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Dalmatian card game

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These Dalmatian gum diggers are enjoying a card game – probably on a Sunday. Most of them worked six days a week and spent Sundays playing games and relaxing. Listen to ‘Song of the digger’, a traditional New Zealand folk song. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Living in a bush camp

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Living conditions in a typical bush camp were crowded. Often a gang of men slept and ate in one large hut. Around the edge were two tiers of bunks, while a large table dominated the centre of the room. As well as being used for meals, it was a place to play cards, read, write letters and talk.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Mānuka honey

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Mānuka honey is produced by bees that feed on mānuka flowers. The honey from some areas has antibiotic properties. But the antibiotic compound leptospermone, found in the essential oil from mānuka, does not seem to be responsible for the biological activity of the honey. Listen to ...

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 morn I was ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Drying fish

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This 1843 watercolour, by an unknown artist, depicts Māori drying fish on poles. The fish appear to be mainly barracouta, with a few rays and snapper. Māori were not preservationists; they conserved resources so that they could use them in the future. Fishing pressure may have affected fish ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Trapped Hector’s dolphin

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Set nets are invisible to Hector’s dolphins, known to Māori as upokohue. They swim into the nets, become entangled, and drown in minutes. In 1988 an area around Banks Peninsula in Canterbury was declared New Zealand’s first marine mammal ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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The thrill of skydiving

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Listen to a skydiver talk about overcoming the fear of jumping from an aircraft. Modern skydiving has come a long way since the sport of parachuting first developed. Training is rigorous, equipment is more sophisticated, and beginners take their first jump harnessed to an instructor or ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Caravans

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

From the 1930s, caravans became a popular way to have a break at the beach. These caravans are parked at a beach near Te Kaha on the East Coast in the late 1970s. In the sound file, people talk in 1977 about the appeal of a caravan holiday. Sound ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Barrie Devenport after his Cook Strait swim

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

On 20 November 1962 Barrie Devenport made history as the first person in modern times to swim Cook Strait. He is shown here, soon after making it to the South Island, flanked by support swimmers from the Worser Bay Life Saving Club. This radio coverage is of the last moments of his swim. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Helicopter wreckage

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This Jetranger helicopter crashed into the sea at Anaura Bay, north of Gisborne, in June 1989. It was carrying a film crew, including television presenter Paul Holmes. Appalling weather, encroaching darkness and poor visibility forced the pilot to follow the coastline at low altitude, and when he...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Puysegur Point lighthouse

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The work of a lighthouse keeper was taxing and monotonous. Before the lights were electrified, the regular routine involved watching the light, pumping fuel, and winding up the weights that powered the lenses. But at some lighthouses the physical conditions...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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A fireman under fire

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Jim Blundell was born in Napier in 1924. In May 1943, aged 19, he got a job in the engine room of a British refrigerated cargo ship, the Port Fairy. Two months later, while the ship was sailing in convoy off Portugal with the troopships Duchess of York and California, ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Complaints about the food

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The quality of food provided for the crew often depended as much on the cleanliness of the vessel as the skill of the cook. Listen to Wally Caldwell describe the inadequate diet he endured on pre-war coal-burning vessels. Sound file from Radio New...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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The revolutionary Southern Cross

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Shaw Savill & Albion’s 20,204-ton Southern Cross was the glamour cruiser of the post-war liners. Everything about her was revolutionary. Until then the liners on the New Zealand run had carried a mixture of passengers and cargo. They looked like the Gothic-class ship seen ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Whaling at Te Kaha

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These whales have been caught at Te Kaha. In the sound clip, Matekino Wharemate recalls his time there. An elder taught him how to tell when the whale oil in the trypot was ready: by spitting into the oil. If the oil was not ready, the spittle would settle...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Fossil of baleen whale

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

There are well-preserved fossils of early whales in New Zealand which help document their evolution from land-based mammals. The Waitaki valley in north Otago is especially rich in such fossils. This fossil of a baleen whale, found in the nearby Awamoko valley, is about 26 million years old. The ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Murchison earthquake road damage

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These fissures in a country road near Murchison show some of the damage wrought on transport routes by the 1929 Murchison quake. Len Hutchins experienced the quake, and his recollections were recorded by Jim Henderson in this 1964 interview. Sound file: Len Hutchings, interview by Jim ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Giant kauri

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This giant kauri is found at Waiau Falls scenic reserve on the Coromandel Peninsula, not far from Coromandel town. The reserve is part of one of the few unlogged stands found on the peninsula. Listen to Canon Pāora Temuera of Ngāti Raukawa and Te Arawa recite a karakia (prayer) that would once ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Godwits at Miranda

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These godwits (kūaka) are congregating on the beach at Miranda. They have flown nonstop from Alaska and must feed intensively on arrival. Listen to a flock of godwits calling. Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Dunedin pipe band

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Dunedin was settled by Scots and was soon known as New Zealand’s Scottish city. This image continued to resonate in the 20th century. Here the Dunedin Ladies’ Scottish Pipe Band march past the city’s medical school in 1947. Listen to David Eggleton evoke the city’s ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage