Tag Archives: New Zealand Broadcasting Service

ChineseNewYearFeature

Firecrackers and Feasts – Chinese New Year in 19th Century Central Otago

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

It’s the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar and lunar New Year festivities are being held around the country as the Chinese community celebrates. Thousands of non-Chinese Kiwis join in with these events, going to lantern festivals, watching fireworks and enjoying Chinese food throughout the month of February.

 

Chinese gold miners, and Reverend George Hunter McNeur, at Carrick's Road, Potter's Gully, Nevis, Otago. Ref: 1/2-019155-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301091
Chinese gold miners, and Reverend George Hunter McNeur, at Carrick’s Road, Potter’s Gully, Nevis, Otago. Ref: 1/2-019155-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22301091

 

We might tend to think multicultural events such as Chinese New Year are a recent development and part of the more cosmopolitan society we now enjoy in Aotearoa. However, recordings in the sound collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision show us that as far back as the gold-rush era of the 1870s and 1880s, Chinese communities were inviting their European neighbours to celebrate the New Year with them.

These are the oral history recordings made with elderly Central Otago residents in the late 1940s by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit. You can hear me talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about these recordings or read more and listen to them below.

The Mobile Unit recording truck visited communities all over Central in 1948 and carried out interviews in places such as Arrowtown, St Bathans, Naseby, Cromwell and Lawrence. It recorded memories from people who were aged in their 80s, so their recollections go back as far as the 1860s – and they had many stories of the gold-miners who flocked to the area  – especially the Chinese miners.

 

85 year old gold miner Kong Cong of Lawrence, who arrived at the diggings in 1862. "New Zealand Freelance," 27 May 1936. Ref: PAColl-5469-018. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23053398
85 year old gold miner Kong Cong of Lawrence, who arrived at the diggings in 1862. “New Zealand Freelance,” 27 May 1936. Ref: PAColl-5469-018. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23053398

 

Two Arrowtown women, Helen Ritchie and Ellen Dennison, remember the large meals the miners provided to mark events such as Chinese New Year.  Mrs Ritchie was born in 1863 in Invercargill and grew up on the Shotover and Nevis Rivers, where her father was a shepherd.

 

Helen Ritchie and Ellen Dennison speaking on Mobile Unit – Arrowtown History (1948, ref. 5727). You can listen to the full interview here.

 

Continue reading

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

TrevorBerghanFeatureImage

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)

Continue reading

23249989-detail

Audio Curios: It’s in the Boot!

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

Earlier this week I stumbled across a number of delightful game shows in the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

The first programme featured the much-loved entertainer Selwyn Toogood. In this excerpt, he hosts “It’s in the Bag’” from Dannevirke in 1955.

 

“It’s in the Bag,” 1955, NZBS

You can hear a longer version of this show here.

 

Then I came across “One Minute Please,” a New Zealand Broadcasting Service panel game that was recorded in front of a live audience. Two teams of three, one male and one female were given topics to discuss for one minute, with general rules of impromptu speaking. Continue reading

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

[Basil Clarke] in the New Zealand Players production of "Romanoff and Juliet." Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1958/2046-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22702922

Audio Curios: The Man in The White Coat

You may have asked yourself, “who is that man in the white coat who sometimes appears at the top of our blog postings … and what is he doing?”

Well, thanks to Peter Downes’ research, we know that his name is Basil Clarke and he was part of the “listening watch” during World War II.

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).
Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

The photograph shows Basil in the main 2YA control room in Wellington, listening to shortwave broadcasts from the BBC, allied and enemy radio stations.  The control-room was staffed 24 hours a day, and when the operator heard a newsflash or something of importance they would do a direct recording onto an acetate disc.  This disc could then be re-broadcast to radio listeners in New Zealand (this was how news of what was happening in the war on the other side of the world reached New Zealanders, in the days before the internet, television, or even tape recording technology –which didn’t come in until the mid-1950s).

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Sound Collection contains many of these wartime shortwave recordings – an example being from exactly 75 years ago, when news came through of Hitler’s proclamation that Germany would march against Soviet Russia:

New Zealand Broadcasting Service, 22 June 1941

Continue reading

Octavius Francis Harwood’s first house, built in the early 1840s (currently under renovation). Photo by Alexandra Porter, January 2016.

Octavius Francis Harwood – A Journey of Family Discovery

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

Last year I was digitising a 1948 Mobile Recording Unit oral history, as part of a larger digitisation project. While digitising this item I heard the name Octavius Harwood crop up, in an account by a Mrs McDonald from Waikouaiti. I remembered the name of Octavius Harwood (it’s not a name you forget) from my partner’s whakapapa (genealogy), when we were researching names for our son Elijah fourteen years ago. So I got in touch with taua Natalie, Eli’s grandmother, who lives near Taiaroa Head, on the Otago Peninsula and the Harwood-McDonald story began to unfold.

