julia talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about the project here. 

 

The Nurse: Nona Hildyard (Laura MacKay) – on display at Lyttelton Health Centre
The Nurse: Nona Hildyard (Laura MacKay) – on display at Lyttelton Health Centre

 

The finished photo portraits are then hung in various locations around Lyttelton, which relate to either the subject or the sitter. The port town’s museum was destroyed in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and the project, which is called Lyttelton Redux, aims to help the museum maintain visibility in the community while it operates without a physical building or exhibition space.

A map and audio walking tour of all the portrait locations are available until the end of March 2017 via a free app.

By downloading the app you can listen to the sound recordings and view each of the portraits, making the exhibition accessible to everyone, even if you can’t make it to Lyttelton.

As well as archival audio relating to the historical figure (courtesy of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) all of the modern-day sitters also contributed recordings, including members of Lyttelton’s well-known music community.

 

The Sheep Stealer: James McKenzie (Adam McGrath) – on display at Lyttelton Police Station
The Sheep Stealer: James McKenzie (Adam McGrath) – on display at Lyttelton Police Station

 

Excerpt from The Romance of Lyttelton (1953, ref. 159065) Continue reading

ChineseNewYearFeature

Firecrackers and Feasts – Chinese New Year in 19th Century Central Otago

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

It’s the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar and lunar New Year festivities are being held around the country as the Chinese community celebrates. Thousands of non-Chinese Kiwis join in with these events, going to lantern festivals, watching fireworks and enjoying Chinese food throughout the month of February.

 

Chinese gold miners, and Reverend George Hunter McNeur, at Carrick's Road, Potter's Gully, Nevis, Otago. Ref: 1/2-019155-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301091
Chinese gold miners, and Reverend George Hunter McNeur, at Carrick’s Road, Potter’s Gully, Nevis, Otago. Ref: 1/2-019155-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301091

 

We might tend to think multicultural events such as Chinese New Year are a recent development and part of the more cosmopolitan society we now enjoy in Aotearoa. However, recordings in the sound collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision show us that as far back as the gold-rush era of the 1870s and 1880s, Chinese communities were inviting their European neighbours to celebrate the New Year with them.

These are the oral history recordings made with elderly Central Otago residents in the late 1940s by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit. You can hear me talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about these recordings or read more and listen to them below.

The Mobile Unit recording truck visited communities all over Central in 1948 and carried out interviews in places such as Arrowtown, St Bathans, Naseby, Cromwell and Lawrence. It recorded memories from people who were aged in their 80s, so their recollections go back as far as the 1860s – and they had many stories of the gold-miners who flocked to the area  – especially the Chinese miners.

 

85 year old gold miner Kong Cong of Lawrence, who arrived at the diggings in 1862. "New Zealand Freelance," 27 May 1936. Ref: PAColl-5469-018. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23053398
85 year old gold miner Kong Cong of Lawrence, who arrived at the diggings in 1862. “New Zealand Freelance,” 27 May 1936. Ref: PAColl-5469-018. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23053398

 

Two Arrowtown women, Helen Ritchie and Ellen Dennison, remember the large meals the miners provided to mark events such as Chinese New Year.  Mrs Ritchie was born in 1863 in Invercargill and grew up on the Shotover and Nevis Rivers, where her father was a shepherd.

 

Helen Ritchie and Ellen Dennison speaking on Mobile Unit – Arrowtown History (1948, ref. 5727). You can listen to the full interview here.

 

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MaoriForBeginnersFeature

Māori for Beginners

- By Alexandra Porter (Audio Conservator, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) 

Tēnā koutou katoa
Ko Alexandra Porter tōku ingoa
Nō Ingarani me Kōtarania ōku tīpuna,
I whānau mai ahau i Īnia,
Kei Ōtautahi tōku kāinga ināianei

Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa
Nō reira, he waka eke noa
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa

Born in India from English and Scottish parents, I emigrated from Ingarani (England) at the age of 20 and apart from a couple of years in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (Gisborne) and Ōtepoti  (Dunedin) have settled largely in Ōtautahi (Christchurch). I consider Aotearoa home; it is where my son was born (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu) and where I have been growing roots for the best part of 23 years. It is with a degree of embarrassment then when I admit te reo Māori had been on my list of things to do for far too long.

Fortunately my challenging but inspiring journey of te reo began in March 2016 when support from work and a window in the evening schedule allowed; challenging because my brain is not a great receptor between 6.30-8.30pm, and inspiring because it opened up te ao Māori and has served to strengthen family ties. My son continues to learn te reo at school and takes great satisfaction from correcting my whakahua (pronunciation) and testing me on my mahi kāinga (home work) which I am grateful for, as teenage years advance and the general urge to kōrero with parents can diminish.

In Ōtautahi te reo Māori and tikanga has been something I personally associated mostly with formal or bicultural occasions, scattered within extended whānau gatherings or at work, limited to the beginning and ending of email correspondence. However, one has to start somewhere, and only in daily use have I found any new language sticks. Therefore (thanks to colleague and fellow te reo student, Sarah Johnston) my workplace and home are now covered in pieces of paper to assist this slow process of neuro-linguistic embedding.

Our wonderful kaiako (teacher) and talented kaiwaiata (singer) Antoinette Koko (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu) has introduced us to a variety of traditional karakia (prayer) and waiata (song) as part of the curriculum, the latter to which I was initially resistant as singing in any capacity is not my thing. Timely choral bursts do, however, serve to expand her class’ attention span whilst lifting spirits and confidence (it’s a good trick). So when, following the end of the term last year, a friend played me The Alphabet Song from a 1972 vinyl LP produced by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation I was eager to both share and find out who else had come across it.

A recent and proud addition to his vinyl record collection, the LP titled MAORI for BEGINNERS* by Professor Biggs [1.] (LP cover featured below) was purchased from a Christchurch second-hand store for just a few dollars. The spellbinding first track immediately seized my attention as its melodious vocal pattern of letters was unique to anything I’d heard before.

 

MAORI for BEGINNERS (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1972).
MAORI for BEGINNERS (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1972).

 

Back at work a search in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s collections database revealed that we had a copy on DAT (Digital Audio Tape), taken from an LP of the same name produced in 1972 – but no original vinyl disc was present in the archive. DATs are high on all sound archive preservation agendas as the format (largely from the late 1980s-early 2000s), developed for storing and backing up data onto magnetic tape, is unfortunately rapidly deteriorating. Now however, following its digitisation, this taonga is available to listen to in its entirety on our online catalogue. Continue reading