In Budget 2020, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was allocated funding to support the digital preservation of Crown-owned audiovisual heritage material. This includes video and sound tapes and some magnetic sound on film, all of which physically deteriorate over time. Without digital preservation, over 95 percent of at-risk content could be lost in less than a decade. In addition, the playback technology for these formats is on the verge of obsolescence. There is a limited window to ensure that these taonga are preserved for future generations.
Crown-owned at-risk audiovisual material is cared for by Ngā Taonga, the National Library of New Zealand – Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, and Archives New Zealand – Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga. The majority is in the TVNZ Collection, which Ngā Taonga manages.
International vendor Memnon was selected to carry out the preservation work and have set up a digitisation facility at Avalon Studios, Lower Hutt. Memnon has almost 20 years’ experience in the large-scale digitisation of audio and video assets for libraries, universities, broadcasters, museums and government organisations around the world.
An official launch celebration was held for the Utaina project in Wellington on 17 November 2022. Attendees included then Minister of Internal Affairs Hon Jan Tinetti, then Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Hon Kiritapu Allan, Memnon CEO Heidi Shakespeare, and our peers at the National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand.
Utaina is expected to continue through to 2026.
The name Utaina translates to ‘load the precious freight on board’. It was a catch phrase of Sir Apirana Ngata when advocating for the recording and preservation of Māori language and heritage. As this project is aspiring to ‘load on board’ precious audiovisual heritage so that it can be preserved for future generations, it is a very appropriate name.