Tag Archives: Auckland

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.  

USS Shaw exploding Pearl Harbor 07 Dec 1941 [public domain image - Wikimedia Commons]

“A Date that will Live in Infamy” – The 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

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

A “date that will live in infamy” is how United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt described the 7th of December 1941. This week sees the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The attack brought the United States into World War II and brought the war to the Pacific and New Zealand’s back yard.


Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the attack [Public domain image - Wikimedia Commons]
Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the attack [public domain image - Wikimedia Commons]


You can hear me talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about recordings from the sound archives of Nga Taonga Sound & Vision about this historic event here – or you can read more here and listen to the recordings in full at the links below. 

At the time of the bombing the United States and Japan were actively in peace talks over Japan’s war with China, with Japanese officials in Washington D.C. for negotiations. However, it soon became clear that this air attack had been carefully planned for months, so the outrage felt by the American public at the Japanese deception was immense.  

The day after the attack, President Roosevelt addressed the United States Congress and the American people in this historic radio broadcast. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision holds a recording made in Wellington at the time, from the shortwave radio broadcast, but this version supplied later – directly from the United States – is better quality audio.


President Franklin Roosevelt declares the United States is at war with Japan, 8 Dec 1941 (ref. 151134)


USS Arizona burning after the attack [public domain image - Wikimedia Commons]
USS Arizona burning after the attack [public domain image - Wikimedia Commons]


The following recording on this compilation tape,  is an eye witness account by a US Air Force serviceman, Lieutenant Wallace, who was at Hickham Field airforce base next door to Pearl Harbor. He describes his very brief experience of active warfare.


Pearl Harbor recollection by a US serviceman (ref. 151134)


Another eye witness account of the attack – this time from a civilian perspective – was recorded here in New Zealand a couple of months later, in early 1942, by Thomas Matthews. He was an Englishman, a violinist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He was onboard a passenger ship sailing into Honolulu on the fateful morning, on his way to take up a new role in Singapore (which was still a British colony). As he explained to New Zealand radio listeners, at first he and the rest of the passengers thought they were watching military manoeuvres. Continue reading

Commercial radio feature

Happy Birthday NZ Commercial Radio!

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


This Saturday is the 80th anniversary of national commercial radio in New Zealand, which started with station 1ZB Auckland on 29 October 1936.  Radio had been operating in New Zealand since the 1920s, but advertising was generally not allowed and stations were mostly financed via a licence fee paid by listeners, or via sponsorship from a related business, such as a music retailer. 1ZB had been broadcasting in Auckland for several years already as a private station, owned by Methodist minister Reverend Colin Scrimgeour. 


Aunt Daisy (Maud Ruby Basham), a darling of NZ commercial radio (image: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).
Aunt Daisy (Maud Ruby Basham), a darling of NZ commercial radio (image: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).


In 1936 the first Labour government under Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage bought 1ZB and re-opened it as the first station of the government-owned National Commercial Broadcasting Service. 2ZB, 3ZB and 4ZB followed in quick succession, bringing commercial broadcasting to Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Former 1ZB owner, Rev. Scrimgeour – or “Uncle Scrim” – was appointed as head of the new service.

Announcers such as Maud Basham, the legendary “Aunt Daisy,” became firm listener favourites on the commercial network, with her chatty programme of infomercials, recipes and household hints, along with new features such as sponsored radio serials, quiz shows, hit parades, sports commentary and talent quests – all paid for by advertising. The commercial network also hired Māori broadcasters in each centre: Uramo Paora “Lou Paul” in Auckland, Kingi Tahiwi in Wellington, Te Ari Pitama and Airini Grenell in Christchurch and Dunedin.

The government soon discovered commercial radio was a great income earner. In the first year of operation, the four commercial stations made a profit of 10,000 pounds.  After World War II, income from the commercial network was used to establish the National Orchestra – later the NZSO.

The commercial network grew to include regional and provincial stations and ran side by side with the non-commercial network as part of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service (and various later incarnations such as the N.Z.B.C. and Radio New Zealand), until it was sold off by the government in 1996. The ZB stations became part of The Radio Network – and are better known today as NewstalkZB.

You can hear what 1930s commercial radio sounded like in this 1961 documentary.

JeanBatten feature

“This is Without Doubt the Very Greatest Moment of My Life” – Jean Batten’s Record-Breaking Flight

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

Eighty years ago today New Zealander Jean Batten became the first person to fly from Britain to New Zealand. Her arrival at Auckland’s Mangere Aerodrome in her Percival Gull aeroplane was captured by radio station 1YA in a series of remarkable live broadcast recordings held in the RNZ historic collection at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.


Jean Gardner Batten. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-046051-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22671195
Jean Gardner Batten. “New Zealand Free Lance” : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-046051-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22671195


Jean was already famous for her successful solo flights from England to Australia in May 1934, and to South America in November 1935, so a large crowd had gathered to welcome her. The unidentified radio announcer describes the approach of her plane, with sightings already reported by observers in New Plymouth, Mokau and Kaipara as she approached Auckland from Sydney. The journey had started in Folkestone, England on the 5th of October and she had already broken the previous UK-Australia record by arriving in Sydney one week later.

The audio, which was captured on a series of 12-inch acetate discs, is faint and crackly and almost inaudible in places. Considering the National Broadcasting Service had only acquired disc-recording equipment the previous year, it would have been quite a technical feat to record the commentary and welcome as they were broadcast live “on relay” from the aerodrome.

  Continue reading


Moving Pictures Arrive in New Zealand

120 years ago, on 13 October 1896, New Zealanders first got their chance to see moving pictures, when the first film was played to an audience at the Opera House in Auckland. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is marking this anniversary with a series of screenings of a selection of Films that Shaped New Zealand in Wellington over the next 10 days – and we will be preceding each of these screenings by showing either Sandow the Strong Man or The Serpentine Dance before each feature. These were two of the first films ever watched by New Zealand audiences back in 1896.


Eugen Sandow in the film Sandow the Strongman (Edison Studios, 1894, directed by William K.L. Dickson).


The inaugural screening of moving pictures in New Zealand was as part of a vaudeville programme by Charles Godfrey’s Vaudeville Company.  The “kinematograph” screenings were part of the show’s line-up, along with singers and musical items. After the first performances in Auckland, the show moved to Thames, Paeroa and Wellington later in October 1896, before further screenings in Christchurch and Dunedin in November that year.


A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, "New Zealand Herald," 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)
A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, “New Zealand Herald,” 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)


Annabelle Whitford in the film The Serpentine Dance (Edison Manufacturing Co., 1895, directed by William K.L. Dickson and William Heise)


Continue reading


Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

Māori Language Week began officially in 1975 and radio was involved right from the start in promoting the week and the use of te reo Māori. In the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision we have programmes broadcast during those first years, in both English and te reo. They feature interviews with many of the promoters of the week, such as the members of the Te Reo Māori Society – who were instrumental in getting the language officially recognised and were behind the drive to get more Māori heard on our airwaves and TV screens.

Here you can listen to interviews in te reo from 1975, with Rawiri Rangitauira (Ngāti Whakaue) and Hakopa Te Whata (Ngāpuhi) or listen to interviews from 1976, with  Whaimutu Dewes (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangitihi ) and Tamati Kruger (Ngāi Tūhoe).

In 1975,  there were no kura kaupapa Māori and the ground-breaking kōhanga reo movement had not yet started. So Windy Ridge Primary School on Auckland’s North shore was unusual in that it was teaching students te reo, which had been introduced to the curriculum in 1974. RNZ’s Māori programmes producer Haare Williams went to the school and recorded programmes for that first Māori Language Week in 1975:

“Māori Programmes” / “Te Puna Wai Kōrero,” September 1975 

You can listen to the full programmes online, in English here, or listen to them in te reo Māori here.

By 1978 there was growing concern that there were not enough teachers being trained to teach te reo and meet the demand from schools. Here you can listen to a radio programme in English featuring an interview with John Rangihau (Ngāi Tūhoe), about the training of Māori language teachers and the place of te reo in New Zealand society.

Listening to archived radio news coverage,  we can see that progress promoting use of te reo met with some resistance in Pākehā New Zealand through the 1980s.  Here is coverage from “Morning Report” in 1984, about the official outcry when a Post Office Tolls operator Naida Povey of Ngāti Whātua (now Naida Glavish, President of the Māori Party) started greeting callers with “Kia ora”:

“Morning Report,” 23 May 1984

Today, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision archives a multitude of programmes in te reo Māori every day, broadcast by  iwi radio stations around the country, as well as television productions from Māori Television. From our historic radio collection this item from 1964 still remains a perennial favourite with both Māori and Pākehā.  It is a radio advertisement from 1964 for the soap powder “Rinso.”  It was produced for an episode of the radio quiz show “It’s in the Bag” hosted by Selwyn Toogood. This episode was broadcast from Northland, where there would still have been a large te reo Māori-speaking population in 1964:

Radio commercial for Rinso performed in Māori, 1964

Reckitt and Colman New Zealand : [Rinso packet. 1950s?]. Ref: Eph-F-PACKAGING-1950s-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23206427

Feature image:

March on Parliament in support of the Maori Language. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1980/2470/20A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22342091

Esme Stephens.

All the Hits and More – Part 2

Broadcaster and historian Peter Downes wrote to us in response to a recent blog entry about the history of popular music charts in New Zealand, with this fascinating behind-the-scenes background on music hits shows in New Zealand during the 1950s.

Peter Downes.
Peter Downes (courtesy of Peter Downes / Dave Smith).


I was pleased to see you’ve included the N.Z. Hit Parade (1952) on your blog.

It so happens that this was yet another of my “babies” and I thought you might like to have some background to it. In those days, apart from some radio drama, New Zealand Broadcasting Service producers were not allowed to be credited.

In the early 1950s most of the so-called “local” radio stations, that is those with a YX call sign, were running their own Hit Parades, with results taken from sales in their town’s record shops. I was a producer at 2YA in Wellington, and it occurred to me that if these results could be combined we would have a near enough to true measure of the most popular songs in New Zealand for that week. In fact it would create a N.Z. Hit Parade. My boss was enthusiastic, and the stations thought it was a good idea and willingly co-operated by sending me their weekly “charts.”

This was in contrast to commercial radio’s Lifebuoy Hit Parade, whose results were based mainly on charts in Billboard (USA) and later in The New Musical Express (UK). The Lifebuoy show was presented by 2ZB’s Rex Walden (pictured in the window display), who had a deep, dark chocolatey BBC type voice.

An advert in a shop window for the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, 1946 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).
An advert in a shop window for the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, 1946 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).


Rex Walden introducing the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, c.1946


We couldn’t hope, nor did we try, to compete with the Lifebuoy show, but we had the advantage of being able to include songs recorded by New Zealand performers when they became bestsellers here but who would never have made the overseas charts.

Esme Stephens.
Esme Stephens (photo courtesy of AudioCulture).

An outstanding example of this was Between Two Trees, in the number two position for the year 1952. This American song had been recorded by the Andrews Sisters in the USA, but was only a minor success. However, a cover version recorded for the New Zealand Stebbing Recording label by Auckland singer Esme Stephens went viral (as they say) in her homeland. It reportedly sold well over 7,000 copies – quite remarkable for that time. It was accompanied by “the guitars of Buddy Kane”.


“Between Two Trees,” by Esme Stephens, courtesy of Stebbing Recording. A large back catalogue of early New Zealand recordings has been remastered and is available on the Stebbing Recording website. Continue reading


“Khal” Exhibition Opening Peformances

- By Paula Booker (Programme Developer, Auckland)

Khal, an ongoing project begun by Helga Fassonaki in Tabriz, Iran, is currently being exhibited at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Auckland.

Fassonaki sent sixteen sculptural scores abroad, for sixteen female artists to interpret and perform publicly in response to a ban on female solo performances in Iran. Three Auckland artists then re-interpreted the scores in performances at the Khal exhibition opening on November 18.

The evening’s performances were:

  • 8 Pillars, originally received by Rachel Shearer and Ducklingmonster, performed live at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision by Piece War / Live Visuals by Cutss 
  • Hypocrisy, originally received by Angeline Chirnside, performed live at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision by Hermione Johnson and Zahra Killeen Chance 
  • Hum Hum Hum Hum Hum, originally received by Purple Pilgrims, performed live at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision by  Liz Maw
“Hypocrisy,” performed by Hermione Johnson and Zahra Killeen Chance.


“Hypocrisy,” performed by Hermione Johnson and Zahra Killeen Chance.


Guitar set up ready for Piece War, in front of “8 Pillars” video projection.


Continue reading

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: Chatting with Anjalee the Elephant

Auckland Zoo’s elephant team leader Andrew Coers talks to Justin Gregory about how he communicates with Anjalee, an eight-year-old female elephant destined for Auckland Zoo (Spectrum, 31 May 2015, Radio New Zealand National). Anjalee came from an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka and is currently having a 90-day quarantine stopover in Niue (she’s the first ever elephant on the island).

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

Listen to the full feature 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.