We are destroyers rather than hoarders of our past...
Recently discovered this passage in Joanne Dryton's Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love (pg9) that stopped me in my tracks as she perfectly sums up the fate of so much of New Zealand's television output, and sadly there is little evidence that even present day productions will fare any better.
Sadly, today, there is very little left of the 300 programmes Hudson and Halls made during their 11 years on New Zealand television: just a handful of complete shows, some film excerpts shot in the late 1970s, a few interviews and some Telethon footage. The duo's sparse representation in our film and television archive is an indictment on our capacity to recognise what is great and value it. We are destroyers rather than hoarders of our past: Kiwis let go of their treasures too easily. The consequence of historical amnesia is a present that lacks wisdom and self- knowledge.
Soon after I stumbled over a small example of this historical amnesia looking through some OIA requests:
June 06, 2023
Dear Television New Zealand Limited,
I'd like to request a copy of any available older branding guides that were in use between 2000-current if possible. I'm a big fan of the older TVNZ designs (especially around TVNZ 6 and 7) and would love to see how the brand guides across TVNZ's channels were laid out previously.
We refer to your request below.
Please find TVNZ’s current brand guidelines attached.
We do not retain former guidelines as there remains the risk that the old branding is used, although the logos are available for viewing online.
In accordance with Section 19(b) of the Act we advise that you have the right to seek an investigation and review of the above refusal by making a complaint under Section 28(3) to an Ombudsman.
So it appears not even one copy of these from before Jan 2022 has officially been set aside for storage in either their own or an outside archive. I'd have thought having access to a copy to protect their Intellectual Property might have been a good idea. Quick, download their current one before they destroy all copies of that as well.
How many New Zealand archival TV shows have been digitally preserved?
Figures released record that the number of items from the TVNZ Archive digitally preserved between 2014 and 2018 were:
2017-18: 275 as at 15 November 2017
From 2019 Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision annual reports have recorded the number of new titles digitally preserved as a key metric of its activities.
2019-20: 5,447 .
2020-21: 2,926 .
TVNZ archive titles would be a subset of these figures, and as that material has often be categorised as "at risk" we might safely assume that they make up a majority of titles being preserved each year but the figures above don't exactly instil confidence that the project known as Utaina to have 200,000 tapes digitalised by 2025 is going to plan.
According to the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Annual Report from 2021-23 progress is being made with 589 Items successfully digitised;
This past year has been a significant one for Utaina, the mass media digitisation project aiming to preserve more than 350,000 precious sound and video recordings by 2025. Together with the National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand, we signed an agreement with international archiving specialist, Memnon, to undertake our digital preservation. Memnon has nearly 20 years’ experience in the large-scale digitisation of audio and video assets for libraries, universities, broadcasters, museums, and government organisations around the world.
he contract with Memnon will bring 15 to 20 new jobs for New Zealanders, with Memnon setting up its operations in the former Avalon Studios in Lower Hutt, Wellington, about 100 metres away from our Motutawa office. The Memnon team was formally welcomed to New Zealand with a whakawhanaungatanga in early May.
We have made improvements to our Motutawa office for the first time since Television New Zealand stopped using them as a production library office in 2014-2015.
We have made considerable progress in preparing our collections and collections data for movement between Motutawa and Memnon. We care for approximately 350,000 original audiovisual items in various formats that will be digitised, so this has been a significant undertaking.
There are currently 12 people in the Utaina team, but this is expected to grow as the preservation work gets underway in earnest in the second half of 2022. We are also collaborating with the National Archives of the Cook Islands to digitise their at-risk magnetic material. In May, the first shipment of physical items for the Proof of Concept for Utaina was delivered to Memnon’s Avalon site. Many tonnes of archival equipment was shipped from overseas and was made up of the first four format types: Betacam, Sepmag, ORT (Open Reel Tape) and 1-inch.
Utaina is an example of how Ngā Taonga, the National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand collaborate around archival work such as quality control and standard file types, as well as sharing professional knowledge. In the future, we hope to gain a better understanding of each other’s collections, and discover ways to share models, infrastructure, and metadata to contribute to a dispersed national audiovisual collection.
Name the Mystery actress and show
Can you put a name to the actor alongside Sean Duffy, and identify the show? My first guess was a scene from Mortimer's Patch, but I've tracked it down, can you?
1980s join the 1960s and 70s TV listings from Christchurch Press on the web
The addition of late 20th century issues of the Christchurch Press at Papers Past continues. I've noticed that more issues up to the end of 1989 have appeared during 2023, building on previous batches to made available during 2020-22.
