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Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Changes Secure NZ’s Audiovisual Taonga

Changes to Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision will secure how we collect, share, and care for New Zealand's audiovisual taonga for generations to come.

The independent charitable trust, originally set up as the New Zealand Film Archive, incorporated the RNZ sound archive in 2012 and the TVNZ archive in 2014. It holds more than 750,000 items, dating back to 1895 and spanning this country’s sound and moving image history.

Chief Executive Rebecca Elvy said changes to the structure of the organisation, announced publicly today, recognise the need to keep all collections as safe as possible, the changing way people access information, and the best way to direct funds into collecting, preserving and sharing audiovisual material.

"This is the first significant change since the three organisations have come together. It reflects a year-long process of determining how we can best serve New Zealanders through the collection.

"Key stakeholders in the film, broadcasting, culture and heritage sectors were involved in that planning and we are grateful for their input into our direction. We are confident that what we have developed together is right to take us forward.

"The most important thing is that the changes will keep our collections safe and will not in any way compromise people’s ability to access them."

In particular, the change will significantly improve the storage conditions of the national sound collection by moving it to the archive’s purpose-built, climate-controlled vault at Avalon, Lower Hutt, Ms Elvy said.

"In Christchurch, the facilities for the sound collection were temporary and makeshift since the 2011 earthquake. Staff have done an admirable job in these circumstances, but the building is not a suitable or safe long-term option for a national heritage collection.

"We tried hard to find other solutions to enable the collection to remain in Christchurch, but found it would be prohibitively expensive.

"The Avalon facility in Lower Hutt is already there and is a purpose-made archive facility built to a high standard of resilience to natural disasters. It is the safest location we have for our national sound collection.

"The public can be assured that the move will be carefully handled by our archivists, who are experts at caring for audiovisual taonga."

Ms Elvy said the changes would mean that some, but not all, roles in Auckland and Christchurch would move to the organisation’s Wellington and Hutt Valley sites.

"An Auckland-based collection will move to Avalon where there are staff to care for it. Two staff in Auckland have the choice to relocate or remain working in Auckland while we still have a lease on the office there."

Christchurch staff who work directly with the sound collection are being offered the opportunity to relocate; others have the choice to relocate or remain working in Christchurch.

Ms Elvy said neither the Christchurch or Auckland sites include open public facilities, so the changes will not affect public access to the collections.

"People across New Zealand primarily engage with the collection online, by individual request, or screenings and exhibitions at other local venues.

"The changes do not affect acquisition activities either, as potential depositors generally contact us by phone or email, and our staff make individual arrangements to collect their material, no matter where in New Zealand they are."

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision employs about 80 people across Wellington, Lower Hutt, Christchurch and Auckland. Of those, many will see some degree of change to their roles, with five positions ultimately disestablished.

"We have taken on board a large amount of feedback from staff over the past few weeks. Much of it has shaped the final decision, including the timeframe and approach for moving the collections, and enabling more people to choose whether or not to relocate.

"There is no denying that this is a large change for our organisation. But this is the evolution that is needed to sustain our sound and vision taonga into the future – for the benefit of all New Zealanders."