One of the ways we work to preserve New Zealand history is through oral history.
Generations New Zealand Oral History Project
Our current oral history project explores the country’s social history from the middle of last century to the present. We are recording interviews with families of some of the war veterans who contributed to earlier Ministry projects. The interviewees are from the two post-war generations – Baby Boomers and their children, sometimes known as Gen Y.
The interviews cover key areas of social history including domestic life, education, relationships, entertainment and technology. The project is led by Alison Parr, Senior Oral Historian, working with freelance oral historian Caren Wilton. The recordings will be deposited in the Alexander Turnbull Library where they will be available to researchers.
Oral history projects completed over the years include the following.
Remembering Christchurch Oral History Project
An illustrated book, Remembering Christchurch – Voices from Decades Past, based on this project was published by Penguin Books NZ in September 2015.
The Remembering Christchurch Oral History Project focuses on the ‘human heritage’ that survives the devastation of the Canterbury earthquakes. A collection of 19 interviews was recorded with older residents of the city, men and women aged in their 70s, 80s and 90s.
Our interviews were full life histories, covering the subjects’ memories from the 1930s onwards, their lives lived against the backdrop of the streetscapes, buildings, suburbs and homes that no longer exist.
The project was led by Alison Parr, Senior Oral Historian, working with Christchurch oral historian, Rosemary Baird. All recordings were deposited in the Oral History Centre at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, where they are available to researchers.
In the From Memory war oral history programme we have recorded the voices of New Zealanders who have served our country in times of war. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses and thousands of other personnel, at home and overseas. These ordinary New Zealanders have extraordinary stories to tell.
New Zealand Veterans from the Second World War
We’ve interviewed veterans of the Second World War and those who served in the post-war occupation of Japan and in the Korean War. Our March 2013 publication 'The War that never ended : New Zealand veterans remember Korea' completes the Ministry's From Memory programme which has seen over 150 oral history interviews deposited with the Alexander Turnbull Library's Oral History Centre.
Books published as part of the From Memory programme are listed on the History Group's book page.
Vietnam veterans are part of another project - Vietnam War: Memories of New Zealand and the Vietnam War.
Oral history toolkit
To encourage other oral history projects, we’ve created a toolkit to help you record your own oral history interviews.
Funding for oral history projects
We administer the New Zealand Oral History Awards which provides contestable funding for oral history projects. To find out more, visit our funding page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.