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Oral history advice

Whether you are starting out with oral history or want to hone your skills further, we can help with advice, workshops, and equipment.

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.

About the Oral History collections

Advisory services

Specialist staff can advise on conducting oral history interviews, recording, planning and organising oral history projects, including ethical and technical aspects.

Contact us through Ask a librarian

Oral history workshops

We offer training 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.

Our hands-on training is based on the principles enshrined in the National Oral History Association of New Zealand (NOHANZ)’s Code of Ethical and Technical Practice, and international archival standards.

Download information about our workshops (pdf, 1.2MB)

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.

Workshop documents

Participating in an oral history workshop? Grab these downloads.

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.

Jack Ilott Oral History Education Operating Fund

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.

First time bookings

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 04 462 3977

Booked our equipment before

Once you’ve had a training session, you can make a booking request directly by calling the Heritage Advice Coordinator on 04 462 3935.

Resources for oral history

Use these documents for recording agreements, interviewee information, and recommendations.

Guidelines for abstracting oral history

Comprehensive guidelines for the style and content of oral history abstracts deposited in the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Oral History collections.

Guidelines for abstracting oral history (pdf, 326KB)

Recording agreement form

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.

Interviewee information form

Fill in with your interviewee. Encourage them to only include details they are comfortable releasing.

Interviewee Information form (pdf, 11KB)

Abstract template

Use this template to create your abstract.

Abstract template (docx, 53KB)

Selecting a repository

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.

Selecting a repository (pdf, 88KB)

Guidelines for creating digital records

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

Digital recommendations (pdf, 76KB)

Using the Zoom H5 recorder

How to use the Zoom H5 recorder, from start to finish.

Watch the Using Zoom H5 for oral history tutorial (Vimeo, 8:05 mins)

National Oral History Association of New Zealand Te Kete Korero-a-Waha o Te Motu

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.

National Oral History Association of New Zealand Te Kete Korero-a-Waha o Te Motu (NOHANZ)

Need help?

The National Preservation office can also help with other preservation questions. Use one of the contact methods below to contact us for advice about digitising oral history materials.

Contact us

Ask a librarian

Email — preservation@dia.govt.nz

Give us a call

Other oral history services