ATL100 New collections

Throughout our ATL100 centenary celebrations we will be profiling major new additions to the Alexander Turnbull Library collections. These acquisitions build on the legacy of Alexander Turnbull’s original goal to collect… 'anything whatever relating to this Colony, on its history, flora, fauna, geology & inhabitants, will be fish for my net, from as early a date as possible until now'. When Turnbull died there were over 55,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals and newspapers in his personal library; which he bequeathed to the people of New Zealand as the nucleus of a national collection.


Flying Nun Records: Collection

July 2018

The iconic New Zealand record label Flying Nun Records has donated their collection of open-reel master tapes and other recordings to the Alexander Turnbull Library. This donation represents the first major acquisition of the ATL100 Centenary.

Flying Nun Records founder Roger Shepherd with a portion of the nearly 1,200 items included in this donation.  Photo: Mark Beatty, ATL Imaging ServicesFlying Nun Records founder Roger Shepherd with a portion of the nearly 1,200 items included in this donation. Photo: Mark Beatty, ATL Imaging Services

An internationally-significant label, Flying Nun Records was established in 1981 by Roger Shepherd. Initially tapping into the abundant creativity of the post-punk music scene, early groups for the label include The Chills, The Bats, The Verlaines, The Clean, Sneaky Feelings, Tall Dwarfs, Look Blue Go Purple, and many others. The label and its artists have had major and ongoing cultural impact in New Zealand, as well as contributing to the global development of alternative popular music. The entry for Flying Nun in the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World concludes: “For many, especially the overseas followers of alternative music, Flying Nun is a metonym for New Zealand music as a whole”.

The donation comprises almost 1,200 individual items, including masters on open-reel magnetic tape, multitracks, demos, and live recordings, dating from 1981 until the mid-2000s. Not all Flying Nun-related master material is included, but this collection represents the largest extant group of recordings. The Library expects to digitise and preserve all of the materials, both the content of the tapes and the tape housings (which are a rich source of information), within three years. This will ensure the long-term preservation of and access to these important recordings, allowing them to be available for remastering and reissuing, and for research purposes. The collection will progressively become available as it is described, digitised and re-housed, but it will be some time before the entire collection is fully accessible.

The Flying Nun donation will become part of the Archive of New Zealand Music, the world’s largest archive of unpublished material relating to New Zealand music and musicians. The Library already holds copies of most Flying Nun releases, as well as associated oral histories and many hundreds of posters.

If you have any enquiries, please use our Ask a Librarian form. Find out how you can donate or bequest an item to our collections on our Donations page.

Flying Nun releases in the New Zealand and Pacific published collection

Flying Nun posters in the Ephemera collection

The Dunedin Double EP oral history project

Media release

The Flying Nun Foundation

L: Examples of the 2” master tapes that will be digitised. R: Flying Nun co-directors Ben Howe and Roger Shepherd, with Michael Brown, Music Curator.  Photo: Mark Beatty, ATL Imaging ServicesL: Examples of the 2” master tapes that will be digitised. R: Flying Nun co-directors Ben Howe and Roger Shepherd, with Michael Brown, Music Curator. Photo: Mark Beatty, ATL Imaging Services

Reel-to-reel tape recordings. Photo: Mark Beatty, ATL Imaging ServicesReel-to-reel tape recordings. Photo: Mark Beatty, ATL Imaging Services

By Michael Brown

Michael Brown is Music Curator at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

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