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Archive of New Zealand Music

Details of images from the music collections, showing a man playing guitar on stage, members of the Ngati Poneke group, and violinists.
L-R: Photo of Unknown Mortal Orchestra by Wendy Collings (2013). Ref: PADL-001042. | Ngāti Pōneke concert party (ca 1930s). Ref: 1/2-180935-F. | Violinists Olwen Castle and Silvia Roberts, with Vincent Aspey (ca 1954) . Ref: PAColl-6303-15.

The Archive of New Zealand Music is the world's largest archive of unpublished material relating to New Zealand music and musicians.

The Archive collects and preserves New Zealand's music heritage, making it accessible now and into the future.

It holds hundreds of unique collections that document the rich variety of our musical life, from the works of composers and musicians through to music education, broadcasting and criticism.

The Archive contains:

  • Music scores and lyric sheets
  • Over 12,000 unpublished sound and video recordings
  • Correspondence, manuscripts, and diaries
  • Scrapbooks and clippings
  • Organisational and company records
  • Photographs
  • Posters, programmes, and other ephemera
  • Oral histories
  • Musicological research papers

We established the Archive of New Zealand Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1974, at the suggestion of composer Douglas Lilburn.

Published music recordings and scores are held in the New Zealand Music, Sound, Audiovisual collection.

Access the Archive of New Zealand Music

You can find collection items in the Archive using Tiaki. You can order and access items from the Archive through the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room at the National Library building in Wellington. Some digitised items are available to view online.

To preserve original items, we make sound and video materials accessible through surrogate copies. Please request these and other material in advance by contacting us or using the "Request to view" button on collection item pages in Tiaki.

Get copies of items in this collection

You can get copies of items in this collection if donor restrictions and copyright allow. You can order photocopies, digital photographs or audiovisual copies by letter, phone or email.

More about making copies

More about copyright and privacy

Members of troopship orchestra, ca 1940
Detail, Members of troopship orchestra (ca 1940). Ref: DA-00980-F.

What's in the Archive of New Zealand Music collections?

You’ll find all musical styles and genres in the Archive. Among the many highlights are collections relating to:

Classical composers

The Archive holds the personal collections of many prominent New Zealand composers, including:

Opening bars of Douglas Lilburn’s Overture: Aotearoa
Detail, Opening bars of Douglas Lilburn’s Overture: Aotearoa (1940). Ref: fMS-Papers-2483-048.

These collections include scores together with personal papers, correspondence, and photographs. We also hold the records of organisations related to music composition, including:

Concert music

The work of many notable New Zealand concert performers, patrons, critics, and mentors is represented in the Archive through personal collections, including those of:

Details of three images: Bandsman in Wanganui Rifle Volunteers; Oscar Natzka; New Zealand International Exhibition Orchestra
L-R: Bandsman in Wanganui Rifle Volunteers (ca late 1800s). Ref: 1/4-004894-G. | Oscar Natzka (1949). Ref: PAColl-7796-24. | New Zealand International Exhibition Orchestra 1906-1907. Eph-C-MUSIC-1907-01-inside.

You will also find the records of many musical organisations in the Archive. Notable examples include:

Popular music

Many performers have contributed to the development of New Zealand popular music. We hold collections of papers relating to significant performing artists, including:

Three images: Maria Dallas performing on stage; Poster for the Variety Round Up with Johnny Cooper; Poster for Live Dead Clean.
L-R: Detail, Photo by Barry Clothier of Maria Dallas (1966). Ref: PA-Group-00671. | Detail, New Zealand Tour Variety Round-Up (1957). Ref: Eph-E-CABOT-Variety-1957-01. | Kilgour, Hamish: Live Dead Clean (1986). Ref: Eph-D-PHONO-1986-02.

The Archive also contains substantial collections of demos, master tapes, and unpublished recordings from labels, studios and radio stations, including:

Māori music

You will find a range of collections relating to Māori music in the Archive, including:

Further collections relating to Māori music are held in the Manuscripts Collection, significant examples including the research papers of:

Pacific Island music

We also hold collections relating to Pacific Island music, including field recordings, research papers, and song texts. Notable collections include:

Jazz and folk

The Archive contains rich holdings relating to New Zealand jazz history. These collections include unpublished recordings, research papers, and radio scripts, important examples being:

Three images: Jazz horn musicians, a singer with accompaniment, folk musicians in a cafe.
L-R: Orchestra rehearsing for a jazz concert (1956). Ref: EP/1956/0544-F. | Joy Yates (1979). Ref: PA1-q-1153. | Three people in the Monde Marie coffee bar (ca 1968). Ref: EP-Industry-Restaurants-M-R-01.

Folk music is also well-represented in the Archive through field and concert recordings, scores, posters, and folk-club records. Notable collections include:

Sonic arts and experimental music

We hold a large body of material relating to experimental music, free improvisation, and sonic arts, including:

Music education

Here you will find collections relating to musical education, including the papers of notable music teachers, such as:

The Archive also holds the records of the Wellington Branch of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers of New Zealand.

Musicologists, librarians, and collectors

Many New Zealand music writers have deposited their research papers with the Archive, including:

Other notable collections were donated by:

Music recordings and oral history

You will find thousands of unpublished New Zealand music recordings in the Archive’s collections, across all genres from classical, Māori and Pacific Island, to rock, folk and jazz, along with oral history. Audiovisual media range from acetate discs through to open-reel tapes and born digital files. Further music-related recordings are held in the Oral History and Sound collection, including:

Three images: Label of Blue Smoke; Bill Direen cassette tape; Waveform of Joe Dukie and DJ Fitcher's Seconds.
L-R: Blue smoke / Ruru Karaitiana Quartet (ca 1948). Ref. MSD12-0644. | Bill Direen, Orientation Tour Candidate (1990). Ref. MSC-021419. | Seconds / Joe Dukie and DJ Fitchie [2005]. Ref: Phono q6284.