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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
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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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Mauri stone

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This mauri stone was found on Moutohorā (Whale Island) in the Bay of Plenty. Māori believed that the life principle or mauri of a forest, tree or waterway could be concentrated into a stone or other object for protection. Sound file from Radio ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Tōtara tree

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The tōtara is associated with strength and grandeur. It is considered the greatest of all the trees in Tāne’s forest. Listen to Huirangi Waikerepuru from Taranaki and Te Āti Awa tribes explain the proverb, ‘Ka hinga te tōtara o te wao nui o Tāne’ (the mighty tōtara...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Prisoners of war on Somes Island

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These ‘enemy aliens’ sunbathing on Matiu (Somes Island) in Wellington Harbour during the Second World War may seem to be enjoying themselves. But as the interview with Charles Klingenstein, a German national, explains, conditions for the prisoners in the early years of the war were ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Kārearea call

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The call of the kārearea (New Zealand falcon) was said to foretell the weather. If the bird screamed on a fine day, there would be rain the day after – if it screamed in wet weather, the next day would be clear. Listen to a kārearea’s cry. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Pīpīwharauroa (shining cuckoo)

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Listen to the pīpīwharauroa. This migratory bird’s call was a welcome signal that spring had arrived. Sound file from Birds of New Zealand. Compact disc. © Viking Sevenseas NZ (P O Box 152, Paraparaumu), 1980. All rights reserved.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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An account of the June earthquake

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Tex Charteris remembers his experience on the Wairarapa coast during the June 1942 earthquake. Damage was widespread to roads and bridges in the region. Here a member of the Home Guard stands ready to warn travellers that the bridge is impassable. Sound file: Oliver 'Tex' ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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The end of the golden weather

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Bruce Mason began his famous solo play, The end of the golden weather (first performed in 1959), with the words: ‘Let me take you on a voyage into that territory of the heart that we call childhood.’ The play, which Mason performed over 1,000 times, was set on Auckland’...

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 were unusually demanding. At Puysegur ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Te Tō Waka, the canoe portage

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Te Tō Waka, the narrow stretch of land between the Tāmaki River and the Manukau Harbour, was used extensively by Māori as they travelled between the east and west coasts. Listen to the traditional chant used by the Tainui people while they dragged their canoes across the isthmus. Today the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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The home of the ancestors

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Taranaki tribal historian Te Miringa Hōhaia talks about the kāinga (village) Karakatonga which was the ancient dwelling place of Te Kāhui Maunga – the people of the mountains.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Parihaka gatherings

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This gathering of people at Parihaka was photographed in the 1880s. Such events have been taking place since the Taranaki wars of the 1860s. At that time the Parihaka leaders Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi set up a regular forum called Tekau mā waru (‘The Eighteenth’) which ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Tūī drinking nectar

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The tūī reaches the nectar in a flax flower with its curved beak, extending its brush-tipped tongue. Its fine feathers above the bill become coated with yellow pollen, and the tūī then transfers pollen from one flower to another. Sound file from Birds of New Zealand. Compact ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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North and South Island robins

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

New Zealand robins (toutouwai) have large heads with big dark eyes, a white dot above the bill and long slender legs. The male North Island robin (top) is grey with an off-white patch on the belly. The female is slightly paler, with an off-white patch on her breast. The male South Island robin (...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Measuring fish

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A fisheries official measures a fish aboard the Taiko Maru No 2. The industry has become increasingly regulated since the 1980s and fishermen must keep detailed records of their catches. Listen to an interview with the director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at the time, ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Baited longlines

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In longline fishing, very long lines are strung with many baited hooks and drawn through the water. Malcolm Harrison, an Auckland longline fisherman, talks about landing snapper and gurnard in the late 1950s. Sound file from Radio New...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Charles Fleming, paleontologist

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Scientist Charles Fleming looks over a collection of fossils. A versatile scientist, Fleming became chief paleontologist of the Geological Survey in Wellington in 1952 and specialised in studying living and fossil molluscs. Listen to Fleming explain why there are few terrestrial fossil deposits ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage