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Our film preservation lab has a special connection with the NFU – it began at the unit's original Darlington Road studios. Some of our team of expert technicians started their careers at the NFU. 

Peter Jackson's production company bought the lab in 1991, and it came to Archives in 2013. It’s the only one of its kind in Australasia, and still has equipment from the NFU era – including our beloved Apple IIe printer, which we bought in 1985.  

An Apple IIe computer sitting on a table. It has yellowed with age. To the left of the image is a film reel labelled with the NFU logo.

"They don't make them like this any more" our Apple IIe, bought in 1985.

Preserving the NFU collection 

In October 2019 the film lab finished a four-year project to preserve the NFU collection. We preserved 1,300 films made up of 3,198 separate picture and sound reels – that’s 2.36 million feet of footage! 

How we preserve films 

Our team are experts in film preservation techniques like grading, printing and processing. Between them, they have over 150 years’ experience. 

The earliest films were made of cellulose nitrate or cellulose acetate, which deteriorate over time. This video shows how we copy them to more stable polyester material, and increase their lives by up to 500 years. 

Find more about our work

We’ll continue our work preserving government films for the next three years. Films from the NZBC – the precursor to Radio New Zealand National and TVNZ – are just one of the collections we’re working on.

If you want to know more about the film preservation lab’s work or you have a question about a film, you can contact an archivist to learn more.

Fill in our form to ask an archivist about film preservation