All posts by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

The remains of Remus Wood, near after shelling on 4th October 1917 [Alexander Turnbull Library]

Remembering New Zealand’s “darkest day”

Commemorations will be held around New Zealand and at Ypres in France this week to mark the centenary of what has been called “our darkest day”, when 843 New Zealanders were killed in just a few hours on the morning of the 12th of October 1917, near Passchendaele during World War I.

In the sound archives of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision we can hear accounts from men who were there and survived the mud and machine guns. You can listen to Sarah Johnston and RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan discuss the recordings or read more and find links to the full recordings below.

Some historians believe October 12th should really be New Zealand’s national day of remembrance, rather than Anzac Day,  as the loss of life on the Western Front was so much greater than Gallipoli. 12,500 New Zealanders died there compared with 2, 779 in the Gallipoli Campaign.

Flanders, which is the region on either side of the Belgian-French border, had been the scene of fighting for many months already in October 1917.

On October 4th over 300 New Zealanders were killed in the attack on Gravenstafel Spur, but despite the deaths, this action was seen as a success by the British commanders, who felt (mistakenly) that the German forces must now be on the back foot and that another push would see the Allies advance.

The region around the village of Passchendaele had been quite heavily forested before the war, but as you can see in these images, the famous woods were now just stumps and the months of shelling had destroyed the landscape completely, leaving huge shell craters filled with water and covering the land in deep, deadly mud.

New Zealand engineers resting in a large shell crater at Spree Farm following the First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October 1917.[Alexander Turnbull Library]
New Zealand engineers resting in a large shell crater at Spree Farm following the First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October 1917.[Alexander Turnbull Library]
Jim Warner of Te Awamutu was in the Auckland Battalion that was in the first New Zealand attack on October the 4th and he explains how the constant shelling by artillery guns had turned the Flanders countryside into a huge swamp.

Jim Warner in [James Warner recalls his World War I experiences] Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID25038

Another veteran recorded for radio years after the war was John A. Lee, who was to become a Labour MP and author.  He was in the Wellington Infantry and wrote graphically of the horror of the shattered landscape:

For miles to the right or the left the country was fouled with the rotting dead, and the country in front and to the rear. Fragments of horses, mules, men – death was indeed a leveller – disabled tanks, equipment sinking in mud, helmets riddled with shrapnel.

There were boots, flesh, arms and legs protruding from the mud.

The Zonnebecke wood was a wood of barkless splinters. It was as if land and men and war material had been churned in some giant mixer and spread over land pitted with craters to hold the enriched mixture. (Ngā Tapuwae)

The deep mud made it very difficult to transport any supplies and ammunition and it also meant it was almost impossible for the artillery to fire accurately, as the recoil meant the guns moved and sank every time they fired.  As Lee explains in this interview, the lack of accurate targeting meant it was hard to stop the enemy effectively – and increased the chances of accidentally hitting our own men.

John A. Lee in [Unedited interview with John A Lee about the Western Front] Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID246669

Despite the obstacles Lee outlines: the mud, the lack of supplies and the uncut barbed wire protecting German machine-gun pill-boxes, the order was given for the New Zealanders to advance on the morning of October 12th, up Bellevue Spur towards the village of Passchendaele.  Hundreds were cut down by the machine guns and simply disappeared into the mud.  This is one reason why there are so many names on memorials in Flanders to men who have ‘no known grave’ – their bodies were simply never found.

Christchurch lawyer J.K. Moloney was in the Canterbury Infantry Battalion and he recalls the next day how hard it was to evacuate any of the wounded men and carry them through thigh-deep mud.  He pays tribute to the work of the Māori Pioneer Battalion who stepped in to rescue many of Passchendaele’s wounded.

J.K. Moloney in [John Keith Moloney recalls Passchendaele.] Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID253856

 

Women's Suffrage 1893 Cartoon from the New Zealand Graphic and Ladies’ Journal, 1894 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

“It was quite an exciting time!” –  election recollections by first-time women voters of 1893.

Suffrage_banner_cartoonBy Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

With the general election looming and the 124th anniversary of New Zealand women’s suffrage celebrated on Tuesday, this week seemed a good time to highlight first-hand accounts of this key moment in Aotearoa’s history, held in our sound archives.

