The amazing home movie collection

The collection of Ngā Taonga holds thousands of home movies – ‘Personal Records’ as they are known. Hundreds of these are available to watch in our online catalogue. Compared to other international archives, Ngā Taonga has actively collected and catalogued home movies. These provide a huge amount of information about New Zealand society over the decades.

The oldest home movie that we have accurately dated is of the Hinge Family from 1910. Leslie Hinge was a well known photographer and in this recording he films himself and his well-dressed family in the garden of their home. At the dawn of the 20th century, film was a new and expensive technology which meant it was used by very few amateurs. Professional camera-people may have filmed domestic scenes, but compared with footage they could sell, would they develop this material and hold onto it?

From Personal Record. Lambourne, AD. The Younger Generation or Chips off the Old Block (F26612).

As prices decreased and equipment became increasingly available, the 1940s to 1970s was a golden age of home movies. These are characterised by scenes of life at home: birthdays, special events, action in the kitchen and garden. There’s also a huge amount of holiday footage: families in caravans, at campsites, in boats and visiting popular holiday spots in New Zealand and abroad. The 1953-54 visit by the Queen is very well represented, too.

Home movies can also include the unexpected, such as blowing bubbles, falling down some stairs, and, ahem, burning computer equipment.

From Personal Record. Unknown. [Maungaroa; Te Kaha] (F253963).
Following the widespread use of small-gauge film (8mm, Super 8 and 16mm), videotape technology became more popular during the 1980s. As it stands, Ngā Taonga and other archives have very few videotape-based home movies from this era – in fact only two of the hundreds viewable online. These tapes may currently be boxed in attics and sheds. Their owners may also consider that the contents would not be of interest to archives – this is absolutely not the case. Please get in touch with us if you are interested in depositing material.

Do people still make home movies today? With almost everyone having a device with limitless recording potential in their pocket, the number of photos and videos created has accelerated dramatically. These may then become a Facebook post or an Instagram Story, seen by many just after the event occurred. With the increasing ability to record and share these events, perhaps there is less of a need to gather everyone together to show them something – they’ve already been watching.

How do you share your ‘home movie’-type moments today?


View our home movie collection.

Information about the personal records in our collection has been catalogued by a number of people, including Kathy Dudding, Jane Paul and Zak Reddan. We are grateful for their work.

From Personal Record. Stott, HN. [Tulips And Gardiner’s Party] (F26969).
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