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Parlez-Vous Française?

For immediate release
11 July 2007


Recordings of memories of French immigrants and French-speaking New Zealanders will be handed over to the Alexander Turnbull Library's Oral History Centre, in the National Library, tomorrow.

The Alliance Française of Wellington will celebrate its centenary next year. On the initiative of its president, Winston Roberts, the Alliance started its Oral History Project in 2005 to gather information from some of its most eminent members, in preparation for the centenary. The project also received funding from the Wellington City Council, Lotteries Commission, and Jack Illott Oral History Fund.

'The objective of the project was to record interviews with Alliance members that would throw light on the history of the club, its activities and the role it played in the social and cultural life of its members, and their relationships with the wider Wellington community,' said Anne Tohill, project manager.

Fourteen interviews were recorded between June 2006 and March 2007. Although the cultural activities of the Alliance FranÇaise of Wellington (and the former Alliance Française of Lower Hutt) were the focus of the interviews, these range widely over topics such as the role of the French wool buyers in New Zealand in the early 20th century, growing up in France during and after the Second World War, migration to New Zealand during the 1950s and 1960s, academic exchanges, family connections, and personal experience of the growth and development of relations between New Zealand and France.

Copies of interviews without restrictions will also be held at the Resource Centre of the Alliance Française (Dominion Building, 78 Victoria Street, Wellington).

The 14 interviewees are: Gordon Asbridge, Marie-Claire Asbridge, Dr John Dawson, Emeritus Professor John Dunmore, Jacquie Ferry, Michel Ferry, Betty Fraser, Danielle Jamieson, Emeritus Professor Philip Knight, Christiane Mortelier, Joyce Salmon, Robyn Skrzynska, Pierre Vivequin and Colette Vivequin.

(The worldwide Alliance Française, a network of more than 1200 independent associations linked to the Alliance Française in Paris, is dedicated to the teaching of French and the organisation of social and cultural activities. It is a non-profit organisation. The Alliance Française of Wellington has more than 900 members.)


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