One of our long-time staff is leaving Nga Taonga. Here David Klein takes a quick look at some favourite stories and items from the Archive.
I started out working front of house at the Film Archive (now part of Ngā Taonga) in 2013: answering the phone and making scones and coffee at the Taranaki St cinema and cafe; I’m leaving having moved to making newsletters and blogs.
Working in the café was great. It was lovely meeting people interested in New Zealand’s fascinating audiovisual heritage . The cinema programme was truly eclectic and a highlight for me was helping curate three editions of the Bicycle Film Festival. I ended up managing that space and working with groups for community fundraiser screenings and boutique film festivals.
When the cinema and café closed at the end of 2018 I was incredibly fortunate to be given the chance to move into communications. Since then I’ve produced our blog and newsletter and been in touch with a lot of people who follow our work over the years. Here are some stories that I enjoyed writing or of which I am especially proud.
Some good blogs
Tied Up in Black Tape – in which archivist Adam Sondej explains the many challenges or working with videotape.
The Case of the Missing Movies (written with Una Cruickshank) – the office was buzzing for several weeks as we tried to crack a film noir mystery.
The Fall of the Blancmange – I tried to make an Aunt Daisy recipe from a radio recording and failed. This was a silly and tasty story to write that had plenty of readers suggesting other milky desserts I could attempt.
A Wavy Archival Journey – an interesting photo of a disc started off an exploration across other heritage agencies, creating, I hope, a rich portrait of an unheralded Kiwi.
Repatriating Memory and the Korean War – ‘Repatriation [of film] allows countries to fill in the gaps in their memories.’
Favourite collection items
Ōtaki Dragline I didn’t expect that I’d watch all 30 minutes of a dragline dredging the Ōtaki River in 1946, but I loved it, and maybe you will, too? (It even got its own blog.)
Pacific Films – Cookery Nook
What a riot! Pacific Films produced some amazing newsreels – all great fun and incredibly well-made. Aunt Daisy and ‘Dad’ team up here for some shenanigans and a look around the Edmonds factory.
Radio Quiz Kings from 1968. These guys knew their stuff!
He Pito Whakaatu i te Noho a Te Māori i te Awa o Whanganui: Scenes of Māori Life on the Whanganui River. An astonishing recording from 1921. This is a captivating must watch.
All the home movies are amazing. Each of the recordings (‘personal records’) in our collection are so beautiful – you can tell they would have been priceless to all those involved. There’s also a sadness as everyone depicted has either become much older or passed away. That many of them are silent also has a slightly disconnected feeling that makes me pay closer attention.
Lawrie Inkster was a prolific filmmaker. This 1928 recording has some lovely backyard scenes, plus Inkster goofing around with backwards film – ‘un-digging’ his garden, ‘un-smoking’ his pipe and so on.
David King, Haircuts 1963 – This is just simple and poignant.
Len Lye was a groundbreaking visual and kinetic artist. In Musical Poster No 1 his lively style is used to advise wartime viewers about the risks of spreading important information. It’s a great mix of ‘let the colour and jazz wash over you’ and ‘how did he do that??’ filmmaking.
Comparison of the Sounds of Christchurch Factory Whistles – this is a delightful and clever recording from Christchurch’s 3YA and I’m so happy it was archived.
There are a lot of great and strange ads in New Zealand television history. For me this one could take the cake (er, or the spongy pud)
The Incoming Member of Parliament’s Guide to Ducking Questions – this is a great listen though will probably only make you more frustrated when you hear the ‘tips’ in action
It’s been a great job but I’m moving on. All the best and check out as much of the collection as you can!
Banner image is me serving soup in 2014 / making blancmange in 2021.