- Audiovisual collections
Our extensive audiovisual collection contains thousands of hours of moving footage – from feature films to newsreels, documentaries to tourism adverts.
We hold master materials, negatives, prints and preservation copies for many titles. You can request copies of these for research and educational purposes, as well as public display.
Our team of experts make sure the film collection is accessible to today’s audiences, while also protecting it for future generations through our preservation programme in the Film Preservation Laboratory.
What’s in our audiovisual collection
National Film Unit (NFU)
Most of our film holdings come from the state-owned National Film Unit (NFU), one of New Zealand’s main film producers from 1941 to 1989.
The NFU made hundreds of films during this time, including the popular newsreel series Weekly Review (1941 to 1950) and Pictorial Parade (1952 to 1971). It also produced fiction films, documentaries, promotional material, and instructional films. Topics included war, technology, Māori life, sport, art, architecture, farming, and other aspects of New Zealand society.
We hold the master negatives for films produced by the NFU, as well as viewing prints, magnetic sound mixes, and other materials relating to these productions.
Alongside NFU films, we hold audiovisual material created by or for government departments and various special collections, which have been archived under the Public Records Act 2005 due to their significant historical value.
We hold a large amount of audiovisual material in many formats. These include VHS, UMatic, Betacam and other magnetic video formats, as well as a range of audio formats such as reel-to-reel audiotape, mechanical and optical discs.
How to research NFU film
Our YouTube page is a great place to start your search for NFU films, as a large selection from our holdings can be viewed here. You can search by keyword or title, or browse through subject playlists.
Search for NFU films on our YouTube page Contact us if there's a specific film you want to see, but you can't find it on our YouTube page.
NFU Collection search page
We're currently working on a complete list of the NFU holdings at Archives New Zealand from 1941 to 1989. Look through the NFU listings, search for films, and find keywords in film descriptions. Search the list on the NFU Collection page.
Using our collections search tool
You can use our online tool to search for all records held in our archives, including audiovisual material. It’s a great way to discover background information about the NFU and its films. You can find records detailing the production history of films, administration of the NFU, copyright and contractual information, as well as the public reception of films and censorship.
Records are arranged by the government department responsible for the creation of the record – rather than the subject matter of the record.
Access to audiovisual materials
All online audiovisual records are listed as ‘restricted access’. This restriction is for preservation reasons. It applies to the original copies of the films – not the digitised versions.
Reusing audiovisual material
We do not hold rights for all the audiovisual material in our care. While most of this material is Crown copyright, some has shared copyright with other parties.
All material must have rights cleared before it is copied. If you don't know the copyright status of material you want use, it's your responsibility to prove you have the right to copy it.
NFU material produced after 1946 is Crown Copyright with a 100-year term. Material produced before 1946 has lapsed from copyright, however many NFU films used library music that was licensed for specific types of films and territories.
The copyright in the music is not owned by the Crown, and it is therefore up to researchers to obtain clearance to reuse this material before it can be provided. Additionally, not all NFU films can be published on our YouTube page owing to copyrighted soundtracks.
Television New Zealand (TVNZ) also has some claims on the copyright in NFU films, acquired along with the assets of the NFU in 1990.
Permission from the Chief Archivist
In addition to copyright clearance, formal permission from the Chief Archivist must be obtained to reuse any material in our care unless it is under a Creative Commons license. This is in accordance with the Public Records Act 2005. Permission for reuse cannot be given for any material that is not sourced directly from us.
All material we publish online can be reused under the terms of our Creative Commons (BY) licence. This means the material can be reused, shared, and edited without requiring formal permission from the Chief Archivist as long as we are attributed as the source of the material.
Any film footage supplied by us must include an on-screen credit to: Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga.
If an onscreen credit is not suitable for the type of production being created, contact us to discuss alternative arrangements.
Last updated on 26 April 2022