You can listen to excerpts from these recordings in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s regular slot with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan here, or read more and find links to hear the full recordings below.

In 1968, Hilda Lovell-Smith of Christchurch was interviewed for radio about her memories of her mother Jennie, who was a close friend of Kate Sheppard and campaigned alongside her to get signatures on the suffrage petition. This was eventually presented to Parliament with 32,000 signatures in 1893.   Hilda was also a life-long campaigner for women’s rights. She was known as “Kitty”, after being given her middle name “Kate”,  as a tribute Kate Sheppard.  In this excerpt, she recalls her mother’s campaigning in rural Canterbury in the late 1890s.

Hilda Lovell-Smith in [Women’s Franchise] 1968 Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID282401

Kate Sheppard
Kate Sheppard, 1905 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Although Hilda Lovell-Smith was too young to vote in 1893, we have other recordings with women who did take part in the historic event.  1968 was the 75th anniversary of New Zealand women getting the vote and in Auckland, three elderly women took part in a group interview for radio about their memories of that election.

Mrs Dickson, who was 101 at the time of the interview, grew up at Parewanui, near Bulls in Rangitikei and peppers her lively recollections with a delightful chuckle.

Mrs Dickson in [Women’s Enfranchisement – Voters of 1893] Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID156726

Like her fellow interviewees, Mrs Dickson remembers how the temperance movement and the fight for women’s suffrage went hand-in-hand.  Temperance campaigners who were keen to see prohibition of alcohol, knew many women would likely support them if they were able to vote.

Small boy in hat
Temperance campaign postcard, 1908 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Many New Zealand suffragists, such as Kate Sheppard, were members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, pushing for greater control of liquor sales, if not outright prohibition.  Another woman voter in the 1968 recording is Mrs Manktelow.  She explains how the Methodist Church (or Wesleyans, as they were known at the time) also worked for suffrage.

Mrs Manktelow in [Women’s Enfranchisement – Voters of 1893] Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID156726

Mrs Manktelow recalled the forces opposing women getting the vote included the Premier (Prime Minister) of the day, Richard Seddon.  He had the backing of the liquor lobby and had campaigned hard against women voting, on their behalf.

While many women voters of 1893 undoubtedly did support Prohibition, which came close to passing several times, it never quite got the majority required to ban alcohol nationally.  But closure of all hotels was one of the many predicted consequences raised by opponents of women getting the vote.

In a radio broadcast made in the 1950s about the status of women, another voter of 1893 Helen Wilson, recalled the wild predictions about the effects of women voting: either national peace and harmony and elimination of corruption  - or victory for handsome political candidates only!

Helen Wilson in The Status of Women  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID32941

Helen Wilson also signed Kate Sheppard’s suffrage petition, although she was quite conservative politically.  She became involved in rural politics and later rose to become the president of the newly formed Women’s Division of Federated Farmers.  You can hear more about her life and views in the full radio programme, at the link above.

Feature cartoon from the New Zealand Graphic and Ladies’ Journal, 1894 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

Swill_Feat2

The last days of the ‘6 o’clock swill’

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

White family play with toys
Vote 6 o’clock closing! It means fewer bad debts, more money for family comforts, happier home life. [1948-1949].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-03. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22558587
 

New Zealand’s infamous hour of binge-drinking,  known as the ‘6 o’clock swill’, finally came to an end 50 years ago this October.

Recordings held in the sound archives of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision tell us more about this unique approach to alcohol licensing,  which was introduced during World War I  - but endured for a further 50 years. You can hear Sarah Johnston talk to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about these recordings,  or read more and find links to the full recordings below.

The ’6 o’clock swill’ was the common name for the hour in which most New Zealand workers had to fit in all their drinking,  between finishing work at 5pm and the pub doors closing at 6pm. This was the licensing law from December 1917 until the law was repealed in October 1967. It meant crowded, noisy bars full of (mostly) men, hurrying to get as many beers in as they could,  before “Time please, gentlemen!” was called at 5.45 and they were turned out onto the street at 6pm sharp.

