New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 Collection

The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, recorded by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service’s Mobile Unit, was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand Register of Documentary Heritage at a ceremony in Christchurch yesterday. A number of our Christchurch-based staff were excited to be there for the festivities.

Karen Neill (Head of Partnerships, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) speaks at the ceremony for the inscription.
Karen Neill (Head of Partnerships, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) speaks at the ceremony for the inscription. [Ceremony images by Marie O’Connell]

The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection is a unique assemblage of broadcast oral histories recorded by the Mobile Unit around regional New Zealand after World War II. The recordings include accounts of New Zealand life as far back as the 1850s. The collection is now cared for by our sound archiving team in Christchurch.

Along with the The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, A Korao no New Zealand (or The New Zealander’s first book, held at the Auckland Museum), and Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s Church Missionary Society Records (1808 - c.1900, held at the Hocken Library) were at listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register.
Along with the The New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection, A Korao no New Zealand (or The New Zealander’s first book, held at the Auckland Museum), and Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s Church Missionary Society Records (1808 – c.1900, held at the Hocken Library) were at listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register. In this photo representatives from the three organisations receive their awards. The central figure is Sir Tipene O’Regan.

Sir Tipene O’Regan, chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board, was guest speaker at the inscription ceremony. He explained how the Mobile Unit recordings, such as those made in 1948 of the Karitane Māori choir, evoke powerful memories of whānau and iwi connections.

Presentation on the New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection at the inscription ceremony.
Presentation on the New Zealand Oral History 1946-1948 collection at the inscription ceremony.

Among other memories recalled in the recordings are: the Taranaki Wars, the early days of the frozen meat trade, the first thistle and first rabbits seen in Otago, the Chinese miners’ use of opium, the first bicycle – which frightened horses – and the coming of electric power.

The certificate of inscription.
The certificate of inscription.

In this recording from the collection Mrs Fullarton, who was interviewed in Port Chalmers in 1948, recalls the impractical fashions of her childhood in the 1860s:

[Archival audio from the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz]

 

In the clip below, CTV – Canterbury Television visits the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Christchurch branch. They speak to staff Karen Neill and John Kelcher, who play one of the discs in the collection for them.

The peacetime Mobile Unit truck, c. 1946-7. Image courtesy of SANTK.
The New Zealand Broadcasting Service’s Mobile Unit truck.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is committed to preserving this special collection, which is a crucial part of all New Zealanders’ shared cultural inheritance, for generations to come.