Sound…or unsound?

The Archive of Māori and Pacific Music comprises an ethnographic sound collection relating to the Pacific which is of national and international significance.

Established in 1970 to promote research into the music of the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Māori, and those of the people of the Pacific Islands, its holdings today include material from most tribal groups of New Zealand and most Pacific Islands areas, commercial and field recordings of vocal and instrumental music, oral histories, stories and language resources.

The Archive is open to the general public as well as researchers, scholars and students.

What follows is an interview with the Archive Manager and Audio Conservator, Nigel Champion, as he talks about the collection and some of the technical challenges associated with maintaining and preserving these artifacts.

It seems appropriate that this blog post is a sound file.

I have seen the how strongly people react when they discover the valued taonga that reside here. And it is due to the drive and passion of people like Nigel, his predecessors and current staff, that this collection remains available and accessible for generations to come.


But wait there’s more…

Below is more information on the Archive in bullet-point style based on a presentation by Nigel. It highlights some of the major works in the collection, some of the ethical considerations when managing this type of content, and images showing some of the technical challenges associated with the collection.

Ethical and Intellectual Property matters

  • Depositor remains the owner unless a gift
  • Depositor may demand restricted access
  • Depositor may withdraw material
  • Archive has 4 Deposit Options to restrict access
  • Performer may demand restricted access (eg. iwi)
  • Indigenous concepts around access to knowledge
  • Open to the general public
  • No charge

Major Māori Collections

  • McLean Collection of Māori Waiata, 1958-1978  (1,283 items)
  • Binney: Narratives – Rua Kenana  (190 cassettes)
  • Salmond: Hui Series  (43 tapes)
  • Salmond: Oral history – Amiria Stirling  (40 tapes)
  • Salmond: Oral history – Eruera Stirling  (35 tapes)
  • Biggs: Linguistic recordings of Māori dialects
  • Māori Purposes Fund Board: Waiata, 1953-1958  (60 hrs)
  • Dominion Museum: Waiata cylinders, 1919-c1935  (21 hrs)
  • RNZ: Māori Events, 1938-1950  (60 tapes)

Major Pasifika Collections

  • McLean: music of Aitutaki  & Mangaia, 1967  (24 tapes)
  • Moyle: Traditional music of Samoa, 1967-1968  (615 items)
  • Moyle: Traditional music of Tonga, 1973-1976  (1,210 items)
  • Moyle: Traditional music of Niue, 1984  (343 items)
  • Moyle: Traditional music of Northern Cook Is., 1985 (38 tapes)
  • Moyle: Takuu, 1994-200  (109 cassettes)
  • Little: Music of Southern Cook Islands, 1989  (40 tapes)
  • Saumaiwai: Fiji music and narratives  (139 tapes)
  • Biggs: Linguistic recordings from Polynesia plus(219 tapes)
  • Huntsman: Tokelau narratives  (40 tapes)
  • Peter Crowe: Melanesian linguistics recordings  (188 tapes)


Mainly funded by the Pacific Development & Conservation Trust, Department of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs NZ.

  • Solomon Islands: provided safe storage and digital copies of 118 cassettes (1986-1994) threatened by social unrest.
  • Samoa: trained Radio Samoa 2AP technician in optimal playback & digitisation.
  • Tonga: trained Tonga Broadcasting Commission technician in optimal playback & digitisation.
  • PNG: trained IPNGS Archive technician in optimal playback & digitisation.  Supplied all playback & computer equipment.
  • Tuvalu: salvaged Tuvalu Media mouldy tapes and supplied digital copies.

Digitised copies of suitable content supplied to:

  •  Te Rarawa: to support local iwi resource centre
  •  Waikato-Tainui: to support local iwi resource facilities
  •  Ngāti Tūwharetoa: to support local iwi resource centre
  •  Ngāti Raukawa: CD copies for distribution by iwi
  •  Niue: replacement recordings following cyclone Heta
  •  Tokelau: Education Ministry’s tradition/language support
  •  Samoa: On-line fables = audio + Samoan + English

The Archive is located on Level 8 of the Human Services Building at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand.

The content is held on a range of formats.

Some of the more common technical problems

And the dedicated people, past and present, who have kept and keep the Archive going.

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