The law forcing hotels to stop serving alcohol at 6pm was introduced during World War I. There was a strong Temperance movement in New Zealand from the late 19th century onwards, with many people – especially women, pushing for total prohibition on the sale of alcohol, after seeing the effect unregulated drinking had on colonial society.

His_little_bit_cartoon
Auckland Observer, 23 June 1917 (courtesy Papers Past)

Several Prohibition referendums were held and came very close to passing. Campaigners cited ‘the war effort’ as yet another reason why alcohol sales should be limited, arguing that sober workers would be able to produce more and concentrate the country’s energies on winning the conflict.  The move to introduce 6 o’clock closing for bars in 1917 was a compromise by the government, to appease the groups pushing for Prohibition, but not shut down the liquor industry altogether.

Soldiers returning from the war however, were not impressed to see what had been done to drinking laws in their absence, as veteran Jack Archibald of Nelson recalled this excerpt from a radio interview.

Excerpt from J. Archibald on resettlement in New Zealand after World War I 1966. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID 238019

But the war-time measure became permanent and enjoyed some degree of popularity, remaining largely unchallenged through the 1920s, the Depression and World War II.  A referendum on whether to abolish early closing was held in 1949 – but nearly two-thirds of voters voted to keep 6 o’clock closing in place. Those in favour argued that it meant men went home to their families after work, rather than spending their time – and their family’s income – in hotels, as these advertisements from the referendum campaign illustrate.

Happiness depends on the home! Help preserve family harmony. Vote 6 o'clock closing. [ca 1948].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23085171
Happiness depends on the home! Help preserve family harmony. Vote 6 o’clock closing. [ca 1948].. Ref: Eph-C-ALCOHOL-Hours-1948-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23085171
 

But in the 1950s, opinion began to sway.  A radio documentary from 1958 in our archives, attempted a broad survey of New Zealand public opinion on liquor licensing laws and whether 6 o’clock closing should remain. It contains “vox pops” (short, opinionated sound-bites) from all over the country, which show the wide range of views – from religious people who believed all alcohol was a sin, to the man at the start of this excerpt who says the 6 o’clock closing regime is “keeping New Zealand in the Dark Ages.”

Excerpt from The Licensing Laws: a survey of public opinion, 1958. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID37548 (You can listen to the full 30-minute programme at the link)

Many New Zealanders in the documentary express concern about the high level of drunkenness among bar patrons who are forced out onto the street when pub doors shut at 6pm, after drinking as much as they can in a short space of time.  They talk of a desire for more leisurely drinking – and for hotels to be a more pleasant environment where “a man can take his wife” – the jostling, beer-soaked ‘6 o’clock swill’ being seen as no place for a woman!

By the late 1950s New Zealand was becoming more cosmopolitan, with post-war migrants arriving from places like The Netherlands with a far more relaxed approach to alcohol. Restaurants were becoming more common and interviewees in the programme ask why they should not be able to enjoy a glass of wine with their meal?  Overseas tourists too were increasing in numbers – and presumably were baffled by our strange regulations around drinking.

The pressure for reform continued into the 1960s.  The start of jet air travel meant more tourism and more Kiwis now experiencing drinking cultures overseas. Popular singer-songwriter and satirist Rod Derrett recorded some biting social commentary with his song “The 6 o’Clock Swill”, which was on the B-side of his best-selling EP “Rugby, Racing and Beer.”

Excerpt from ‘6 O’Clock Swill’ – from Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077

The song ends with the words:

“Kiwis won’t alter their habits until
We throw out New Zealand’s completely chaotic,
Antiquated, barbaric
Six o’clock swill!”

This condemnation of the licensing laws was apparently too vociferous and political for the Broadcasting Corporation of the day, who banned this track from being played on the radio.  The original copy we hold in our sound archives has “Banned” and “Prohibited” stamped across the cover – and the disc itself has been scratched and scored with a yellow chinagraph pencil, just in case any rebel announcer was tempted to try and play the offensive song!(Fortunately, we also acquired an undamaged copy.)

Hs_masters_voice

Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070 – showing ‘PROHIBITED’ stamp and yellow scoring and deliberate scratching to prevent playing the track “6 O’Clock Swill.”  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077
Rugby, Racing & Beer – Rod Derrett HMV 7EGM 6070 – showing ‘PROHIBITED’ stamp and yellow scoring and deliberate scratching to prevent playing the track “6 O’Clock Swill.”  Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID19077

Two years after this song was released another referendum was held, in September 1967.  This time the majority vote was to extend licensing hours until 10pm and the 6 o’clock swill passed into the history books.

 

Decimal Currency – Mr. Dollar the Teacher 1967

50 years of Decimal Currency

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision)

The New Zealand dollar first came into use 50 years ago when we switched over to decimal currency on the 10th of July 1967. That date is embedded in the memories of many older New Zealanders, thanks to a very catchy advertising jingle which was heard on radio and television in the year leading up to the conversion:
“Don’t shed a tear in July next year, for cumbersome pounds and pence. From July next year, every clerk and cashier will be dealing in dollars and cents..”


38400 Decimal currency radio commercial 1966

Radio and television advertising played a key role in getting New Zealanders used to the idea of a whole new currency system and the end of the pounds, shillings and pence inherited from Britain. The advertising campaign for the switch to decimal began the previous year and featured an animated character named “Mr Dollar.” He and the jingle reminded everyone of the date for Decimal Currency Day, known as “D.C. Day”


C1098 Decimal currency. Mr Dollar. (Morrow Productions)

C9904 Decimal currency. Mr Dollar. (Morrow Productions)

Retailers were obviously the sector most affected by the currency change. A radio commercial in our collection from the transition period, gives grocery prices at the national supermarket chain ‘Self-Help’ in both currencies.


39895 Self-Help commercial, 1967

There was a lot of debate around what to call the new currency. Some suggested names included the ‘crown’, the ‘fern’, the ‘tūi’, the ‘Kiwi’ and the ‘Zeal’. But in the end, we settled on the ‘dollar’, as did Australia who had switched to decimal the previous year.

The designs of the new currency were also the subject of hot debate. Some initial designs for the new coins were leaked to the media and there was outcry in Canterbury over a planned 20-cent piece which featured a rugby player – wearing a jersey which looked suspiciously like an Auckland team uniform.

Rejected designs for New Zealand’s new decimal coins in 1967. (Alexander Turnbull Library)

The designs for the 1967 notes were less controversial, with all of them featuring native birds on one side and a portrait of the Queen on the other. Dr A.H. McLintock, who was a member of the government’s Coinage Design Advisory Committee, was interviewed for the radio about the design process and commented on how pleased they were with the new decimal banknote designs.


40194 Decimal currency interview with A.H. McLintock

The new decimal currency was the subject of this humorous commercial recording, a 45rpm disc, released by Kiwi Records featuring The Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Auckland. On one side they intone the New Zealand weather forecast and on the reverse, they sing the words of an official brochure called “Dollars and Cents and You”, which was delivered to every household in New Zealand by the Decimal Currency Board. The choir renamed it “Dismal Currency” for their recording. Here is a brief excerpt:


19652 The New Zealand Weather Forecast/Dismal Currency – Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral
KIWI SA60

And what happened to all that old money …

Sketch of Jonathan Dennis Library by Tony De Goldi 2017

TAUTUA (Samoan word for ‘service’ )

- By Mishelle Muagututi’a (Documentation Team Leader, Kaiārahi Tira Pūranga ā-Tuhi, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
This blog has been written in support of National Volunteer Week: 18-24 June 2017

Over the last few years Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has benefited from the input of volunteers and interns as they help support our documentation collection staff care for and share our New Zealand audio-visual history and culture. Our volunteers are entrusted with processing collection items, from rehousing to cataloguing unpublished collections and, as a charitable trust, their support is invaluable.

Some of these volunteers stay for quite a while – over the past three years we’ve been particularly fortunate to have had four special volunteers work with us. The ‘Fantastic Four’ – Gema Ibanez, Shona Fretwell, Jill Goodwin and Daisy Wang have now all embarked on exciting personal journeys but we didn’t want to see them go without publically acknowledging their selfless and engaging service to the archive.

In May 2016, we had our first Intern – artist, Jasmine Te Hira, from the CNZ Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Internship programme. The programme allows potential arts managers and leaders to develop their arts management skills. Jasmine worked across teams, firstly learning about archival principles, rehousing, arrangement and descriptions; secondly as part of the production crew for the Siapo Cinema: Oceania Film Festival programme. Her three-month internship was shared with the Auckland Art Gallery. Jasmine has moved on to archiving work at the Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts archives as well as being an award-winning artist.

Jasmine Te Hira presents her rehousing skills in our Jonathan Dennis Library. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a
Jasmine Te Hira presents her rehousing skills in our Jonathan Dennis Library. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a

Erolia Ifopo working alongside Senior Archivist, Tracy White in the workroom. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a.
Erolia Ifopo working alongside Senior Archivist, Tracy White in the workroom. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a.

Fat Freddy’s Drop Management donated Erolia Ifopo’s time to volunteer within the community, and she chose Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and the Sisters of Compassion Soup Kitchen. Here at Ngā Taonga she learnt more about handling complex unpublished collections, arrangement and descriptions and she will take her new found knowledge back to Fat Freddy’s Drop Management’s own archives. Erolia also helped as Production Manager for the Moana Symposium 2016.

Recently we welcomed two new volunteers to the archive. To’aga Alefosio’s three month internship through the Pacific Studies programme at Victoria University is part of her study towards her Honours degree. To’aga’s time here will consist of research into Pacific related material in the collection, providing additional information and descriptions for photographic material, scanning of photographic material, cataloguing and descriptions.

Volunteer, graduate/artist, Kowhai Wheeler will be with us for 12 months as a photographic assistant. She is tasked with scanning photographs, slide transparencies, ephemera, posters and providing arrangement and descriptions.

To’aga Alefosio in the Jonathan Dennis Library. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a.
To’aga Alefosio in the Jonathan Dennis Library. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a.

The contribution and help of all our volunteers is immensely important, effectively increasing the number of documentation collection items processed and making more of our material available for all New Zealanders.
Kōwhai Wheeler in the Jonathan Dennis Library. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a
Kōwhai Wheeler in the Jonathan Dennis Library. Photo by Mishelle Muagututi’a

You can find out more about our documentation collection work in our website:
http://www.ngataonga.org.nz/collections/what-do-we-hold/documentation-and-artefacts.

One of the very special document collection items is the Charlie Chilcott album which you can view here.

The documentation collection team also worked on aspects featured in our Sellebration Exhibition, such as the animation cels used for the 1950s Shell Oil cinema advertisements.

New Zealand representative rugby union team, New Zealand vs Britain, 1930

Our oldest recorded sports broadcast – the All Blacks vs the British Lions, June 21, 1930

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision)

The first test between the All Blacks and the current touring Lions side takes place this Saturday at Eden Park and nearly 90 years ago this week, a similar match took place and entered the history books for several different reasons. 
 
On June 21st 1930, the All Blacks met a touring British side for their first test at Carisbrook in Dunedin. This tour was the first time the British Isles team started to be called by their nickname “The Lions”, although the name wasn’t officially adopted until the 1950s. The home side featured legendary New Zealand rugby names like George Nepia and Cliff Porter, who can be seen in the photo above.

All Blacks, lions, rugby 1930
Otago Daily Times, 22 June 1930, Courtesy Papers Past

It was shocking weather with driving snow, but still a crowd of 28,000 people turned out. You can listen to Sarah Johnston from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about the broadcast of this match, or read more below about why this game has gone down in New Zealand media history.

The All Blacks lost the game 3-6,  making it New Zealand’s first loss at home to Britain,  but it was also the first time an international match had been broadcast here – and it is our oldest sound recording of any New Zealand sports commentary and a pioneering example of local sound film recording.

All blacks rugby lions tour 1930
Otago Daily Times, 22 June 1930, Courtesy Papers Past

 
Radio broadcasting began in New Zealand in 1921 and sports commentaries started being broadcast in 1926, but none of these were able to be recorded because sound recording technology was still fairly immobile.  You could only record by cutting sound onto acetate or lacquer discs and the equipment was not able to be easily taken out of the studio to sporting events.  So all earlier 1920s sports broadcasts simply went out live-to-air and were not recorded.
 
