Tag Archives: WW1

Robin Hyde feature

National Poetry Day

To mark National Poetry Day today,  here is a historic radio broadcast from 1939 by politician and novelist John A. Lee – paying tribute to the New Zealand poet Iris Wilkinson, better known as Robin Hyde.

John Alfred Alexander Lee, Labour Under-Secretary, giving a speech [Orakei, Auckland?]. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-67319-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22857067
John Alfred Alexander Lee, Labour Under-Secretary, giving a speech [Orakei, Auckland?]. Whites Aviation Ltd : Photographs. Ref: WA-67319-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22857067

Today we might call John A. Lee a social justice activist. He grew up in poverty in Dunedin at the end of the 19th century, was a vagrant and then imprisoned as a young man for petty crime – where he discovered socialism. He fought in WWI, where he was decorated for bravery and lost an arm. Eventually, on his return to New Zealand during the Depression of the 1930s, he got into politics and wrote his first novel, Children of the Poor.

Robin Hyde. S P Andrew Ltd : Portrait negatives. Ref: 1/2-043599-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22770176
Robin Hyde. S P Andrew Ltd : Portrait negatives. Ref: 1/2-043599-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22770176

While in Parliament he met young Iris Wilkinson, who was working in the Press Gallery at the age of just 17. She is best known today as a novelist, for her World War I novel Passport to Hell and the autobiographical The Godwits Fly, but in the 1920s and early 1930s she was best known as a poet. She was plagued by ill health, mental illness and drug addiction and after a very adventurous but tragically short life, she committed suicide in 1939 in London. John A. Lee had maintained a long correspondence with her throughout her life, and in he took to the airwaves to give this moving tribute:

 

Tribute to Robin Hyde by John A. Lee (1939). Full information about this recording is available here.

 

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

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: George Bissett’s Bugle

Producer Shelley Wilkinson visits the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa to learn about the shrapnel-torn bugle of twenty-year-old bugler George Bissett, killed on the 27 April 1915 – just two days after landing on Gallipoli (“Bugle Stories,” RNZ Concert, 24 April 2015).

Learn more about George here.

You can hear the full radio 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.

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

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: The Last Post

Bugler Trevor Bremner and producer Shelley Wilkinson discuss the various bugle calls that make up the “Last Post” (“Bugle Stories,” RNZ Concert, 25 April 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 series of six “Bugle Stories” 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.

F6824

Movie-going during the First World War

- By James Taylor (Research Co-ordinator, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Going to the movies was a favourite pastime for New Zealanders prior to the First World War, and over the course of the war it became even more popular. The “pictures” as they were then known arrived here in the mid 1890s, and during the nineteen-teens “Picture Palaces” began sprouting up in cities and towns around the country. Rural areas, small country towns and outback communities didn’t go without either.  Travelling showmen toured the country in horse-drawn carts, motor-cars or lorries, and set up temporary screens in shearing sheds, halls, churches, or wherever else there was a suitable space for a screen, a film projector and an audience.

The films watched by the picture-going public were different than those today’s audience are used to, as the one hour plus feature film was in its infancy. The typical cinema programme changed over this time: in 1914 cinema-goers saw a series of short fiction and non-fiction films, comedies or dramas, as well as newsreels and “topical” news films showing events of interest filmed by cameramen working for a local cinema, like Henry Gore of Dunedin.

HMS New Zealand, June 1913 (filmed by H.C. Gore). Learn more about this film.

Continue reading

Blizzard

100 Years Ago: The Blizzard

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

100 years ago this week, the New Zealanders still grimly hanging onto the slopes of Gallipoli were dealt yet another blow. After enduring a summer of searing heat, with vast swarms of flies and the dysentery they brought, the northern winter arrived. From November 26-28 a vicious snow storm lashed the peninsula.

Referred to by veterans ever afterwards as “The Blizzard,” the snow brought further misery to the men who were living in bivvies and shallow trenches. Thousands developed frostbite and over 200 died. Interviews with three New Zealand Gallipoli veterans held in the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision recall the snow, mud and frostbite. As one man says, it was then the “higher-ups” realised they couldn’t possibly hold on through the winter, and preparations were made for the evacuation from Gallipoli the following month.

You can hear a compilation of these recollections of “The Blizzard” on our website, Anzac: Sights and Sounds of WWI, here.

It is one of the new archival film and sound items uploaded to the website this month.  The site, which is a collaboration between Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, will continue to be updated with new material over the remaining three years of the WWI anniversary period.

Image:  courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

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

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

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.