In the early 1970s, anthropologist Dame Anne Salmond travelled to marae around the North Island and made recordings that formed the basis of her PhD thesis and book, Hui – a study of Maori ceremonial gatherings1. The classic open-reel tape recorder Salmond used during those visits is part of a new exhibition that marks the 50th anniversary of the Archive of Māori and Pacific Sound.
Salmond’s recordings were deposited in the Archive along with the recorder in the 1970s. Established as the Archive of Māori and Pacific Music in 1970 within the Department of Anthropology, its holdings help preserve the wealth of knowledge, skills and practice that is transmitted from one generation to the next. The recording of this knowledge is important for traditional holders, and for scholars and researchers.
The Archive’s initial collection of 600 tapes grew over time thanks to donations from institutions, anthropologists and others. That included material recorded by Dr Mervyn McLean and Professor Bruce Biggs, two key figures in the founding of the Archive.
It is now home to around 15,000 unique ethnomusical, anthropological and other recordings that reflect aspects of Māori and Pacific cultures, such as song, dance and language, and which carry a sense of identity and continuity.
Recording technology display
The 50th Anniversary display explores how recordings were made and shows how the technology has changed over time. It includes such gems as a 1960s microphone, a Sony Walkman, tape cassettes and Dame Anne Salmond’s Nagra tape recorder.
At the accompanying listening post, you can hear a selection of recordings, including karakia, haka, lakalaka and one made by Dame Anne Salmond during her 1970s fieldwork.
Combine your visit to the display with a curator talk. Hear about the Archive and the work of the archivists.
This is one of several activities planned to mark the Archive’s 50th anniversary.
Visit the display until Friday 3 April at Special Collections, Level G, General Library.
Marie O’Connell, Team Leader, Archive of Māori and Pacific Sound
- Salmond, A. (1975). Hui: a study of Maori ceremonial gatherings. Wellington: Reed.
Dame Anne Salmond’s Nagra IV-D tape recorder in the Archive of Māori and Pacific Sound