However in 1929,  sound films (the “Talkies”), arrived in New Zealand. A Dunedin silent film cameraman Jack Welsh,  acquired some sound film recording equipment and his experiments with this new technology were significant enough to make news in the capital’s “Evening Post” newspaper:
 
“TALKIE” PLANT MADE IN DUNEDIN

Two young Dunedin men have successfully built a “talkie” film recording plant, after months of slow and tedious work. Mr. Jack Welsh, working in his laboratory at Anderson’s Bay, transferred sound, from a gramophone record on to a film. When the first trial of the reproduction was made in the projection-box at a Dunedin theatre, the melody was jumbled and marred, but the results showed that Mr. Welsh was well on the way to discovering a satisfactory method of recording. In Dunedin yesterday another trial of the reproduction was made of speeches recorded in the room on Friday night, and the improvement was remarkable.

(Evening Post 06 Mar 1930 Courtesy Papers Past)
 
Jack Welsh had already made quite a few silent films of local sports events in the late 1920s, some which you can watch on our website, such as cricket at Carisbrook in 1929. With his new equipment he now made some experimental sound recordings and by June 1930 he was ready to use it to film the test against the British side. 
 
Providing the sound for his film would be a local minister and rugby referee Reverend A.L. Cantor, who had been a regular rugby commentator for Dunedin radio station 4YA.  Years later in an interview held in our sound collection, he recalled how he took his seat in the Carisbrook broadcasting box, along with his wife, two radio technicians, two Lions players who were on the bench (Welshman T.E. Jones-Davies and Brit Douglas Kendrew), as well as Jack Welsh and his partner J.H. Gault – making it a rather cosy space on a snowy Dunedin day.


A.L. Cantor recalls the test match between New Zealand and the British Isles Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID146483
 
The score stayed at 3-all right up until nearly fulltime, but as Rev. Cantor describes, a sensational last minute try by the visiting side caused chaos in the commentary box, when the British player Kendrew could not contain his excitement at seeing his side win.


A.L. Cantor recalls the test match between New Zealand and the British Isles Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision ID146483
 
Unfortunately, the outburst by the over-excited Kendrew (who later became Major-General Sir Douglas Kendrew, Governor of Western Australia) was not recorded as part of Welsh and Gault’s film of New Zealand’s oldest sports commentary, but you can hear part of A.L. Cantor’s commentary and watch excerpts of the game on the film, which Welsh titled “New Zealand Audible Items of Interest.” (Note the All Blacks played in white jerseys, to avoid confusion with the dark blue of the British players.)
 

F4483 NEW ZEALAND AUDIBLE ITEMS OF INTEREST. Sound by J H Gault, Camera by Jack Welsh. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Shayne Carter and Peter Jefferies

Indie NZ Music – Live and Raw

- By Diane McAllen (Senior Outreach Curator – Kaitoko Kaupapa Torotoronga ā-Iwi, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

There is something special about recordings of live music events, they capture forever an ephemeral moment, and for music historians, documentary filmmakers of the future and the merely nostalgic, such recordings can be gold – treasured mementos waiting to be revealed to a new audience.

Recently I watched Ron Howard’s Eight Days a Week DVD box-set which includes delicious digitally enhanced live footage of the fab four performing to screaming teenage girls – you know the footage. Imagine if those fans had smartphones in their hands? I began to reflect on some recordings of live music that I have personally deposited into the care of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

During the late 1990s, my then-partner Campbell Walker and I filmed various live gigs, including a project to make a documentary about the work of Peter Jefferies. Peter had been part of legendary underground bands Nocturnal Projections and This Kind of Punishment, before enjoying a substantial solo career, and he was returning to his home-town of Stratford. There is a fantastic interview with Peter on AudioCulture here

Peter_Jefferies
Peter Jefferies at the Wild Horse, Palmerston North

Peter had returned to New Zealand to spend some time with his mother and was touring New Zealand as a one man band. He had developed a technique for drumming and playing the piano at the same time.

