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Archive Activities

Preserving Tuvalu’s old songs

20 September 2012
From left: Nigel Champion, Te Oti Rakena, Afasene Kaitu
From left: Nigel Champion, Te Oti Rakena, Afasene Kaitu
For the past three months up on the eighth floor of the Human Sciences Building, Nigel Champion, Manager of the Maori and Pacific Music Archive at the University, has been painstakingly cleaning and digitising his way through 545 archive tapes from the Tuvalu Media Archive. These are part of the Tuvalu Media Conservation Project - an initiative between Creative Arts and Industries, and Alamai Sioni, the Tuvaluan Ministries’ Cultural Officer.

Funded by the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust, the main objective of this project is to preserve the recordings from the open reel archival tapes by digitising them onto one hard drive and therefore capturing the historical importance and unique sound of the “old songs”. At the same time Afasene Kaitu, a visiting radio programmes producer and technician from Tuvalu Media, is learning the art of audio conservation.

Afasene is responsible for organising and providing descriptions of the content of the tapes. This is mostly traditional music that also includes talent quests, commercial recordings, broadcasts of political speakers and state funerals – all spanning a 30 year period in Tuvalu’s history.

Te Oti Rakena, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Music, who is overseeing the project says Afasene holds “an amazing amount of knowledge” and has a good grasp of the software she has been taught to use since arriving at the University 10 days ago.

At the end of the conservation process, one digital copy of the recordings will be kept at the University for safe keeping and to provide access to the songs for the diaspora population here in New Zealand while the rest will go to Tuvalu.

Aotearoa - New Zealand

  • Provided digital recordings for inclusion in the re-publication of
    four volumes of Ngā Moteatea, the primary authoritative
    collection of Māori song texts.
  • Provided digital recordings for distribution by Ngāti Raukawa
    tribal authority.
  • Provided digital recordings for distribution by Ngāti Tūwharetoa
    Trust tribal authority.
  • Provided digital recordings for distribution by Te Rarawa tribal
    authority.

Samoa

  • Trained a Radio 2AP Samoa technician in digitising at risk open-reel recordings.
  • Provided digital replacements, where possible, of recordings
    destroyed by cyclones in Samoa.
  • Provided facilities for the transfer of obsolete analogue media by
    a Televise Samoa technician.

Tonga

  • Trained a Radio A3Z Tonga technician in digitising at risk open-reel recordings.
  • Provided replacements, where possible, of recordings which were lost.

Tokelau

  • Provided digitised copies of the Huntsman collection of songs and stories for distribution by the Tokelau Department of Education.

Niue

  • Provided digital replacements, where possible, of recordings
    destroyed by cyclone.

Papua New Guinea

  • Trained a technician from the archive of the Institute of Papua
    New Guinea Studies in the digitisation of at risk recordings.
  • Provided open-reel and disc playback equipment, computer
    equipment and software for digitisation.

Solomon Islands

  • Provided safe storage and digital copies of analogue recordings
    threatened by social unrest.

Polynesia

  • In 1994, a series of six one-hour TV programmes was screened
    entitled Tagata Tangata, and devoted to contemporary views of
    Pacific history and social issues. The film crew visited Cook
    Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Tahiti, Niue, Hawaii and Easter Island, as well as several locations within Aotearoa itself. The Archive reconstituted all of the rushes and has authority to make DVD copies available for non-commercial use.

Note

The majority of this work was funded by the Pacific Development
and Conservation Trust, Department of Internal Affairs, NZ and
the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, NZ.

 

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