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New Zealand Film Archive launched

1 April 1981

New Zealand Film Archive vault, 2011
New Zealand Film Archive vault, 2011 (Fairfax NZ, Dominion Post)

The New Zealand Film Archive began operation in premises it shared with the New Zealand Federation of Film Societies in Courtenay Place, Wellington. The sole staff member was its energetic director, Jonathan Dennis.

A decade later the Archive’s collection comprised more than 10,000 titles housed in seven buildings around Wellington. Fragile (and dangerous) early nitrate film was being preserved and acquisitions policy was increasingly being guided by historical research.

In 1992 Frank Stark joined the Archive as chief executive and the Last Film Search was launched. This netted more than 7000 films in seven years. The Film Centre opened near the Wellington waterfront in 1995. Within three years storage space there was full.

By 2000, 32 staff in Wellington and Auckland looked after more than 40,000 titles. A move to Taranaki St in 2002 eased the pressure only temporarily, as holdings exceeded 100,000 by 2006.

A new climate-controlled storage facility was opened at Plimmerton, 20 km north of Wellington, in March 2011. Sited on bedrock, this building houses original master films, with copies kept in Wellington available for public viewing. By this time the Archive had nearly 50 staff who looked after more than 150,000 films and videos.

Between 2012 and 2014 the New Zealand Film Archive was amalgamated with Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero and the Television New Zealand Archive to form Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

How to cite this page

New Zealand Film Archive launched, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated