Tag Archives: sound preservation

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Audio Curios: “Beautifully Built with a Fine Fend and Elusive Side Step”

- By Gareth Watkins (Radio Collection Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision recently acquired an interview recorded in 1938/39 with All Black Trevor Berghan. The discs came from Trevor’s daughter Penelope Hansen and were recorded after the 1938 All Black tour of Australia.

 

The scene on the Queens Wharf last night when the Wanganella, with the All Black Rugby team to tour Australia on board, left for Sydney, (Evening Post, 08 July 1938). Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/18982283
The scene on the Queens Wharf last night when the Wanganella, with the All Black Rugby team to tour Australia on board, left for Sydney, (Evening Post, 08 July 1938). Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/18982283

 

Before the discs were deposited, I did some research and found that Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision already had some early recordings from that same tour in the collection – namely a short interview with the Australian and New Zealand Captains and the last 10-or-so minutes of the 2nd Test.

In this first audio excerpt All Black Captain Neville “Brushy” Mitchell and the Australian Captain Vay[ro] Wilson talk on the eve of the 2nd Test.

 

All Blacks vs Australia, 5 August 1938 (New Zealand Broadcasting Service)

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Peter Downes: Early Radio Recordings and Archiving in Aotearoa New Zealand

Peter Downes has had a long and distinguished association with broadcasting and sound archiving in Aotearoa. In this presentation he charts the beginnings of radio recording and archiving in this country, with personal reflections (he started in broadcasting in 1947) sprinkled with some fascinating audio excerpts dating back almost 100 years.

A very special thank you to Peter for allowing us to film his presentation and reproduce it online.

Read a transcript of Peter’s talk

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NZBS Mobile Unit Collection: Tahakopa Sawmill

Audio Conservator Alex Porter is currently working on a project to digitise and describe the New Zealand Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit Collection. The project will take the best part of the next year, during this time Alex and her colleague Camilla will listen to every part of the collection. In this blog post Alex shares interesting snippets of audio she has come across this week, recorded by the Mobile Unit at the Tahakopa timber mill, in the Catlins.

The Tahakopa Sawmill was located 10km from the township of Tahakopa, in the isolated bush of the Catlins District, Otago. Situated right at the end of the Catlins River branch railway line, specifically built to manage the logging industry, the Tahakopa timber mill was one of many mills felling red and black pine, tōtara, and kāmahi trees from both state and privately owned forestlands.

In this recording from November 1948, an unidentified New Zealand Broadcasting Service announcer introduces the mill and interviews Mr Ab Griffin, Manager of the Harg and Company Sawmill, Tahakopa:

 

This clip features an NZBS commentary – with sound effects – of a tree being felled, recorded on the same occasion:

 

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

 

Learn more about the New Zealand Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit and Alex and Camilla’s work with this collection here.

 

Audio excerpts from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of these items please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz

An Audio (Re)migration Project

- By Jim Hunia (Kaiwhakauka: Audio Conservator, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

 

Jim Hunia, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Auckland-based Kaiwhakauka: Audio Conservator, has recently completed an audio migration project, which he first started working on back in 1999. Because of changes in audio technologies available he has seen the project through two phases:  firstly migration of discs, reels and cassettes to CD, and later migration of digital files to server. So he is getting to know the material well! Changes in recording and storage technologies present both opportunities and challenges for audiovisual archivists, who for preservation purposes must work with multiple versions of a given title on different formats. He tells us about it below.

Jim checks out a tape.
Jim checks out a tape.

In 1999 I walked into my new workspace at Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (as the sound collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was then known), and what did I see? Rolling shelves, drawers, and boxes stacked with audio. Heaps and heaps of them. There were around twelve thousand audio objects waiting for my attention: reels, DATs (digital audio tapes), cassettes, and discs.

Boxes of blank CDRs started arriving to copy the audio onto, with marketing blurbs claiming “these will be good for two hundred years”… Yeah right!

Back in 1999 the only decent digital converter I had was inside my Sony DAT player/recorder. So… my process was to record the analog to DAT, and then copy to CDR. I had two DAT machines – so while one was recording, the previous was burning. I had my speakers split so I was listening to two different programmes at once – many in Te Reo – and it started to sound double Dutch to me.

My workspace at the time was down in a room facing the Radio Network carpark. There was only myself and car exhaust fumes – so no problems with annoying anyone with loud speakers. Actually, I’m still on my own with no one to annoy in my current office (I am the only Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision audio archivist based in Auckland), but at least there are no exhaust fumes now!

Eight years later, 10,000 bits of audio were now on 9,588 CDRs. But another five years later I started to notice that some of CDRs were no longer able to play back – and this was becoming more frequent. Surely 200 years are not up? Continue reading

The Day the Earth Moved Under Our Feet

- By Marie O’Connell (Audio Conservator, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

This piece was originally published in IASA journal issue 44, January 2015.

 

This article presents a personal account of a series of natural disasters — namely earthquakes — that my colleagues and I lived and worked through, and how those events affected our archive — Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (then Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero). In particular, I intend to describe the recovery and relocation process, and our experience of restoring order to the physical archive.

The Sequence of Events

I began working at Sound Archives Ngā  Taonga Kōrero — an archive predominantly focused on collecting and preserving New Zealand’s recorded radio heritage — in 1994. In 2002, I moved to the United States where I would spend five years preserving Civil Rights Era oral histories in Mississippi. When Hurricane Katrina struck the southern United States in August, 2005, I experienced my first encounter with a major disaster.

Clock stopped at the time of the September earthquake, after falling off the wall.
Clock stopped at the time of the September earthquake, after falling off the wall.

Hurricanes are destructive and traumatic, but they do not usually arrive unannounced; earthquakes come without a warning. There is no opportunity to prepare, nor can their magnitude or duration be predicated — this fact was made evident to me three years after I had returned to Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero, when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on September 4th, 2010, at 4.35am.

Like most people, I was woken when I was thrown out of my bed onto the floor, and — over the top of the earthquake’s rumble — I could hear the sound of things smashing in my house. Owing to the depth and distance of the earthquake’s epicentre, there were no fatalities, and our archive was more disheveled than damaged. When we returned to work after the events of that weekend, we discovered that many of our collections — consisting of open reel tapes, DATs, CD-Rs, cassettes, nitrocellulose discs, and documentation — had been ejected from their shelving. Our disaster plan did not prescribe a particular course of action, but common sense suggested that we should return our collections to their shelves and do what we could to secure them from ongoing aftershocks. On a very limited budget, John Kelcher — a fellow conservator — and I purchased cord and packing tape, which we secured over the front of each shelf as a temporary measure until proper earthquake bracing could be installed. Amazingly, this stopgap solution protected some items throughout the sizeable aftershocks that would continue to rock us over the next four months. On February 22, at 12.51pm, however, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch. It was shallow, relatively close to the centre of the city, and profoundly destructive. Due to building collapse and falling masonry, 185 people would lose their lives.

Graph of the 22 February 2011 earthquake.
Graph of the 22 February 2011 earthquake.

I was just leaving the restroom when the earthquake hit. The force knocked me to the floor, and I could only watch as a solid wall cracked open in front of my eyes. The multi-story building that housed the archive was compromised, but still standing; however, the Methodist Church opposite our building collapsed immediately. The city centre was evacuated, and our building was immediately cordoned within a perimeter known as the ‘Red Zone’ — an area in which civilian access was forbidden. Uniformed army personnel secured every point of thoroughfare through this zone. Continue reading

Intriguing Audio Mystery

Our Digital Transfer Operator Sandy Ditchburn came across an enigmatic audio recording this week.

Sandy and the rest of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision sound archivists have been working on a project to digitise our valuable audio heritage. One of the discs she came across in her digitisation work was a mysterious one, with minimal descriptive labelling, containing this recording:

[Archival audio from the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz]
The mystery disc.
The mystery disc.

One of our preservationists suggested that it may have come from the Pitcairn Islands. Or is this avant-garde band?

Can you help us solve the mystery? If you can shed any light on this recording, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact news@ngataonga.org.nz

This disc is part of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision D-Series, which is an assortment of over 10,000 audio disc recordings spanning 1935-1958. Amongst the recordings in the D-Series are wartime radio newsreels, election addresses, current events programmes, and numerous recordings of music by New Zealand composers, including early broadcasts by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

 

New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 Collection

The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, recorded by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service’s Mobile Unit, was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand Register of Documentary Heritage at a ceremony in Christchurch yesterday. A number of our Christchurch-based staff were excited to be there for the festivities.

Karen Neill (Head of Partnerships, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) speaks at the ceremony for the inscription.
Karen Neill (Head of Partnerships, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) speaks at the ceremony for the inscription. [Ceremony images by Marie O'Connell]

The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection is a unique assemblage of broadcast oral histories recorded by the Mobile Unit around regional New Zealand after World War II. The recordings include accounts of New Zealand life as far back as the 1850s. The collection is now cared for by our sound archiving team in Christchurch.

Along with the The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, A Korao no New Zealand (or The New Zealander’s first book, held at the Auckland Museum), and Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s Church Missionary Society Records (1808 - c.1900, held at the Hocken Library) were at listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register.
Along with the The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, A Korao no New Zealand (or The New Zealander’s first book, held at the Auckland Museum), and Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s Church Missionary Society Records (1808 – c.1900, held at the Hocken Library) were at listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register. In this photo representatives from the three organisations receive their awards. The central figure is Sir Tipene O’Regan.

Sir Tipene O’Regan, chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board, was guest speaker at the inscription ceremony. He explained how the Mobile Unit recordings, such as those made in 1948 of the Karitane Māori choir, evoke powerful memories of whānau and iwi connections.

Presentation on the New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection at the inscription ceremony.
Presentation on the New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection at the inscription ceremony.

Among other memories recalled in the recordings are: the Taranaki Wars, the early days of the frozen meat trade, the first thistle and first rabbits seen in Otago, the Chinese miners’ use of opium, the first bicycle – which frightened horses – and the coming of electric power. Continue reading

Accession 02/030/273

- By Marie O’Connell (SANTK Preservation Archivist)

The Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero acquired this accession in 2002 and it makes up part of the Bill Beavis Collection.

What is unique about this is that it is made up of two completely different formats of analogue media – one being rare Sound Mirror paper tape developed in 1946, and the other being two lacquer discs from 1940. It is possible that Bill Beavis himself engineered this crude but very ‘kiwi’ open reel tape as he was unable to acquire an actual 10.5 inch reel.

Image: Marie O'Connell.
Image: Marie O’Connell.

 

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SANTK Staff on Life Post-Earthquakes

This Saturday will be the three-year anniversary of the February 22, 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero main office was forced to move to new premises following the earthquake, where they remain today. SANTK Preservation Archivists John Kelcher and Marie O’Connell tell us about the effects of the earthquakes on their work and the post-quake recovery efforts.

Photo by John Kelcher.

Photo by John Kelcher.
Photo by John Kelcher.

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Interview with John Kelcher, SANTK Preservation Archivist

Gareth Watkins (SANKT Accessions Archivist) interviews John Kelcher (SANTK Preservation Archivist) about his work for Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero, in Christchurch – where he has been employed for 15 years. John talks about historical uses of sound technologies, sound preservation processes, and some of his favourite collection items (including an oral history about misadventures in the mining town of Denniston).

John Kelcher, SANTK Preservation Archivist.
John Kelcher, SANTK Preservation Archivist.

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