- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Co-ordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
Historic figures from Lyttelton’s past have been brought to life in a new exhibition of 23 compelling portraits, accompanied by archival sound recordings from the RNZ collection at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
The finished photo portraits are then hung in various locations around Lyttelton, which relate to either the subject or the sitter. The port town’s museum was destroyed in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and the project, which is called Lyttelton Redux, aims to help the museum maintain visibility in the community while it operates without a physical building or exhibition space.
By downloading the app you can listen to the sound recordings and view each of the portraits, making the exhibition accessible to everyone, even if you can’t make it to Lyttelton.
As well as archival audio relating to the historical figure (courtesy of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) all of the modern-day sitters also contributed recordings, including members of Lyttelton’s well-known music community.
15 September 1916 was the first real day in action on the Western Front for the New Zealand Division – and it was also the first day that tanks were ever used in battle. The two went into action together, as an interview from our Sound collection reveals. You can hear me talking about this recording with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan here or read more below.
Lindsay Merritt Inglis, a solicitor from Timaru, was in command of a company of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on the 15 September 1916. In 1964 he was interviewed about his experience and seeing those first tanks.
The British military command had been developing tank technology to try and break the stalemate of trench warfare. Their allied forces had been in the Somme area since July, with both sides quickly becoming bogged down in trench warfare and heavy artillery shelling was causing horrific losses. On the first day, they suffered over 57,470 casualties – the worst day in the history of the British Army. Continue reading →
The British High Commission, in partnership with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Wellington City Council, Ticketek New Zealand, and RSA National will also be presenting special free screenings of the film with live musical accompaniment. At these screenings, on Saturday 24 September at 3pm and 7pm, at the Michael Fowler Centre, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will play a specially commissioned orchestral score by the British composer Laura Rossi. Find out more about the British High Commission screenings here.
By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
This Tuesday was the 145th birthday of Lord Ernest Rutherford, who was born near Nelson in 1871. He is the man on our $100 note and “the father of nuclear physics” who was awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1908.
Last weekend also saw the re-opening of “Rutherford’s Den,” the cupboard-below-the-stairs where he carried out some of his earliest experiments at Canterbury University College in Christchurch. This is now a fully-fledged interactive science exhibit about the man and his discoveries and it features archival recordings from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s sound collection, including the voice of the man himself. You can hear me talking to RNZ’s Jim Mora about the recordings here or read more and find links to the recordings below.
The Rutherford’s Den museum is in the Clock Tower building of the Christchurch Arts Centre, which has been undergoing a massive, multi-million dollar restoration after suffering earthquake damage. Rutherford attended university there from 1890-94, gaining three degrees before winning a scholarship to study in England. Continue reading →
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.
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.
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:
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 →
Recently Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has started acquiring the arts programme Upbeat, which broadcasts every weekday on RNZ Concert. Upbeat covers a wide range of art topics, and – to my knowledge – is the only national daily radio arts programme in Aotearoa New Zealand.
A recent interview saw host Eva Radich interview Sarah McClintock from the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui about the art work The Horses Stayed Behind. The work by artist Cat Auburn is a memorial to the thousands of horses that were transported from Aotearoa and died in Word War I. The artwork is made up of hundreds of rosettes created using horse hair sourced from across the country.
By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
If you have driven into Wellington from the Kāpiti Coast you will probably know the sight of the RNZ transmission mast that used to dominate the skyline at Tītahi Bay near Porirua. This week the last section of the big 220-metre mast was finally demolished after it was found to have significant rust damage. There has been a radio mast at Tītahi Bay since 1937. When it was built, the original mast was the tallest structure in New Zealand and remained so until the Auckland Sky Tower was built in the 1990s.
Recordings held in the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision tell us about the important role this mast played in New Zealand’s broadcasting history. They were made at the opening ceremony for the transmitter – the fact the ceremony was recorded and archived is indicative of the significance of this event in 1937. You can hear me talking about these recordings with Jesse Mulligan on RNZ National here, or you can listen to the original recordings in full below.
Radio began in New Zealand in the mid-1920s and station 2YA (which eventually became RNZ National) used to broadcast from Mt Victoria. But after the Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931 it was decided that a station with enough power to be heard nationwide was needed, so the government bought the Tītahi Bay site and built what was then the most powerful station in the southern hemisphere.
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision holds several discs recorded at the opening ceremony for the new transmitter on 23 Jan 1937. Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage was there and in his speech he stressed the importance of this new medium of radio, saying: “Radio will soon be as necessary for the mind of an active citizen as water is for the human body”:
Mr Savage had already grasped how radio could be used to promote democracy. In 1936 New Zealand had become one of the first countries in the world to broadcast parliament, so this new transmitter that could reach the whole country tied in with his push to strengthen the spread of radio in New Zealand.Continue reading →
- 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.
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.