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First radio broadcast of Parliament

Audio file

Hear the first radio broadcast of Parliament, 25 March 1936.

Charles Wheeler, long-standing press gallery reporter from the turn of the 20th century and parliamentary commentator, is at the microphone for the first broadcast of Parliament, 25 March 1936. We hear Speaker-elect Barnard talking.


On the occasion of the opening of the 25th Parliament. For the first time in the history of New Zealand broadcasting, the microphone has been introduced into Parliament itself so that even the most distant elector may gain some first-hand knowledge of the more important happenings. New Zealand is blazing the trail in allowing parliamentary broadcasts. This afternoon is very much a formal occasion, excepting for the very interesting event to come later of the election of the Speaker, the official head of Parliament. At the moment Members are in the course of taking the oath of allegiance to his Majesty the King. They have been sworn in batches of four, and I propose now to wait a little to give you the opportunity of hearing the clerk read out four names and administer the oath to four members.

'Previous Speakers held the respect and esteem of every member of this House and we can have every confidence in Mr Barnard, that by his tact, judgement and impartiality he will be a worthy successor to those eminent gentlemen. For these reasons I feel honoured and privileged to second his nomination.'

From his place among the Private Members, Mr Barnard is now speaking. 'To the Honorable Member for Manakau, to the Honourable Member for Wellington South, for the honour they have done me for proposing me as Speaker of this House and also for the very generous terms they have used regarding myself. I understand that for something like two centuries in the House of Commons it was the custom for the person proposed as Speaker to plead his utter unworthiness for the office and to beg to be excused. I must confess that at this moment I feel some sympathy for that old-time frankness. However for the present it seems proper to do nothing more than follow the wise words of the standing orders. I accordingly submit myself to the judgment of the House. Now I want to assure the Honourable Member for Wellington Suburbs and also other Honourable Members that I'll do all in my power to ensure that the rights of Private Members are protected. The Honourable Member knows that there are difficulties sometimes in that respect, but I want to assure him that I am fully alive to the necessity for getting adequate protection for Private Members in regards to bills and other matters. I desire to make my respectful acknowledgements to the House for the very high honour conferred upon me this afternoon.'


Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Reference number T2294.

New Zealand Broadcasting Service announcer Mr Ensor in the control room, around 1953 or 1954.
Archives New Zealand/Te Rua Mahara O Te Kawanatanga
Reference: AAQT, 6401, A35707

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First radio broadcast of Parliament, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated