The Oral History Centre is part of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

There are more than 10,000 recordings in the Oral history Centre collection. Recordings include interviews with people from throughout New Zealand and the Pacific, of various ethnicities, iwi (tribe) and hapū (sub-tribe), occupations, political affiliations and interests. Talks, readings and events are also covered.

Most of the collection has been recorded since the 1960s. The collection covers New Zealand society, culture, community, and political history from the late 19th century to the present.

Interviews usually have accompanying documentation, including an abstract – a detailed time-coded index providing quick access to the contents of the recording. A few interviews are fully or partially transcribed. Photographs and other relevant material are sometimes included.

There are Māori oral history projects and recordings of talks, lectures and other events in te reo Māori. Descriptions of selected interviews with Māori held in the Library’s oral history collection are included in the Register of oral history records on the social and economic history of Māori from 1945 to 1995. The register was compiled by Dr Monty Soutar for the Crown Forestry Rental Trust in 2003.

If you'd like to donate any material to the collection, contact the Curator of the Oral History Centre.

Borrow items in this collection

You can borrow copies of some oral history interviews and other recordings by interloan through your local library. Contact the Oral History Centre to discuss your request before putting it in to your local library.

More about interloans

Get copies of items in this collection

You can order extracts from some interviews and other audio and video recordings for use in exhibitions, websites, broadcasts and lectures. Contact us to discuss your requirements, and permission procedures.

Interviews and other recordings may not be copied in full for private research. Notes may be taken while listening or viewing. If you wish to transcribe material from an interview, discuss this with staff first.

More about making copies

Get help

We can answer your enquiries in person or by email, letter or phone. You can also use the Ask a Librarian form.

The Oral History Adviser can assist with oral history training, advice, and support.

The Oral History Adviser, Māori, is available to assist with material in te reo Māori, to provide services in te reo Māori, and to work with groups and individuals interested in recording Māori oral history.

The Research Librarian, Oral History, is available to help researchers with access to the collections.

The Curator, Oral History and Sound, develops, cares for, and manages our oral history and unpublished sound collections. An appointment is required.

Contact Details
Contact Us Oral History Centre