We were both keen fans of all of Peter’s work (later naming our first feature length film Uncomfortable Comfortable from one of his song lyrics) and took time out to travel with him on his nationwide tour. Although the documentary project was left uncompleted, over twenty hours of material was filmed.

Recording live music gigs – in my experience – is like filming a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary. The main purpose of the camera is there to record the event. Frustratingly, you will have little control over lighting, sound or even physical movements of the musicians or members of the audience. Being flexible is definitely an advantage.

Dimmer_Set_800dpi
An audience member throws her beer over me and the camera at the Peter Jefferies and Shayne Carter gig.

We had an old Panasonic SVHS camera. Anybody remember those? This was one of those chunky style camcorders that you could easily rest on your shoulder for stability. I used to heavily manipulate the manual zoom and focus rings – I guess that became my “signature style”, a style mostly created to deal with the low light conditions, and my dislike of tripods and automatic settings.

Image of Panasonic Video Camera
Image from Media College

One of the highlights of the tour was being there to film the supporting performance by Michael Morley (like Peter, a stalwart of the Xpressway record label and band member of The Dead C) at Gate in Timaru.

There had been some miscommunication and the event had not been publicised, resulting in an audience of one who had seen Peter the night before in Dunedin and followed us up. In the spirit of “the show must go on” the performance continued regardless. In true noise-musician style Morley made good use of the squeaky metal framed chair that he was sitting on to augment the sound-scape, the film thereby capturing a unique musical moment.

Michael Morley at Empire Hotel in Timaru, 1998, Ref. F84829
Michael Morley at Empire Hotel in Timaru, 1998, Ref. F84829

For a period I’d often find myself behind the camera filming gigs for friends in the independent music scene. Recording almost anything at the ‘old’ Bar Bodega in Willis Street, Wellington always presented a challenge. Bodega was the back room of an old villa and had one corner of the room dedicated to a small stage. Here, recording a performance by American musician Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) playing with local alt-country band, The Renderers, proved a challenge.

I was off-stage and there were around six people plus equipment on stage. The room was packed with audience members and it was very difficult to get any sight-lines – everything was close, murky, sticky with sweat and the sound distorted to hell. All this comes through on the audience point-of-view film, capturing an essence of the place, band and time.

At other times, because of the throng of the crowd the best angle was achieved by being snuggled right in on the stage with the band. This was the case with the recording of Roy Montgomery (Dadamah, Pin Group), Peter Jefferies and Bruce Russell (former head of RNZ Sound Archives, Xpressway Records and member of The Dead C) at the old Dux de Lux venue in Christchurch. The sound was usually fairly distorted as you’d be practically sitting on a large speaker. When forced to a position on stage you unconsciously became part of the performance – who was that chick on stage with a camera?

Looking back over the footage, it’s a pity we didn’t get more shots of the crowd, but the low-light conditions would have made that difficult. The sound quality is not great either, because of the challenges with relying on the in-camera microphone. However, there is something unique captured by the rawness of the footage, the thrill of the event and the magic of the on-stage performance.

This clip shows a trippy variation of the Dimmer single Evolution with Shayne Carter and Peter Jefferies at the legendary Auckland Venue, Luna

Plunket-Feature-Image

Happy Birthday Plunket !

By Sarah Johnston (Senior Client Access Liaison – Takawaenga ā-Iwi Matua, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision)

The Plunket Society turned 110 years old this month.  One of New Zealand’s most famous institutions,  “The Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children” was founded at a public meeting in Dunedin in May 1907 by Dr Frederic Truby King.

It was re-named The Plunket Society after one of its early supporters, Lady Plunket, the wife of the governor-general at the time.

 You can hear Sarah Johnston from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about recordings about Plunket here or read more and listen to the full recordings at the links below.

Truby King and Madelaine
Andrew, Stanley Polkinghorne, 1878-1964. Truby King and Madelaine. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 8. Ref: PAColl-6075-16. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23127422

Kate Challis Hooper trained as an early Karitane nurse at Truby King’s first hospital at Anderson’s Bay near Dunedin in 1915.  In this interview from 1961 she vividly describes the rather spartan conditions for nurses and babies, but also her enthusiasm for Dr King’s work, “helping mothers and saving babies.”

