Talking pictures

October 27th marks UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. The event aims to help raise awareness of the significance of AV documents and to draw attention to the need to safeguard them, with this year’s theme being “Saving Our Heritage for the Next Generation”.

Audiovisual materials include all forms of video and sound recordings. Collecting and preserving New Zealand’s AV heritage is core business for the Library so I thought I’d take the opportunity to showcase some of the online digital AV items that we’ve been busy collecting and archiving recently. To learn more about the preservation and digitisation of analogue AV materials see this series of photos on our Facebook page.

Over the past five to ten years, the Electronic Publications team has focused on online music and web-harvesting, which you can read about in a previous blog post. However, as new publishing methods emerge that embrace different platforms and technologies, we’ve responded with new ways to collect and preserve the growing range of AV materials.

For example, we have recently started selectively collecting online videos around specific topics like live music and the arts. We’re also archiving videos that relate to important events in NZ culture and society, such as the Christchurch earthquake and subsequent rebuilding process, and the Rena oil spill. Another selection priority has been collecting AV material that supports Library exhibitions. For example, this year’s Revolting! exhibition saw us collect a range of AV material relating to NZ protest music.

This type of born digital content is often independently produced and only available online, lending it to being at greater risk to loss and therefore highly important to collect and preserve while it’s still available.

I’ve highlighted some of the recent AV acquisitions that we’ve made below; these are mainly music oriented (I am a music selector!) but they provide a good example of the type of content we are collecting and its importance to NZ’s cultural record.

Punk-fest 99

As part of the recent 2013 Up The Punks exhibition, the Library managed to acquire a range of ephemera (flyers, posters, etc.) related to the Wellington punk scene. Supplementary to that we also downloaded and archived a range of archival videos including this 3 part documentary of Punk-fest 99, held in Wellington.

The footage may be a bit grainy but it’s a testament to the Punk-fest community that it was kept and subsequently made digitally available. Perhaps having hardcopies on tape aided it’s longevity as opposed to being born-digital.

The documentary is a great view into the punk scene in Wellington in the late 90’s and particularly poignant to me, as I was there. Watching the footage instantly takes me back to my late teens, studying at Victoria University where a good night out would often involve listening to music at a friend’s before heading out to a cheap BYO restaurant (the $5 Roti Chennai at Ban Dong on Cuba was our regular) and ending the night at Thistle Hall, Bodega, or Valve for a live gig.

Collection record | See the archived copy


Ship Happens / animated by Oomph media

The Rena oil spill off the coast of Tauranga on Wednesday 5th October 2011 is another event that we’ve documented. This disaster generated a lot of controversy at the time and there were a number of online videos posted by a range of sources like musicians, iwi, conservationists, and volunteers.

This light-hearted animation is one such example of the AV resources that we have in the archive. The Library also holds a range of other Rena-related documentation, including images, cartoons, articles and archived web-resources, and if you search in the catalogue for “rena oil” that should bring up most of them.

Collection record | See the archived copy


27 minutes with Mr Noisy: A documentary about Bruce Russell

This is a great little documentary on one of New Zealand’s pioneering noise (or as he prefers “sound”) artists, Bruce Russell. Bruce is probably most well known as a founding member of Dunedin band The Dead C but he also set up and ran the Xpressway label which featured artists such as Alastair Galbraith, The Terminals and, of course, The Dead C themselves.

The documentary was made by Olive Russell, Bruce’s 16-year-old daughter and features him talking about his work with The Dead C, other projects, as well as life in the Dunedin scene in the 1980s.

It’s a relatively new acquisition to our collection and hasn’t yet been catalogued but should be available in the next month or so. In the meantime it's available on Vimeo, and rest assured that when it disappears from their site, we’ll have a copy safely stored in the National Digital Heritage Archive.

Watch on Vimeo


By Sholto Duncan

Sholto is a Web Archivist, responsible for locating and collecting digital music and other music-related digital media.

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Chris Anderson October 29th at 11:26AM

This is excellent, Sholto, thank you! A very interesting range of topics covered, the Christchurch footage makes for sobering viewing. Cheers, Chris Anderson.