Flying Nun lands in 100 year old Alexander Turnbull Library

13 July 2018: Flying Nun lands in 100 year old Alexander Turnbull Library

The Alexander Turnbull Library will be striking a chord with music fans this week, after Flying Nun Record’s collection of master tapes touches down safely in its protective vaults. The Turnbull Library is a part of the National Library of New Zealand.

Flying Nun Records, the iconic New Zealand music label, is donating many hundreds of master tapes from recordings made between 1981 to the mid-2000s, to the Turnbull Library’s Archive of New Zealand Music. The collection includes tracks from legendary New Zealand artists such as The Chills, The Bats, The Verlaines, Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, Look Blue Go Purple, Sneaky Feelings, Headless Chickens, and Bailter Space, amongst others.

The donation is a major event that marks the beginning of the Library’s centenary period, 100 years since the original donation by Alexander Turnbull himself.

“The music of Flying Nun is a huge part of our culture and was significant in forging important music connections internationally,” says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, who announced the acquisition. “It’s important for New Zealand that these tapes will be preserved, both physically and digitally, and adds to the Flying Nun collection already in the library. It is a wonderful acquisition to celebrate the centenary of Alexander Turnbull’s donation of his collection to the people of New Zealand.”

Many of the master tapes are in fragile condition or on obsolete formats and require urgent preservation. The Library will digitally preserve all of the recordings over the next three years so that this unique part of New Zealand’s music heritage remains safe and accessible.

Curator Music for the Library, Michael Brown, says that there has been growing excitement at the Library since discussions began early last year with Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd, ONZM, and Co-Director Ben Howe.

“The Library is honoured to be entrusted with this hugely important music collection”, he says.

“Flying Nun has consulted with artists about the project, which has been important to its success so far. We’re committed to protecting all the artists’ rights inherent in the material. And, once the masters have been preserved and digitised, we’re really looking forward to working with Flying Nun on future reissues of the music, exhibitions and other opportunities. We expect this collection will significantly enhance research into New Zealand music.”

Roger Shepherd says that the Alexander Turnbull Library was Flying Nun’s choice as the best place to hold this collection. “The Turnbull Library was a natural choice, because it has first-class preservation and research facilities, and was also willing to work with our artists to make their amazing and well-loved music accessible and still preserve all their rights.”

The Archive of New Zealand Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library was established in 1974 by composer Douglas Lilburn and contains the largest collection of archival material relating to New Zealand music and musicians. It sits alongside the largest public collection of published New Zealand and Pacific recordings, also in the Library’s collections.

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Notes for reporters

Flying Nun artists from 1981 to the mid-2000s

The 3Ds

Able Tasmans

Alpaca Brothers

The 3Ds

Able Tasmans

Alpaca Brothers

The Axemen

Bailter Space

Ballon D’Essai

The Bats


Bird Nest Roys

Bored Games

Breathing Cage

Bressa Creeting Cake

The Cakekitchen

Childrens Hour

The Chills



Double Happys

Dribbling Darts of Love

Eight Living Legs

Eric Glandy Memorial Band

The Expendables

Exploding Budgies, The

Fall, The

Fatal Jelly Space


The Fold


Goblin Mix

The Gordons


Headless Chickens

Chris Heazlewood

Jane and the Magick Heads

Jay Clarkson

Jean-Paul Sartre Experience

King Loser

Chris Knox

Look Blue Go Purple

Loves Ugly Children

Fiona McDonald

Mainly Spaniards

Marching Orders

Marie and the Atom

Martin Phillipps

Max Block

The Moas


Netherworld Dancing Toys


The Orange

Phantom Fourth

The Puddle

The Renderers

Scorched Earth Policy



Sneaky Feelings

Solid Gold Hell

The Spines

The Stones

Straitjacket Fits

The Sumbliminals


Tall Dwarfs


The Terminals

They Were Expendable

This is Heaven

This Sporting Life


The Verlaines

The Vibraslaps

The Weeds