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Awards for capturing New Zealand stories

Media Release
7 July 2008

Awards for capturing New Zealand stories

Happy marriages turning to custard and the Auckland Harbour Bridge are just two subjects New Zealanders will hear about in generations to come following this year’s Australian Sesquicentennial Gift Trust Awards in Oral History.

Administered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the awards provide financial help for the recording of interviews for oral history projects relating to the history of New Zealand and New Zealand's close connections with the Pacific.

In 2008 the awarded projects include well-known historian Margaret McClure’s documentation of women’s divorce stories from the 1950s and 1960s and Anna Cottrell’s histories of refugees from Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq and Burma.

Roger Smith is working on preserving the memories of some of New Zealand’s senior composers and Megan Hutching’s project will look at the lifespan of the Auckland Harbour Bridge from 1959 to its upcoming 50th anniversary in 2009.

Alison Parr, Senior Oral Historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, says the 2008 award line-up is a fascinating one. “Each project represents an aspect of New Zealand’s history which will now be recorded for future generations.”

“It’s great that these historians have the curiosity and passion to gather this legacy. The exciting thing about oral history is that it preserves the memories of people who may otherwise be overlooked in written records.”

Recordings are all deposited at the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Oral History Centre where they will be accessible to researchers. Since the inaugural awards in 1991 the Australian Sesquicentennial Gift Trust for Awards in Oral History has awarded more than $1.25 million to over 300 oral history projects.

Awards recipients are selected by representatives of the Alexander Turnbull Library, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the wider oral history community.

The successful applicants for 2008 are:

Arts Foundation of New Zealand $6500
Arts Foundation of New Zealand Heritage Project
Interviews with eight recipients of the Icon Awards –
including Diggerress Te Kanawa, Maurice Gee,
Margaret Mahy and Ans Westra.

Otaki Bank Heritage Preservation Trust $2000
The Changing Face of Te Horo

Roger Smith $11000
Composing New Zealand – life histories of six senior
composers in Aotearoa/New Zealand – including Jenny McLeod,
Jack Body and Gillian Whitehead

AC Productions (Anna Cottrell) $12000
Facing the Future – stories of new New Zealanders
Histories of refugees from Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq and Burma.

Damian Skinner, Tairarwhiti Museum of Art and History $3700
Watersheds: Nga Wai Pupu – an oral history of the Tairawhiti Region

Megan Hutching $12000
Bridge 4232: an oral history of Auckland Harbour Bridge 1959-2009

Margaret McClure $ 5800
‘When a happy marriage turns to custard’
Women’s divorce stories form the 1950s and 1960s

Applications for Awards for 2009 close on 30 April 2009. Further information and application forms are available online at:


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