We have over 70,000 items in the archive, totalling many thousands of hours of audio.
Our oldest recordings are recorded on wax cylinders, including one made by Prime Minister William Massey in 1917. Our collection also includes copies of New Zealand’s first commercial recordings, which were made by singer Ana Hato in Rotorua in 1927.
Public broadcasting started in New Zealand in 1925, but recording technology was not often used until the early 1930s. Our earliest known broadcast recording is a rugby commentary by A L Cantor on the first test at Carisbrook, Dunedin between the All Blacks and the British Isles on the 2 of June 1930.
Our latest recording is happening right now. We regularly record programmes from different radio stations, and continually monitor news stations for breaking stories.
Our staff index and convert historic recordings to newer formats, and select current broadcasts to add to the collections. This resource is available for research, education, exhibits and film, television and radio productions.
We operate on a not-for-profit basis, but there is a cost involved in accessing our collection. These charges go towards maintaining the Archive and our work preserving New Zealand's radio heritage.
It is important to note that we do not operate like a library, with recordings sitting on a shelf waiting to be borrowed. The majority of our audio is still in its original, unpreserved format (e.g. 78 discs, reel-to-reel tapes etc). While preservation is progressing systematically, with current funding it will take us close to 30 years to preserve and transfer most of the material to a digital format. Requests for items are additional to our preservation programme.
Help us preserve radio history.
We are always looking to add to our archive.
Sound Archives in Christchurch holds many photographs, memorabilia, and documents relating to the history of radio in New Zealand. You can view some of our photographs in the gallery
Sound Archives has been involved in some interesting projects.