Sounds of Lost Christchurch

Like many Christchurch inhabitants, our sound branch of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (then known as Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero) was forced out of its home by the earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011. The former premises at Radio New Zealand House, on the corner of Chester Street West and Durham St, were damaged and have now been demolished. The archives moved to temporary premises, where they remain today, while a new permanent home is sought. Learn more about the recovery of the collections after the 2011 earthquakes here.

Within our collection we have many recordings that capture events and everyday moments in Christchurch locations that no longer exist – or have been changed forever by the seismic activity.

Mr Les Croft, a 3YA entertainer. From radio artists 3YA Christchurch leather photo album.


Spectrum – A Kind of Square Programme (1987)

Christchurch Cathedral dominates the Square, but it’s the people who congregate there who make it the living hub of Christchurch. Jack Perkins explores Cathedral Square and the many characters who call it home. This programme won a Mobil Radio Award. Duration: 27′35″, ref. 5318.


Christchurch city cinema promotion (1953)

All seven of the inner-city movie theatres mentioned by Cookie Moyle in this 1953 promotional recording have now disappeared from the CBD. Duration: 1′25″, ref. 22138.



Royal Progress – The Queen arrives at The Clarendon Hotel (1954)

Excited crowds and broadcasters wait for Her Majesty the Queen to arrive at The Clarendon Hotel in Worcester St on 18 January  1954, and BBC commentator Wynford Vaughan-Thomas describes 1950s Christchurch. Duration: 8′17″, ref. 36343.



V.E. Day in Christchurch (1945)

Commentator Jack Maybury of 3ZB reports on celebrations marking the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, including a parade in Cathedral Square and festivities in a city hotel. Duration: 6′33″, ref. 148267.



Christchurch Springbok Tour protests (1981)

Coverage of protest marches through the city and an invasion of the field at Lancaster Park before the first test between the All Blacks and Springboks on 15 August 1981. Duration: 10′27″, ref. 143556.



The Civic Theatre, Manchester Street (1951)

The acoustics of the Civic Theatre and its organ were captured in this recording from 1951. “The Southern Cross,” by William Gray, with organ accompaniment by Ken Boniface. Duration: 3′37″, ref. 36401.



Bells of Christchurch Cathedral, rung to mark the birth of Prince Charles (1948)

The bells ring to celebrate Prince Charles’ birth on 15 November 1948. Duration 6’38”, Ref. 147707.


Chief bell-ringer Mr G.H. Claydon then explains the significance of the bells. Duration 2’15”, Ref. 147707.


Highlights of the 1974 Commonwealth Games at QEII Park, Christchurch

Anyone who was living in Canterbury in 1974 will have vivid memories of this seminal event in the city’s history: from the Games’ song “Join Together” by Steve Allen, to gold medal performances by locals Dick Tayler and Jaynie Parkhouse, and the huge party that was the closing ceremony. QEII might be gone but the memories linger on… Duration, ref. 23602.


Experience more sights and sounds of lost Christchurch at our Beca Heritage Week 2015 events in Christchurch on October 18. More info here.


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

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