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Albert Wendt

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

As a pioneering Samoan novelist and the first Pacific Island professor in New Zealand, Albert Wendt made a major contribution to exploring questions of Pacific Island and Samoan identity. Here he reads some of his poetry.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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A woollen-mill worker’s story

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scottish mill workers played an important role in developing New Zealand’s wool industry over many years. Marie Jarvis, from Hawick, had experience in the mills of her hometown when she decided to move with her family to Otago, to work in a mill founded in the 19th century by two Scots, ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Whitehead

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Whiteheads (pōpokotea) move through the forest in flocks, searching under the canopy for insects. They stay in contact with a continuous tuneful chatter. Whiteheads are found in the North Island and nearby islands. Sound file from Radio New ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Shining cuckoo

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Shining cuckoos (pīpīwharauroa) return to New Zealand each spring after spending winter in the tropics. Like other cuckoos around the world, they lay their egg in the nest of another species and let the foster parents raise their chick. Despite this apparently easy existence their numbers ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Collecting toheroa

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The large, sand-burrowing shellfish known as toheroa made such good eating (usually as a soup) that New Zealanders consumed them faster than the species could breed. From 1932 until 1993 the government imposed restrictions on harvesting, but these measures were not enough to halt the decline. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Fishing boats, Milford Sound

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A few commercial fishermen operate out of Milford Sound, where their main catches are blue cod, crayfish and pāua (abalone). It is a harsh environment to work in. In this sound clip, a local fisherman describes conditions at the mouth of a fiord after heavy rain. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Recalling the Hawke’s Bay earthquake

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Jean Martin was working as a housekeeper in Napier when the 1931 earthquake struck. She remembers the motion of the earthquake, and describes the scene outside. This photograph shows dramatic wreckage on a Napier road. Sound file: Jean Martin, interview by Helen McConnochie for ‘...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Red-crowned parakeet

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The red-crowned parakeet is almost extinct on the North and South islands, but remains abundant on stoat-free Stewart Island and the Auckland Islands, as well as a number of small islands without rats or stoats. It nests in tree hollows or ground burrows. There are another two subspecies – ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Brakemen

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In 1904, this tramway at Maropiu, Northland, had such a steep grade it required a brakeman riding on each bogie (small cart). They both wound hand cranks that pressed board brakes onto the faces of each wheel. It was very dangerous work. On a nearby tram in that same year, a brakeman was crushed ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Protesting at Pureora

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In order to stop the logging of virgin forest at Pureora, protesters perched in the trees with camping gear in 1978. They received widespread public support. Listen to local MP Ian Shearer expressing his concern over the logging plans. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Joseph Banks’s journal

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Botanist Joseph Banks travelled with Captain James Cook on his first expedition to New Zealand in 1769–70. This journal entry describes the dawn chorus he heard on 17 January 1770, while the Endeavour was anchored in Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough Sounds: ‘This ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Blackberry patch

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Listen to George Paul of Te Awamutu talk about the introduction of blackberries to the King Country. Blackberries were first noticed growing wild in New Zealand in 1899. Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Catching crayfish

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These men are fishing with a pouraka (hoop net). The net was used to catch kōura (crayfish), īnanga (whitebait) or other small fish. The best time to catch crayfish with a pouraka was Māwharu. Fishing personality Bill Hohepa points out that the names for the phases of the moon vary ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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A food for all seasons

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This song ‘Ngā wehenga o te tau’ (the seasons) recalls the various types of traditional work for each season. Different types of food were collected according to the time of year; however, aruhe (fern root), shown piled up, was a reliable year-round staple. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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South Island pied oystercatcher with eggs

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This South Island pied oystercatcher is nesting in the Cass valley, a typical stony riverbed of inland Canterbury’s Southern Alps. The nest consists of a shallow scrape, and the eggs are well camouflaged. This makes them inconspicuous to predatory birds, but vulnerable to careless crushing ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Pick-and-shovel mining

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These West Coast miners from the end of the 19th century pause in their labours. The traditional technique for extracting coal, which miners brought from Britain, depended entirely on muscle power. Miners chopped out coal with picks and then shovelled it into waiting carts. In the sound file, a ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Brunner mine disaster, 1896

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The photograph shows one of the first bodies to be recovered from the Brunner mine. The worst loss of life in New Zealand mining occurred at this mine on 26 March 1896. An explosion was heard at 9.30 a.m. Two men went underground to investigate and were later found unconscious from black damp, a ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Mervyn Thompson performs Coaltown blues

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Mervyn Thompson was born at Kaitangata in 1936 and spent most of his early years on the West Coast. He worked for five years as a miner, and later he became a distinguished actor, playwright and director. In the play Coaltown blues, he relived the poverty and struggles of his boyhood. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Coromandel Harbour, 1852

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

When gold was discovered on the Coromandel Peninsula in 1852, Europeans met with Māori to discuss mining and prospecting their lands. In this 1940s interview John Edgar (born in 1874) talks about Māori attitudes towards mining. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Muriel Fisher

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

During the 1950s and 1960s Muriel and Bill Fisher established a fine collection of over 700 native plants in their garden on the North Shore of Auckland Harbour. Concerned for the future of some rare plants, Muriel Fisher wrote Gardening with New Zealand plants, shrubs and trees to ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage