About the Archive


The collection spans materials from 1919 to the present and includes vocal and instrumental music, oral histories, stories and language resources from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. Preservation and restoration are key activities.


The Archive was established by the University of Auckland in 1970, with Mervyn McLean, a leading ethnomusicologist appointed as Archivist. Recordings from his fieldwork formed the beginnings of the Archive. McLean recounts his 21 years of field work in Tō tātau waka: In search of Māori music 1958 – 1979, also available from Auckland University Press

The Archive was housed in the Human Sciences Building for many years. In 2020 it was temporarily moved to the Old Choral Hall and from 2021 it is now based in the General Library.

Mervyn McLean passed away on the 8th July, 2022. Richard Moyle acknowledges his life in this Obituary: Mervyn Evan McLean (1930-2022).

Noteworthy collections

Aotearoa - New Zealand:

  • 1919-c1935: 21 hours of dubbed cylinder recordings of Māori waiata. National Museum
  • 1953-1958: 60 hours of Māori waiata. Māori Purposes Fund Board, Wiremu T. Ngata.
  • 1958-1979: 1283 Māori waiata. Mervyn McLean.
  • 1969-1984: 190 tapes of Māori waiata & oral histories. Judith Binney.
  • 1970-1979: 118 tapes of Māori waiata & oral histories. Anne Salmond.
  • 1976: 70 hours of audio & video of the 2nd South Pacific Arts Festival. Mervyn McLean.

Cook Islands:

  • 1967:  30 hours of music from Aitutaki & Mangaia. Mervyn McLean.
  • 1985: Preliminary Study of the Music of Northern Cook Islands. Richard M. Moyle.
  • 1988: Preliminary Study of the Music of Nga Pu Toru, Southern Cook Islands. Jenny M. Little.


  • 1973-1976: 199 tapes of events and music. Chris Saumaiwai.
  • 1986: 32 tapes of music. David Goldsworthy.

French Polynesia:

  • 1985: 15 tapes of Music in Mangareva. Amy Stillman.
  • 1985: 25 tapes of music in Tubuai. Amy Stillman.
  • 1987-1988: 83 tapes of music in Tahiti. Amy Stillman.
  • 1989: Music of the Southern Marquesas Islands. Jane Freeman Moulin.

Marshall Islands:

  • 1988: 17 tapes of music of Marshall Islands, Lisa Lawson.


  • 1984: Preliminary Study of the Music of Niue. Richard M. Moyle.

Papua New Guinea:

  • 1966:  30 hours of music from Usarufa, Eastern Highlands. Vida Chenoweth.
  • 1988: 64 tapes of music from New Britain. Wolfgang Laade
  • 1994-2000: 120 hours of Music of Takuu (Mortlock Islands). Richard M. Moyle.


1967-1968: 60 hours of music. Richard M. Moyle.

Solomon Islands:

  • 1986-1994: 118 tapes of song & stories, Western Province.


  • 1967-1981: 87 tapes of songs & stories. Judith Huntsman.
  • 1986: Survey of Music in Tokelau. Allan Thomas.


  • 1974-1975: 90 hours of music. Richard M. Moyle.


  • 1971-1977: 140 tapes of language recordings & music. Peter Crowe & James Gwero.
  • 1990: Hgorofutuna: Music of West Futuna. Allan Thomas & Takaroga Kuautoga.


  • 1959-1978: comparative collection of Polynesian languages and dialects, Bruce Biggs.