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Old NZ films found in California

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 11 December 2014: A University of Canterbury historian says three priceless films shot in New Zealand nearly 75 years ago have been discovered in a Californian garage.

The films have been digitally transferred from a large old 16mm reel and uploaded to You Tube. University of Canterbury historian Professor Katie Pickles says the three films that captured life in early New Zealand are priceless.

The films have been produced by a mystery filmmaker and are labelled South Pacific Part Three – the whereabouts of parts one and two are unknown. It appears to have been shot by the same mystery man during late March 1940.

“These vintage, 16mm vacation films were recently discovered at a garage sale in San Jose, California. Although they were in very poor condition, they were nevertheless digitally converted courtesy of The California Pioneers of Santa Clara County. The unknown photographer and his wife travelled throughout the Pacific region; including the North and South islands of New Zealand.

“The historians at the California Pioneers of Santa Clara county are hoping, by some wild chance, someone in New Zealand might be able to help provide the identity of the unknown visitor-photographer from California back in 1940. Perhaps someone in New Zealand can recall a visitor staying in their home, or making contact with him?

“They were sent to me as president of the New Zealand Historical Association of which the University of Canterbury is the current host. We have put them on our CEISMIC digital archive.

“The films feature various towns at cities from Auckland to Wellington via Wairoa and from Christchurch to Wahapo, near Whataroa on the West Coast. The shots of pre-1950s Christchurch are such an invaluable record.

Professor Pickles says she has shown the Christchurch section of the films to the second and third year history students with support from the New Zealand Historical Association.
“The earthquakes have wiped out a lot of central Christchurch. This footage is a great treasure for the city and for all of New Zealand. We will be showing them to our College of Arts students next year,” Professor Pickles says.

The clips show:
New Zealand 1940 Auckland to Wairoa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcXq7327Ddg
New Zealand 1940 Wairoa to Wellington https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORbsbLI8Sfc
New Zealand 1940 Christchurch to Wahapo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsLN5mFMrjE

Professor Pickles says she has shown the Christchurch section of the films to the second and third year history students with support from the New Zealand Historical Association.