Kate Challis Hooper recalls the early days (1961, Ref. 2074) Listen to complete item here.

It seems nowhere was too remote for Plunket.  Mrs Beryl Sutherland, who raised her family near Milford Sound in the 1930s (as her husband worked on building the Homer Tunnel),  recalls getting a welcome visit from Plunket in her remote location.

Life at the Homer Tunnel during the 1930s (1970, Ref 2083) Listen to complete item here.

In 1952, the magazine programme, “Radio Digest” visited Plunket’s  Karitane Hospital at Melrose in Wellington to mark it’s 25th anniversary and broadcaster David Kohn interviewed nurses as well as a resident mother, who had been enjoying Plunket’s care so much she was reluctant to go home!

Radio Digest No. 149 (1952, Ref 2087) Listen to complete item here.

Plunket Book cover 1937
Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children :”Plunket Society”. Baby record; Plunket nurse’s advice to mothers. “To help the mothers and save the babies” [Front cover. 1936]. Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children :”Plunket Society” Baby record; Plunket nurse’s advice to mothers. “To help the mothers and save the babies” [Printed by] C S W Dunedin. O6979 – 9/36 [1936]. Ref: Eph-A-CHILD-1936-01-front. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23078909
AhiparaFeature

Solving a Mystery: The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade

- By Lawrence Wharerau (Kaiwhakataki: Programme Coordinator, Māori, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

I have an affinity with Northland – I love the bush, the people and the sea too, and it’s not just because I’m from down them ways. One of my favourite places on earth is Ahipara, by the sea at the southern end of Te Oneroa a Tohe aka Ninety Mile Beach and sheltered by the Tauroa Peninsular to the west. The Herekino Forest has its eastern flank and it is 14kms northeast to Kaitaia, with Pukepoto in between. Shipwreck and Ahipara Bays are famous surf spots and they were once popular places for gathering toheroa.

Some years ago (as in over 15 years ago), I was going through the film collection at The Film Archive (as Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision was then known), when I came across an amateur film called Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade, circa 1955, which piqued my interest. I had never heard of this brigade and initial enquiries gave little evidence about what they were about nor who these women were. At the time I was curating for a ten marae screening tour of Northland for the project Te Hokinga Mai o Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua ki Ngāpuhi.

The Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.
The Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade. Back row: Harriet Pure, Hinemoa Te Paa, Linda Curie, Doris Hales. Middle row: Api Kīngi, Joyce Hunt, Jackie Saunders, Mary Hanlon. Front row: Peggy Adams, Agnes Rakich. (Photo by Bruce Rogers, supplied courtesy of Te Ahu Museum and Archive, Kaitaia.)

The seven-minute film starts with a wide shot overlooking Ahipara from the top of Whangatauatia Mountain, which dominates the environs to the south of the seaside village and is the gateway to the Ahipara gumfields. Then it shows several of the brigade members going about normal domestic duties: hanging washing, ironing, gardening, and the like. Cut to a rubbish pile on fire, a call is made to the local fire station, the klaxon fire alarm is activated, and then it’s all on. It’s down tools and aprons and a mad rush to ready the fire tenders, a Land Rover with trailer and a flat-bed truck, packing the required equipment, and heading off to the incident. Hoses are run out and the fire is attended to with a crowd looking on.

Ahipara Women's Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).
Ahipara Women’s Fire Brigade (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1965).

You can watch the film on our online catalogue, here

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Happy St Patrick’s Day!

To get in the spirit for Ireland’s national day you can listen to this “Spectrum” radio documentary from 1996, about Auckland’s St Patrick’s Festival.

 

Dancers at the Irish National Feis, Kilbirnie, Wellington - Photograph taken by John Nicholson. Dominion post (Newspaper) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1986/5281/18-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23030957
Dancers at the Irish National Feis, Kilbirnie, Wellington – photograph taken by John Nicholson. Dominion post: photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1986/5281/18-F. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23030957

 

Or tune in to Sarah Johnston talking to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about Irish recordings in our Sound Collection.