Within their lifetimes: a 20th Century of Change
First published October 4 and September 6, 2022: https://taurangahistorical.blogspot.com/2022/09/within-their-lifetimes-20th-century-of.html and https://taurangahistorical.blogspot.com/2022/10/within-their-lifetimes-20th-century-of.html
The mix of mirth and indignation is a strange cocktail. My first taste was at hearing my childhood years described as the late 1900s. For the briefest of moments, my mind's eye overshot that location by several decades, scrolling from memory into imagination and then, with bewilderment, back again. The 1980s after all was only about 20 years ago, surely?
This next collection for some people risks evoking a similar response. The people involved are neither ancient nor of the colonial era, in fact, some of them (some of you), are still alive.
It begins as a collaboration (in the closing years of the 1900s), between Tauranga Library archivist Jinty Rorke (1942-2014), journalist and author Max Avery (Living History Productions), veteran Bay of Plenty Times journalist Glen Pettit and videographer Ross Brown (Vision Media). The collaboration resulted in at least forty fascinating interviews with local personalities whose memory and contribution stretched back much of the 20th Century. The interviews are in two audio-visual collections, a peculiarity of archivists who like to arrange things by donation rather than as a project or by format. The second collection I will look at shortly, along with the journey the interviews took from analogue to digital.
The first collection is AV 21-002: the Jinty Rorke Collection. You can locate them on Pae Korokī by clicking the "Audio Visual" menu and following your nose.
- D.H. Duff Maxwell (1903-1997) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1989) – coming soon
- Vi Simons (1900-2001) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1990)
- Capt D. Munro (1904-1995) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1990)
- R.A. (Bob) Owens (1921-1999) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1996)
- Alan Bellamy (1923-2004) interviewedby Jinty Rorke (1997)
- Nora Prior née Fenn interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1997)
- Thelma Smith (1911-2013) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1997)
- Lyn Harpham (née Christian) (1919-2011) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1997)
- Rev Wynnton Poole (1908-2005) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1997)
- Arthur Dagley (1919-1998) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1997)
- V. Bruce Cunningham (1919- ) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1997)
- N.R. (Rex) White (1919- ) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1997)
- Peter and May Densem interviewedby Jinty Rorke (1997)
- A. (Alf) H. Rendell (1917-2019) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1998)
- Lionel Lees (1906-1998) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1998)
- Peter Densem (1917-2019) interviewedby Jinty Rorke (1998)
- Dr Joy Drayton (1916-2012) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1998)
- Capt. S.R. (Rollo) Davis interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1998)
- J. H. (Harry) Graham (1907-2003) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1998)
- Patrick and Nita McBrearty interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1998)
- Nan Garrity and Gipsy Mackenzie (née Norris) interviewed by Jinty Rorke (1998)
- Kate Jones Madill interviewed by Jinty Rorke (2003) – not viewable
- Glenn Pettit interviewed by Jinty Rorke (2003)
AV 21-002 also includes a documentary on the Ōmanawa Falls power station, commissioned by the Tauranga District Libraries in 1998. The documentary is researched, filmed, and produced by Max C. Avery with Jinty Rorke narrating.
The project was a collaboration and this second collection, AV 21-003, is made up mostly of the interviews donated by journalist and author Max Avery.
The interviews are in video format, recorded initially on small Video 8 cassettes but often later copied onto VHS tape and later still from VHS to the new and exciting DVD format. Oftentimes it is these surrogates that have been donated, rather than the original video 8. It seems appropriate to capture "a 20th century of change" right when the analogue world of magnetic tape, knobs, dials and complicated VCR machines was about to give way to new digital technologies.
Appropriate, but also problematic.
DVDs when they first came out were promised to last 100 years, and you can imagine their appeal as a result. Not only was it unnecessary to rewind tapes but they were slim and compact, and shiny. Did I mention shiny? We now know that eight (8) years, is a more reliable indicator for how long you can trust a DVD. For the few interviews that existed only as a DVD, this posed a challenge. An interview by Jinty with Kate Jones Madill in 2003 sadly, was not recoverable. Another was only recovered by the Library's Heritage and Research Team through a process of stitching together two corrupted DVDs, but corrupted in different places, into one working digital file. Fortunately, most interviews did have their original Video 8 cassette, though quite a few existed as VHS tapes only.
VHS tapes are often only as "clean" as the VCR players they frequented throughout their working lives. And I know our family VCR player entertained more than one marmite sandwich during its tour of duty. Turning such tapes into digital files required the Heritage and Research team sending them away to New Zealand Micrographics Services (NZMS) who use well-maintained machines and high-end equipment to make the conversion. Sometimes this involved baking the tapes to clean them from dust and bacteria that might otherwise damage their own players and interfere with the quality of the capture.
The ADVC-500 professional video converter, specialized for use with broadcast equipment
- Hilton D. Ronald (Chook) Rayment (1914-2000) interviewed by Max Avery, (1997)
- Owen James Morgan (1919-2003) interviewed by Max Avery (1997)
- W.E. Schrader (1921-2009) interviewed by Glenn Pettit (1999)
- Captain D.W.G. Keesing interviewed by Glenn Pettit (1999)
- Pilot Officer Ken Crankshaw (1921-2009) interviewed by Glen Pettit (1999
- Sir Gaven and Lady Isabel Donne interviewed by Glen Pettit (2000)
- Captain D.W.S. Keesing interviewed by Glen Pettit (2000), and here.
- Flight Lieutenant John Worthington and Flying Officer Frederick Friar interviewed by Glenn Pettit (2000)
- John Worthington (1918-2010) interviewed by Max Avery (2001)
- Ronald James Reid, (1918-2014) RNZAF Pilot interviewed by Max Avery (2003)
- John C. Cotter (1912-2008) interviewed by Max Avery in 2004
- Maurice (Snow) Garde-Browne (1924- ) interviewed by Max Avery in 2005
- David S. Cohu (1924-2018) interviewed by Max Avery (2006)
- William E. Lawrence (1912-2010) interviewed by Max Avery (2006)
AV 21-003: the Max Avery interview, consists of the following.