Daily listings seem to start from a few days after the first broadcast, but if you hunt around there is mention of earlier screenings and the first official broadcasts including...
New Zealand's "Lost" TV Shows?
A visitor to the site asked how rare the material in his collection of old beta tapes might be, which got me wondering about the topic of "lost" TV shows.
I know that here in the UK there has been a joint effort between interested parties to try and track TV material down via the Raiders of the Lost Archives List in a similar way to the NZ film archive's film search campaign from several years ago.
I've sent e-mails out to folk I've dealt with in the past asking if there is any coordinated approach between TVNZ, The Film Archive and other interested parties to document which New Zealand shows are missing thought lost (no copies held in archives), and how they might encourage folk to do something with their old off air recording.
Sadly TVNZ never replied.The folks from the film archive and NZ on screen did, saying there's no coordinated approach to the issue, but there was interest in pursuing the idea.
This post from the Mutcat forum gives a good idea of the conditions that applied for TV recordings in local TV stations back in the day:
Subject: RE: BBC Treasure Hunt
From: Little Robyn
Date: 12 Nov 10 - 03:11 PM
Chris, at Channel One, NZBC, in the 60s and 70s, videotape was expensive (2inch wide) and at 15ips, a half hour programme on a metal spool was heavy and took up lots of space.
So unless a producer said "Keep that one" (in which case someone had to find storage space) after a certain period of time the videotape room was instructed to ERASE the tape and put it back in the shelves to use again. Some of the news or sports stuff that they wanted for the archives, was fed through the Telerecorder and a black and white film was made - usually very grainy and of lousy quality.
The methods of recording used today were only a dream then.
I'm sure BBC had the same problems. If a programme was done on film, there was a solid copy, but if it was a studio programme on VT, the tapes were usually wiped. (Except for Wn3366 which I kept hidden behind #1)
Robyn ex WNTV1 VT and Telecine operator, 1968 - 1973
The issue of just what happened to tapes was the subject of an interesting article in 2023: Why is there no recorded footage of NZ Hall of Fame inductees Larry's Rebels?
NZ shows were not distributed to other countries in other formats and we didn't have home VCRs until into the 1980s, so no one is sure how much can be found realistically. Most episodes of early shows like Pukemanu, Alpha Plan, Section 7, Happen Inn, seem to be missing, and even later shows like On The Mat, Close to Home etc are for the most part lost as well.
Sadly even with the exposure of some archival material during the celebration of fifty years of TV in New Zealand in 2010 and on the HeartlandTV (2010-2015) channel there hasn't been any great public interest in getting access to the older shows or any strong commercial interest in exploiting the material that does still exist, but if you do happen to have any old New Zealand TV shows on film, beta, VHS, audio cassette, script form, or any other related documents or ephemera please do get in touch so those of us who have an interest can enjoy them.
Televison archives and schedules for New Zealand
The folks at the UKTV focused Mausoleum Club Forum were chatting about where copies of old UK TV shows might be hiding in archives around the world and how to find out what screened in particular countries. I gave them my suggestions for New Zealand as follows:
ngataonga.org.nz - New Zealand’s audiovisual archive. Their purpose is to collect, care for and share the audiovisual Taonga (treasure, anything prized) of Aotearoa. They have stewardship of the Television New Zealand video archives which might include a bit of UK material but probably not a lot. Check out the Status of the collection.
The Listener was the publication of record for NZ TV broadcasts for most of 20th century. From an archival television perspective their website has always sucked, and the situation is even worse in the aftermath of their temporary closure and sale in 2020/21.
Thanks to the hard work and generosity of a fellow archival TV researcher the Listener's TV listing pages from the 1974 to 1998 are available as pdfs.
As far as I know no one has any plan to digitize full back issues so any research on needs to be with hard copies in a library. Pre covid I used the Auckland (NZ) Library collection, and which I lived in Christchurch I would refer to the University of Canterbury's set. There are some collections of the Listener in the UK llas.ac.uk/resources/ including the University of Edinburgh: discovered.ed.ac.uk.
There are plans in place to add editions of The Christchurch Press up to 1995 to the National Library’s Papers Past website over the next two years, which will help when researching screenings as The Press usually ran daily listings along with some reviews and promotional articles/interviews.
I "borrow" any scans of schedules I happen across on the inter-webs and put them here: TV listings through the years