Category Archives: Sound

Women's Suffrage 1893 Cartoon from the New Zealand Graphic and Ladies’ Journal, 1894 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

“It was quite an exciting time!” –  election recollections by first-time women voters of 1893.

Suffrage_banner_cartoonBy Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

With the general election looming and the 124th anniversary of New Zealand women’s suffrage celebrated on Tuesday, this week seemed a good time to highlight first-hand accounts of this key moment in Aotearoa’s history, held in our sound archives.

You can listen to excerpts from these recordings in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s regular slot with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan here, or read more and find links to hear the full recordings below.

In 1968, Hilda Lovell-Smith of Christchurch was interviewed for radio about her memories of her mother Jennie, who was a close friend of Kate Sheppard and campaigned alongside her to get signatures on the suffrage petition. This was eventually presented to Parliament with 32,000 signatures in 1893.   Hilda was also a life-long campaigner for women’s rights. She was known as “Kitty”, after being given her middle name “Kate”,  as a tribute Kate Sheppard.  In this excerpt, she recalls her mother’s campaigning in rural Canterbury in the late 1890s.

Hilda Lovell-Smith in [Women’s Franchise] 1968 Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID282401

Kate Sheppard
Kate Sheppard, 1905 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Although Hilda Lovell-Smith was too young to vote in 1893, we have other recordings with women who did take part in the historic event.  1968 was the 75th anniversary of New Zealand women getting the vote and in Auckland, three elderly women took part in a group interview for radio about their memories of that election.

Mrs Dickson, who was 101 at the time of the interview, grew up at Parewanui, near Bulls in Rangitikei and peppers her lively recollections with a delightful chuckle.

Mrs Dickson in [Women’s Enfranchisement – Voters of 1893] Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID156726

Like her fellow interviewees, Mrs Dickson remembers how the temperance movement and the fight for women’s suffrage went hand-in-hand.  Temperance campaigners who were keen to see prohibition of alcohol, knew many women would likely support them if they were able to vote.

Small boy in hat
Temperance campaign postcard, 1908 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Many New Zealand suffragists, such as Kate Sheppard, were members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, pushing for greater control of liquor sales, if not outright prohibition.  Another woman voter in the 1968 recording is Mrs Manktelow.  She explains how the Methodist Church (or Wesleyans, as they were known at the time) also worked for suffrage.

Mrs Manktelow in [Women’s Enfranchisement – Voters of 1893] Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID156726

Mrs Manktelow recalled the forces opposing women getting the vote included the Premier (Prime Minister) of the day, Richard Seddon.  He had the backing of the liquor lobby and had campaigned hard against women voting, on their behalf.

While many women voters of 1893 undoubtedly did support Prohibition, which came close to passing several times, it never quite got the majority required to ban alcohol nationally.  But closure of all hotels was one of the many predicted consequences raised by opponents of women getting the vote.

In a radio broadcast made in the 1950s about the status of women, another voter of 1893 Helen Wilson, recalled the wild predictions about the effects of women voting: either national peace and harmony and elimination of corruption  - or victory for handsome political candidates only!

Helen Wilson in The Status of Women  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID32941

Helen Wilson also signed Kate Sheppard’s suffrage petition, although she was quite conservative politically.  She became involved in rural politics and later rose to become the president of the newly formed Women’s Division of Federated Farmers.  You can hear more about her life and views in the full radio programme, at the link above.

Feature cartoon from the New Zealand Graphic and Ladies’ Journal, 1894 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Swill_Feat2

The last days of the ‘6 o’clock swill’

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

White family play with toys
Vote 6 o’clock closing! It means fewer bad debts, more money for family comforts, happier home life. [1948-1949].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-03. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22558587
 

New Zealand’s infamous hour of binge-drinking,  known as the ‘6 o’clock swill’, finally came to an end 50 years ago this October.

Recordings held in the sound archives of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision tell us more about this unique approach to alcohol licensing,  which was introduced during World War I  - but endured for a further 50 years. You can hear Sarah Johnston talk to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about these recordings,  or read more and find links to the full recordings below.

The ’6 o’clock swill’ was the common name for the hour in which most New Zealand workers had to fit in all their drinking,  between finishing work at 5pm and the pub doors closing at 6pm. This was the licensing law from December 1917 until the law was repealed in October 1967. It meant crowded, noisy bars full of (mostly) men, hurrying to get as many beers in as they could,  before “Time please, gentlemen!” was called at 5.45 and they were turned out onto the street at 6pm sharp.

The law forcing hotels to stop serving alcohol at 6pm was introduced during World War I. There was a strong Temperance movement in New Zealand from the late 19th century onwards, with many people – especially women, pushing for total prohibition on the sale of alcohol, after seeing the effect unregulated drinking had on colonial society.

His_little_bit_cartoon
Auckland Observer, 23 June 1917 (courtesy Papers Past)

Several Prohibition referendums were held and came very close to passing. Campaigners cited ‘the war effort’ as yet another reason why alcohol sales should be limited, arguing that sober workers would be able to produce more and concentrate the country’s energies on winning the conflict.  The move to introduce 6 o’clock closing for bars in 1917 was a compromise by the government, to appease the groups pushing for Prohibition, but not shut down the liquor industry altogether.

Soldiers returning from the war however, were not impressed to see what had been done to drinking laws in their absence, as veteran Jack Archibald of Nelson recalled this excerpt from a radio interview.

Excerpt from J. Archibald on resettlement in New Zealand after World War I 1966. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID 238019

But the war-time measure became permanent and enjoyed some degree of popularity, remaining largely unchallenged through the 1920s, the Depression and World War II.  A referendum on whether to abolish early closing was held in 1949 – but nearly two-thirds of voters voted to keep 6 o’clock closing in place. Those in favour argued that it meant men went home to their families after work, rather than spending their time – and their family’s income – in hotels, as these advertisements from the referendum campaign illustrate.

Happiness depends on the home! Help preserve family harmony. Vote 6 o'clock closing. [ca 1948].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23085171
Happiness depends on the home! Help preserve family harmony. Vote 6 o’clock closing. [ca 1948].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23085171
 

But in the 1950s, opinion began to sway.  A radio documentary from 1958 in our archives, attempted a broad survey of New Zealand public opinion on liquor licensing laws and whether 6 o’clock closing should remain. It contains “vox pops” (short, opinionated sound-bites) from all over the country, which show the wide range of views – from religious people who believed all alcohol was a sin, to the man at the start of this excerpt who says the 6 o’clock closing regime is “keeping New Zealand in the Dark Ages.”

Excerpt from The Licensing Laws: a survey of public opinion, 1958. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID37548 (You can listen to the full 30-minute programme at the link)

Many New Zealanders in the documentary express concern about the high level of drunkenness among bar patrons who are forced out onto the street when pub doors shut at 6pm, after drinking as much as they can in a short space of time.  They talk of a desire for more leisurely drinking – and for hotels to be a more pleasant environment where “a man can take his wife” – the jostling, beer-soaked ‘6 o’clock swill’ being seen as no place for a woman!

By the late 1950s New Zealand was becoming more cosmopolitan, with post-war migrants arriving from places like The Netherlands with a far more relaxed approach to alcohol. Restaurants were becoming more common and interviewees in the programme ask why they should not be able to enjoy a glass of wine with their meal?  Overseas tourists too were increasing in numbers – and presumably were baffled by our strange regulations around drinking.

The pressure for reform continued into the 1960s.  The start of jet air travel meant more tourism and more Kiwis now experiencing drinking cultures overseas. Popular singer-songwriter and satirist Rod Derrett recorded some biting social commentary with his song “The 6 o’Clock Swill”, which was on the B-side of his best-selling EP “Rugby, Racing and Beer.”

Excerpt from ‘6 O’Clock Swill’ – from Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077

The song ends with the words:

“Kiwis won’t alter their habits until
We throw out New Zealand’s completely chaotic,
Antiquated, barbaric
Six o’clock swill!”

This condemnation of the licensing laws was apparently too vociferous and political for the Broadcasting Corporation of the day, who banned this track from being played on the radio.  The original copy we hold in our sound archives has “Banned” and “Prohibited” stamped across the cover – and the disc itself has been scratched and scored with a yellow chinagraph pencil, just in case any rebel announcer was tempted to try and play the offensive song!(Fortunately, we also acquired an undamaged copy.)

Hs_masters_voice

Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070 – showing ‘PROHIBITED’ stamp and yellow scoring and deliberate scratching to prevent playing the track “6 O’Clock Swill.”  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077
Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070 – showing ‘PROHIBITED’ stamp and yellow scoring and deliberate scratching to prevent playing the track “6 O’Clock Swill.”  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077

Two years after this song was released another referendum was held, in September 1967.  This time the majority vote was to extend licensing hours until 10pm and the 6 o’clock swill passed into the history books.

 

Plunket-Feature-Image

Happy Birthday Plunket !

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision)

The Plunket Society turned 110 years old this month.  One of New Zealand’s most famous institutions,  “The Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children” was founded at a public meeting in Dunedin in May 1907 by Dr Frederic Truby King.

It was re-named The Plunket Society after one of its early supporters, Lady Plunket, the wife of the governor-general at the time.

 You can hear Sarah Johnston from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about recordings about Plunket here or read more and listen to the full recordings at the links below.

