Utaina – a multi-year digital preservation project

In Budget 2020 Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was allocated funding to support the digital preservation of Crown-owned audiovisual heritage content on magnetic media dating from the 1960s into the 2000s. This includes video and sound tapes and some magnetic sound on film, all of which is physically deteriorating. 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 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, although the majority is in the TVNZ archive collection which Ngā Taonga manages. The TVNZ collection captures the issues and experiences of New Zealanders through the decades, unique cultural events, and defining moments in our nation’s history.

Tape playing

At Ngā Taonga we have called our response to this project Utaina. Utaina!, which translates to ‘load the precious freight on board!’, was a catch cry coined by Sir Apirana Ngata when he was arguing for the urgent recording and preservation of Māori language and heritage. As our preservation project is aspiring to ‘load on board’ more than half a century of precious audiovisual heritage so that it can be preserved for future generations, we felt that it was a very appropriate name.

We look forward to collaborating on this critical preservation project with our peers at the National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand.

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