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

HildaMyNatureDiary crop

Hilda Brodie Smith

Hilda Brodie Smith, of Porirua, wrote, directed and starred in a number of rather incredible documentaries during the 1960s. Her work was so distinctive and professional that she regularly won prizes in cine club competitions.

Hilda’s films have recently been restored by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, and film conservator Richard Faulkner talks about the process in this feature by Radio New Zealand.

12 of the newly preserved films can be watched on our online catalogue, here.


Feature image: Hilda Brodie Smith, My Nature Diary (1965).


“How Bizarre” Turns 21

“How Bizarre,” the catchy hit by OMC (Otara Millionaires Club), was released 21 years ago today, on 15 December 1995.

“How Bizarre” reached the number one spot in New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa, was on the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 for 36 weeks, and won Single of the Year at the 1996 New Zealand Music Awards.

Master copies of the music video are preserved in the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

Watch the music video and sing along:

Video courtesy of umusic NZ.


NZHistory, “OMC Release ‘How Bizarre’”

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

Young Hercules

By Zak Reddan (Ngā Taonga Cataloguer / Researcher)

Did you know Young Hercules, the title character in the 1998-99 TV series filmed in New Zealand, was played by a teenaged Ryan Gosling?

The US series was the second spin-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-9), following Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001).

In scripted banter with his The Nice Guys (2016) co-star Russell Crowe at the 4th Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, Gosling referred to his time here: “I lived in New Zealand for, like, two years. I’m sweet as, bro.”

Young Canadian Ryan Gosling in Young Hercules. Image: (Image: Wikipedia).
Young Canadian Ryan Gosling in Young Hercules. Image: Wikipedia.

Pity he grows up to be Kevin Sorbo.

Some episodes of Young Hercules are available for viewing in our Wellington medialibrary (see Episode 44 – Home for The Holidays and Episode 46 – Herc’s Nemesis).


International Business Times, “Ryan Gosling Mistakes New Zealand For Australia In Hilarious AACTA Awards Skit with Russell Crowe,” 30 January 2015.