Oral history advice
Oral history collections
The Oral History and Sound collection is part of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
There are more than 10,000 recordings in the collection. Recordings include interviews with people from throughout New Zealand and the Pacific, of various ethnicities, iwi (tribe) and hapū (sub-tribe), occupations, political affiliations and interests. Talks, readings and events are also covered.
Most of the collection has been recorded since the 1960s. The collection covers New Zealand society, culture, community, and political history from the late 19th century to the present.
Specialist staff can advise on conducting oral history interviews, recording, planning and organising oral history projects, including ethical and technical aspects. Our Oral History Adviser, Māori, works with groups and individuals carrying out oral history interviews with Māori.
Oral history workshops
We offer weekend training workshops, including bilingual workshops, for people using oral history in work, community or personal projects.
The tutor for Wellington workshops is oral history advisor Lynette Shum. Similar weekend or weekday workshops can also be organised around the country on request.
The Oral History Adviser, Māori, also runs workshops for iwi, hapū and community groups around the country on request. These workshops use video and may be bilingual.
The essentials of oral history research
A two-day workshop that introduces you to doing oral history, and then builds your interviewing and recording skills. Learn how to plan a project, choose the best equipment, make good recordings, follow ethical procedures, and much more.
Abstracting oral history
The abstract is a comprehensive time-coded summary, which serves as a guide to the oral history researcher. Practice the comprehension and editing skills needed to compile a reliable and usable abstract.
Completion of an essentials of oral history research course, or a recent equivalent introductory course, is recommended but not required.
Introduction to oral history with video recording: Māori-English bilingual course
A two-day workshop that introduces you to Māori research methodologies, finding and using the best equipment, procedures, recording clearly, and much more.
Recording and interviewing exercises on specific topics and group reviews are a significant focus.
Abstracting oral history: Māori-English bilingual course
Hone your listening and comprehension skills and learn how to make an abstract in te reo Māori. The abstract is a comprehensive time-coded summary that serves as a guide to the oral history researcher.
The course also includes a review of interviews recorded since the first workshop.
Get funding for oral history training
The Jack Ilott Oral History Education Operating Fund exists to promote standards in oral history. Grants of up to $500 may be made to assist with training.
Get recording equipment
We have recording equipment available for hire in the Wellington region. We offer digital recorders (Zoom H5 with AKG C417pp lapel microphones).
Equipment can be hired for $10 a day or $50 for a week, and may be returned by courier.
Booking equipment for the first time? We’ll start you with a free one-on-one training session with the Oral History Adviser. Email Lynette.Shum@dia.govt.nz or call 462 3977.
Once you’ve had a training session, you can make a booking request directly by calling the Heritage Advice Coordinator on 04 462 3935.
Use these documents for recording agreements, interviewee information, and recommendations.
- Comprehensive guidelines for the style and content of oral history abstracts deposited in the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Oral History collections.
- Use this form any time you make a recording. It is essential to the ethical practice of oral history, and allows the interviewee to determine how they will allow their interview to be used. Complete this at the end of the interview.
- Fill in with your interviewee. Encourage them to only include details they are comfortable releasing.
- Use this when creating your abstract.
- Questions to ask yourself when looking for a repository to hold your recording and associated materials. It's good to think about this and discuss with your preferred repository while planning your project.
- Guidelines to help you create digital records, or prepare them for transfer to the Alexander Turnbull Library after you have spoken to the Curator.
- If you need recommendations for digital equipment to use for oral history work, contact the Adviser through the Ask a Librarian form
- How to use the Zoom H5 recorder, from start to finish
- The NPO can also help with other preservation questions.
The National Oral History Association of New Zealand Te Kete Korero-a-Waha o Te Motu (NOHANZ) fosters professional standards in oral history, and brings together those interested in oral history.
NOHANZ produced the Recording Agreement Form and explanatory notes above. Please contact them if you have any feedback on the form or notes.