Function To Mark The Transfer Of Responsibility For The Sound Archives/Nga Taonga Korero To The New Zealand Film Archive

Hon_Christopher_FinlaysonHon Chris Finlayson  Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage has generously made available the text of the Speech he gave  at the  Function To Mark The Transfer Of Responsibility For The Sound Archives/Nga Taonga Korero To The New Zealand Film Archive.


The text of the Speech is as follows:



I join my colleague the Honourable Craig Foss in acknowledging the courage and professionalism of Sound Archives staff in Christchurch and their efforts in securing and protecting the Archives after the earthquakes.

New Zealand’s Sound Archives/Ngā Taonga Kōrero are indeed an important part of our heritage. They are the voices of our people, telling our stories.

In the words of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO[1]:

Our audiovisual heritage…carries the promise of sharing experience and broadening the horizons of everyone. No other medium bears such vibrant testimony to the world’s rituals, customs and cultural expressions.

Over the past century, worldwide, sound and image recordings have transformed the way we think about our documented history.

They are a unique complement to the written records of our development as a nation. They enable us to see and hear the world of our parents and grandparents. They bring the past into the present and they bring history to life.

But this heritage is also uniquely vulnerable. Already a great proportion of audiovisual records worldwide have been lost because the specialist skills and regimes needed to ensure their survival are not always in place.

I am delighted by bringing together the Sound Archives/Ngā Taonga Kōrero and the New Zealand Film Archive we are ensuring we have the skills and regimes in place for the future of our unique sound heritage.

When you look at what is held in these archives, you realise just what an extraordinary taonga this is.

Take for example the recordings of the National Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit in the Second World War. Using a specially built truck, they accompanied New Zealand forces through North Africa, Italy and the Pacific – capturing the sounds of the Māori Battalion and the first-ever examples of a New Zealand broadcaster reporting from the front line of battle.

Unlocking our wartime audiovisual heritage has particular resonance as we approach commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Also in these archives are a number of post-war recordings made with the same mobile technology, recording elderly former pioneers and Māori residents in small-town New Zealand whose memories dated back to the 1850s, the land wars and the gold rushes[2].

This is a treasure trove for historians, for linguists studying our Kiwi accent or te reo Māori, for any New Zealander with an interest in the past.

A staff member from the Sound Archives in Christchurch has kindly provided me with a small sample to play today, in honour of this occasion.

You now play the MP3 provided.

We have much for which to thank Radio New Zealand. It has made an excellent job of compiling the Sound Archives and overseeing their care over many years.

Transferring responsibility to the New Zealand Film Archive is an opportunity to build on all Radio New Zealand has achieved, bringing to the party the skills and resources of New Zealand’s primary audiovisual archiving institution.

The Sound Archives are going into very good hands. The Film Archive has considerable experience in the digitisation process and boasts a world-leading approach to the storage of collections, something it adapted apparently from the horticultural sector. Maybe in the interests of better public services we should be consolidating archiving and horticulture!

The addition of the Sound Archives will cement the New Zealand Film Archive’s place as a centre of audiovisual excellence of which New Zealanders can be proud.

It brings the potential for a broader national overview and greater coherence in collecting, preserving and presenting material across the whole audiovisual range.

I am very pleased NZ On Air is providing extra funding to support this move, in particular, the digitisation programme which will ensure the Archives are available to future generations.

So to finish, thank you to the Sound Archives/Ngā Taonga Kōrero, Radio New Zealand, the New Zealand Film Archive, NZ On Air, the policy team at the Ministry and all who have contributed positively to the successful transfer of the Sound Archives’ care.

I welcome the Sound Archives to the Arts, Culture and Heritage family – and am very pleased to have this valuable heritage on my watch.



[1] Statement on the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, 2012

[2] Information on the Archives provided by Sound Archives in Christchurch.

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