Skip to main content

Oral History Awards 2018 recognise women and cultural diversity

Voices reflecting Aotearoa’s diverse histories from iwi and hapu to the contribution of women and artists will be captured by the recipients of this year’s New Zealand Oral History Awards (NZOH) announced today.

“As this year we mark 125 years of Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand, it’s fitting that a number of projects showcasing the lives and experiences of women are among those supported,” says Neill Atkinson Chief Historian Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

“Interviews with former students and staff from Queen Victoria School, Te Kura O Kuini Wikitoria will reflect the experiences of young Māori women, and Te Aratika Whanau Trust will explore the whakapapa of northern iwi and hapu through the eyes of kuia Mereana Waikanae Hoani, aged 86, and Dawn Nina Epiha, who is 93.

This is the Queen Victoria school basketball (netball) team of 1914. Image sourced from Te Ara

“For her project SOS: Stories from the Sisters Overseas Service, Georgie Craw will interview women involved in or assisted by SOS, a pro-choice organisation set-up in the1970s. SOS helped women travel to Australia for legal abortions at a time when the law made it difficult to have safe legal abortions here.

“The awards support the oral history profession by giving recipients the opportunity to develop their skills and, for first-time recipients, receive guidance on how to undertake this specialised type of research.

“This year we are also supporting video interviews undertaken by members of the Shakti Community Council for their project – The human cost of war: Voices of displaced women. The filmed recordings will feature in a documentary account of survival in times of war and conflict.

“Arts and culture feature with projects focused on the Christchurch Operatic Society’s 80 years of show business, the life and work of artist Tony Fomison, and on the development of professional performing arts groups supporting people with disabilities.

“Another project focuses on Samoan elders and their close relationship with land, which encompasses a philosophy of sustaining and nurturing life.

“The 11 awards, totalling $56,186, granted this year will see a diverse range of stories brought to life and more of Aotearoa’s hidden history recorded for posterity.

“Setup in 1990 with a $1 million gift from the Australian government to commemorate New Zealand’s sesquicentennial of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, these awards aim to preserve the history of New Zealand and its close association with other South Pacific countries through oral history.

“In the 28 years since the awards were established more than $2.25 million has been given to some 440 community groups and individuals,” Neill Atkinson said.

Applications for NZOH awards are considered by a committee of New Zealand historians and a representative from the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Oral History Centre. The awards are administered by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.


Project overviews

Bringing Classical Antiquities to Aotearoa                                                           $4000

Marion K. Steven’s life and legacy is the subject of Natalie Looyer’s oral history. Marion Steven was one of the first female Readers at Canterbury University. She established the James Logie Memorial Collection in 1973, a substantial collection of predominantly Greek and Roman antiquities, which is now on public display in the Christchurch Arts Centre.

The human cost of war: Voices of displaced women                                           $3400

Shakti Community Council members Farida Sultana and Shila Nair will interview women displaced by war and who have claimed refugee status in New Zealand. They aim to make a documentary inspired by the stories of women displaced from their homes on account of war and their tales of survival through war and conflict.

Voices from Inside Labour                                                                                      $2856

The years 1983-2008 saw some significant changes in the history of New Zealand's political economy including the liberalisation and deregulation of the economy, and three changes of government. Mike Smith interviews Mike Williams, labour party staffer and trade union leader Graham Kelly to find out more about the fifth Labour-led government.

Fanua – Samoan indigenous conceptual meaning of land                                  $6330

A connection with the land is hugely significant to Samoan people and through her oral history project Tafaoimalo Loudeen Parsons will interview eight Samoan elders about their experiences of living in New Zealand and what this has meant for them in terms of cultural and socio-economic resilience.

Who are Ngati Kuta                                                                                                  $3000

Through his research Robert Willoughby aims to leave a legacy for Ngati Kuta children by finding out more about the tribal history of the Ngati Kuta people by talking with descendants about their whakapapa connections, and the stories and events that shaped their history from pre-European times to today.

SOS: Stories from the Sisters Overseas Service                                                  $6400

For this project Georgie Craw will interview people involved in the Sisters Overseas Service (SOS) during the 1970s. SOS was a pro-choice organisation setup to help women travel to Australia for legal abortions when New Zealand clinics offering these abortions were shut down.

So the 30,000 sang! The voices and memories behind 80 years of                    $5000
Showbiz in Christchurch   

Six people, including founding members, will be interviewed to capture the early memories of the Christchurch Operatic Society which was formed in 1938 to present musical dramas on a grand scale to the people of Canterbury. The organisation has entertained a collective audience of more than 2.5 million people.

Tony Fomison Oral History Project                                                                        $5000

Anna Fomison, artist Tony Fomison’s sister, extends the Tony Fomison Oral History Project she initiated in 2015 to record both the key events in the story of her brother’s life (1939-1990) and to collect the stories about Tony by interviewing people who featured in his life.

Development of professional inclusive performing arts within Aotearoa         $8700

This oral history project by Nic Lane begins to document Aotearoa’s history of organisations and artists working in professional performance with artists who experience disability.

Te Aratika Whanau Trust                                                                                        $3500

Researchers Tilly HeiHei and Dawn Shaw delve into the knowledge of two extraordinary women kuia Mereana Waikanae Hoani and Dawn Nina Epiha to discover their stories from the 1920s to today, and also the whakapapa of their hapu and its links to the wider iwi and hapu of the north.

Oral History of Queen Victoria School                                                                  $8000

Jenny Senior and Naomi Strickland will explore, in te reo Māori, the personal stories of past students and staff from Queen Victoria School – Te Kura O Kuini Wikitoria. They aim to reveal the history of the school and stories representative of the Māori girls who attended, reflecting where possible the broader context for Māori including social, demographic and economic developments.                                                                       





Updated on 17th July 2018