Truby King and Madelaine
Andrew, Stanley Polkinghorne, 1878-1964. Truby King and Madelaine. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 8. Ref: PAColl-6075-16. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23127422

Kate Challis Hooper trained as an early Karitane nurse at Truby King’s first hospital at Anderson’s Bay near Dunedin in 1915.  In this interview from 1961 she vividly describes the rather spartan conditions for nurses and babies, but also her enthusiasm for Dr King’s work, “helping mothers and saving babies.”

Kate Challis Hooper recalls the early days (1961, Ref. 2074) Listen to complete item here.

It seems nowhere was too remote for Plunket.  Mrs Beryl Sutherland, who raised her family near Milford Sound in the 1930s (as her husband worked on building the Homer Tunnel),  recalls getting a welcome visit from Plunket in her remote location.

Life at the Homer Tunnel during the 1930s (1970, Ref 2083) Listen to complete item here.

In 1952, the magazine programme, “Radio Digest” visited Plunket’s  Karitane Hospital at Melrose in Wellington to mark it’s 25th anniversary and broadcaster David Kohn interviewed nurses as well as a resident mother, who had been enjoying Plunket’s care so much she was reluctant to go home!

Radio Digest No. 149 (1952, Ref 2087) Listen to complete item here.

Plunket Book cover 1937
Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children :”Plunket Society”. Baby record; Plunket nurse’s advice to mothers. “To help the mothers and save the babies” [Front cover. 1936]. Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children :”Plunket Society” Baby record; Plunket nurse’s advice to mothers. “To help the mothers and save the babies” [Printed by] C S W Dunedin. O6979 – 9/36 [1936]. Ref: Eph-A-CHILD-1936-01-front. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23078909

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.  

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
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.

 

Continue reading

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

WaitangiDayFeature

Historic Radio Reflections on Waitangi Day Through the Decades

To mark Waitangi Day we have uploaded some historic radio coverage of our national day to our online collections catalogue.

View of the verandah of the Treaty house, Waitangi, New Zealand, looking east across the grounds and including the meeting house. Photographed by Whites Aviation in 1947. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23157208
View of the verandah of the Treaty house, Waitangi, New Zealand, looking east across the grounds and including the meeting house. Photographed by Whites Aviation in 1947. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23157208 

 

You can listen to our Client Services Co-ordinator Sarah Johnston talking about the 1963 celebrations at Waitangi with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan here. That year was marked by the presence of Her Majesty the Queen (who landed at Waitangi for her second tour of New Zealand on 6 February) and by a speech by Sir Turi Carroll (Ngāti Kahungunu), President of the New Zealand Māori Council, calling on the government to recognise the Treaty in law and make the day a public holiday – it didn’t become a public holiday until 1974.

The first protests at Waitangi can be heard in New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation radio recordings made at the 1971 commemorations. That year, the newly-formed action group Ngā Tamatoa appeared at the Treaty Grounds, and gave voice to the concerns of a younger generation of Māori. Two Māori radio programmes and two documentaries about the 1971 protests can all be heard here, on our online catalogue.

Ngā Tamatoa’s actions meant the media was forced to examine Māori grievances around the Treaty more closely and radio programmes like these represent the start of greater consideration by the national broadcaster about the Treaty and its implications for modern-day New Zealand.

Prior to this, there is not a lot of archived coverage of Waitangi Day itself – and what there is seems to strongly focus on the 1840 Treaty signing as an historic event, something that belonged in our past. 

One outstanding exception to this was Sir Apirana Ngata’s famous speech at the 1940 Treaty Centennial celebrations, in which he clearly told Pākēha about ongoing Māori concerns at the way the Treaty had been disregarded in the intervening 100 years.

Photograph of Apirana Ngata taking the lead in a haka on Waitangi Day at the centennial celebrations at Waitangi, taken by Bert Snowden  http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22311984
Photograph of Apirana Ngata taking the lead in a haka on Waitangi Day at the centennial celebrations at Waitangi, taken by Bert Snowden http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22311984

 

Maori Battalion feature

Celebrating Christmas in the Desert, 1942

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

Silent Night – Tapu te Po (Christmas at NZ General Hospital, 1942, ref. 17321)

 

A recording of the carol “Silent Night” or “Tapu te Po,” sung in te reo Māori and English by men of the 28th Māori Battalion in North Africa in 1942, is one of the many Christmas taonga held in the Sound collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

It is part of a series of recordings made by the National Broadcasting Service’s Mobile Recording Unit, in a New Zealand military hospital.  The men singing on the recording had been wounded in the Battle of El Alamein in October and November 1942, and were gathered together by Nurse Wiki Katene (Ngāti Toa) of Porirua, to make the recording which would be broadcast back in New Zealand at Christmas. Continue reading