Welcome to Utaina
The audiovisual sights and sounds of our country are as unique to Aotearoa New Zealand as Te reo Māori. As a relatively young country in world terms, we are fortunate to have much of our history recorded in audiovisual formats – and we are the richer for it. We can look through our window to the past and see events and people long since gone, using these incredible views to enjoy, remember and guide our future.Audiovisual collection items include a diverse range of broadcast news and current affairs, documentaries, TV series, along with films, music, oral histories and live recordings of community events. Audiovisual items capture issues and experiences of people through the decades, unique cultural events and defining moments, New Zealand's environment and scenery, and New Zealand successes and tragedies over the last century.This project was gifted the name Utaina! by Ngā Taonga. It has been interpreted as ‘load the precious freight on board’ and was a catchphrase of Sir Āpirana Ngata when advocating for the recording and preservation of Māori language and heritage.
Thanks to Government investment of over $40 million in Budget 20 the National Library, Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, and Archives New Zealand are able to partner with international archiving specialist Memnon. We are in a race against time as our audiovisual collections are stored on obsolete and physically deteriorating formats, the equipment required to play them is no longer being made and people with expertise and experience in maintaining the playback equipment are becoming less available internationally.
“Not only is this initiative essential for NZ to maintain its links to the past, it presents an opportunity for us to work together with our colleagues at Ngā Taonga and Archives to achieve a common goal. We are looking forward to sharing and learning from each other” says Mark Crookston, Programme Director, National Library of New Zealand.
It's a massive project
Utaina is a massive project, with a combined volume of over 400,000 audiovisual magnetic media items to digitise. The National Library holds more than 105,000 collection items and Archives NZ holds around 10,000 items. “For Archives NZ, Utaina is complimentary to the Film Lab project and will ensure our audiovisual holdings in all media are preserved for the future” says Louise McCrone, Preservation and Repository Services Manager, Archives New Zealand.
Sarah Davy, Group Manager Accessible Collections at Ngā Taonga, is delighted that more than 300,000 items from the archival collections of Television New Zealand, Radio New Zealand and Māori Television held by Ngā Taonga is going to be digitally preserved. “Our collection, along with the collections held by National Library and Archives, are priceless taonga that capture our nation’s history and it is a privilege to be involved in this important project,” she says.
More items preserved and available
Helping us to do this will be Memnon which, over the past 20 years, has built a reputation for preservation digitisation of audiovisual material. They will be based in Lower Hutt and, from mid-year will start digitisation work that bring their skills to a New Zealand workforce.
Utaina will deliver the digitisation of precious audiovisual material at a scale and quality never seen before in New Zealand. We will continue to digitise newly acquired analogue audiovisual heritage items. Keeping up with new items will be more manageable once the mass digitisation of the existing collection has occurred.
The aim of Utaina is to have more items preserved and available in formats for the public to access and use. While the Utaina project is underway, access to audiovisual items will continue via the current processes, with access to not-yet-digitised items available on request. It’s an exciting project. And it’s time to load the precious taonga on board.