 

Mrs McDonald, of Palmerston North, interviewed by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service, 29 September 1948

 

Octavius Francis Harwood, born in Stepney Green, England, was the eighth of ten children to Robert Harwood, a sea captain, and Mary (nee Soutter) – whose family owned the company, Soutter ships. After a classical education Harwood followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the mariner’s life, which led him to Sydney in May 1837. There he met George Weller of the infamous and well-established Australasian whaling and trading brothers, and in the following year sailed on to New Zealand to take up the role of storekeeper and clerk at their Ōtākou station [1] . Continue reading

Māori waka hurdle race on the Waikato River at the Ngaruawahia Regatta. 1910.  Godber, Albert Percy, 1875-1949, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22661780

Tūrangawaewae Regatta

The Waikato River at Tūrangawaewae was a hive of activity last weekend, with thousands of people turning out to watch and take part in the annual Regatta, which sees a variety of Māori waka racing on the river – from primary school children, right up to the mighty waka tauā, or war canoes. This was the 121st year the Regatta has been held, and over the years recordings of radio coverage of the event have found their way into the archives of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. You can hear Sarah Johnston, our Client Services Coordinator – Radio, talking about them with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan here, or listen to the recordings below.

Regatta on the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia, circa 1910. Price, William Archer, 1866-1948. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22846494
Regatta on the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia, circa 1910. Price, William Archer, 1866-1948. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22846494

The Ngāruawāhia Regatta, as it was originally called, began in 1895 as a St Patrick’s Day holiday event. The 1902 Cyclopedia of New Zealand says it was started by Mr Wells, the local school headmaster, and in 1900 8,000 people attended [1]. The event was organised by both Māori and Pākehā to “promote and encourage aquatic sports and the preservation of ancient Māori events and customs.” It was a hugely popular entertainment, with special trains being chartered from Auckland to bring spectators down and paddle steamers bringing others up the river. At times as many as 20,000 people turned up for the regatta, which was soon supplemented with kapa haka, Highland dancing, sideshows and wood-chopping displays.

In 1947 the New Zealand Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit toured Waikato and recorded oral history interviews with elderly residents, several of whom recalled the regattas of their youth. A Pākehā resident of Huntly, George Shaw, talked about working in a general store, Friar Davies and Co., which did a brisk trade supplying Regatta visitors in the 1900s. From his description we can tell it was a big social event for the whole community, which required a new wardrobe.

Clip 1: George Shaw

From History of Huntly (1 January 1947)

George Shaw‘s recollections are of course, a Pākehā interpretation of Māori events – often the norm in broadcasting back in the 1940s. Continue reading

Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: Visiting Royals

Bernard Kearns commentates on the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arriving at their hotel in Christchurch and Don Donaldson interviews Mrs Derbyshire in the Square, who has been waiting for hours (1954, NZ Broadcasting Service), and the team from Global Kids discuss how they are going to greet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visit Dunedin (2014, Otago Access Radio).

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

 

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.

“Hello Children” – Broadcasts to the British Child Evacuees of World War II

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

Evacuees to New Zealand, 1940. (The National Archives UK DO 131/15
)
Evacuees to New Zealand, 1940.
(The National Archives UK DO 131/15
)

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Radio Collection contains hundreds of recordings made during World War II. The best known are the many discs recorded by the staff of the National Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit, who travelled with New Zealand forces. From North Africa, Italy and through the Pacific… the mobile unit was there, recording interviews, messages home and special programmes, such as the much-loved concerts by members of the Māori Battalion.

Back home in New Zealand, the National Broadcasting Service was monitoring the shortwave radio broadcasts from overseas. A 24-hour “listening watch” was maintained in the control room of station 2YA in Wellington, staffed by a broadcasting technician and equipped with disc recorders (tape recording technology would only arrive in the 1950s.)

Basil Clarke on listening watch at 2YA during World War II, recording an in-coming broadcast.    (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection)
Basil Clarke records an incoming broadcast while on listening watch.
(Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection)

Anything of interest could be immediately recorded on disc for local re-broadcast. Many of these recordings survive in our collection. Often they are news bulletins, telling the world of historic events such as the fall of Singapore or the Battle of Arnhem. But these recordings also captured poignant personal communications and stories of the war-time experience, such as these two excerpts of a bittersweet little programme called “Hello Children”:

[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]

 

“Hello Children” was aimed at the 3,000-odd British children who had been evacuated overseas at the start of the war. The two episodes we’ve shared above were transmitted in the BBC’s Pacific Service to New Zealand on the 22nd of February and 6th of May 1942.

When France fell to the Nazis in May 1940 and the Allies were evacuated from Dunkirk, fears of a German invasion became very real to Britons. Wealthier families were able to pay to send their children to live with overseas friends and family members. American companies such as Kodak and Ford set up schemes to evacuate the children of their British employees to the United States. The public soon demanded that overseas evacuation to be made available to families from all walks of life. In response, the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB) scheme was established by the British government in June 1940. Continue reading