A soundtrack to recovery

The story of what was

Yesterday was UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, so it’s a fitting time to once again reflect on the importance of preserving audiovisual documents as an integral part of our national identity.

It can sometimes take a life-changing event such as a war, great fire or natural disaster, like the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, to make us realise the importance and vulnerability of recorded sights and sounds that document the history of everyday life in a society.

Collection of audio and visual material can help tell the story of what was. That story is found in everyday events and key moments in Christchurch’s past, in locations and landmarks that sadly no longer exist, or have been dramatically changed forever.

The creation of the new

While major disasters like the Christchurch earthquakes are a time to mourn and reflect on the past, they also provide a new start, spurring the creation of new, audiovisual media, digitally born and published online as events unfold. Firsthand accounts of such events are now often posted via Twitter or Facebook, and videos uploaded to YouTube, in order to document events in real time.

People also create new websites to provide public information, record stories and document events. Many of these have been captured and archived by the Library and we’ve created an index of archived digital media relating to the Canterbury Earthquakes.

Creative communities, such as local musicians and composers, are also sparked into action following such events, creating touching tributes or providing music to aid with charity drives, like this compilation of songs by artists to raise money for the Christchurch earthquake relief. Many musicians and listeners, especially those personally affected by disaster, see music as a means of reflection or as vehicle to begin the healing process and move forwards.

To get a great insight into the way the earthquakes affected the Christchurch music scene and how these musicians embraced this upheaval, check out Town Like Here , a documentary by Greta Yeoman. We are currently archiving this along with a series of videos produced by Greta under the Town Like Here moniker, which showcase some of the live performances taking place throughout post-quake Christchurch.

This newly generated cluster of event-related audiovisual media adds a new layer to New Zealand’s historical timeline, and continues the story that earlier sights and sounds tell of our past as a nation through triumph and adversity.

Holding our audiovisual heritage safely

Here is a selection of earthquake-related online music videos we intend to add to our collections. If you come across any other related music videos that you think we should archive please drop us a line on ATL-Online-Acquisitions@dia.govt.nz.

CHur to the CHur (te reo Māori) / Maitreya, 2010


Music video for Maitreya's track ‘CHur to the CHur’, a homage to Christchurch/Ōtautahi in the aftermath of the 2010 Canterbury Earthquake. This song was released as a track on the EP: Chur to the chur relief EP.

The remix version of this track was also performed at the Band Together – Concert for Canterbury in October 2010.

Not many cities / Scribe, 2011

Watch on The Storyboard

A remake of Scribe's double platinum record ‘Not many’, this version is a tribute to the resilience of Cantabrians, celebrating the incredible spirit of these people and their determination to rebuild their great city. The video shows Scribe riding through various parts of the destroyed Christchurch CBD interlaced with shots of local people and businesses.

Screenshot from the Not Many Cities video, showing Scribe in front of the damaged Cathedral.

As one / Restoration, 2011

Music video of the song ‘As one’, performed by the group Restoration as a tribute to the city of Christchurch following the earthquakes. The introduction features opening speech made by John Key.

Screenshot from video of 'As one', showing two Christchurch residents.

The letting go / The Eastern, 2012


Video clip to the song ‘The letting go’, performed by The Eastern from their album Hope and wire. The video focuses on post earthquake scenes from their hometown of Lyttelton.

Red zone / Blacked Out C-City, 2014


Hip hop song about living in the Red Zone after the earthquake, by Christchurch underground rap collective Blacked Out C-City.

Solid ground / Paper Cranes 折り鶴, 2014


This film for ‘Solid ground’ was produced by Signal Films, using documentary footage. The track is about finding your strength in community; about putting hope in the things that matter – whānau, friends, husbands and wives, your faith; about standing tall with others when things are hard. It's about renewal and hope.

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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