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Library of Congress archives

The United States Library of Congress has selected the website for preservation in the Library of Congress Web Archive. RNZ's Bryan Crump talks to founder Gareth Watkins. The interview was broadcast on RNZ National during Nights with Bryan Crump on 4 August 2021.

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Media Release is delighted to announce that the United States Library of Congress has selected the website for preservation in the Library of Congress Web Archive. “It’s wonderful to have such a prestigious international library recognise the significance of LGBTI rainbow experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand” says founder Gareth Watkins. “It is a richly deserved tribute to the hundreds of community members that have freely shared their experiences with the world.” The Library of Congress preserves internationally important cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them. In correspondence to PrideNZ it said “We consider your website to be an important part of this collection and the historical record.” “I was taken completely by surprise when we received the notification” said Watkins. “This is the first time a collecting institution has approached PrideNZ to archive its content. It is notable and perhaps sadly telling that the request has actually come from outside of Aotearoa. As the audio collection has grown to over nine hundred recordings, the thought of losing our history through technological failures has weighed heavily on the PrideNZ team. Having a large, well-resourced institution like the Library of Congress preserving a copy of these voices increases the likelihood that our stories will survive to be heard by future generations.” While the library will enable people to access the audio content that is already publicly accessible, it does not alter ownership or other rights relating to the material, “If people want to reproduce the content in the future, they will still need to seek permission” says Watkins. The current website has been online since 2010. But earlier incarnations of the site - pre-Internet audio streaming - date back to the 1990s. “Streaming audio and video content wasn't easily achievable back in the 1990s. I used to post CDs of the audio recordings around the world. You were never quite sure if they ever made it to their destination.” But many did. Last year PrideNZ received a message, twenty years on, from a listener in Arkansas, USA: “I received the CDs from you during a very trying time in my life. I was wrestling to fit into the life of a gay man in the American South. Life had been a roller coaster for me for years – from bullying in high school to death threats to being thrown out of my home by my family and a loss of almost all of my friends to an attempt at suicide. My life was just starting to get on track when I received the CDs from you. I would listen to them on repeat during my daily commute. The voices calmed me and made me feel like part of a larger community, albeit a community I didn’t have access to in Arkansas. I laughed with them and I cried with them. They allowed me to stay in touch with a core part of me that I didn’t want to deny anymore. So I guess what I am saying is thank you. I know these audio files were probably just a small moment in your life, but for me they were a beacon of hope.” Watkins reflects “To me, the inclusion of content in the Library of Congress archive is also a beacon of hope. The documented voices and experiences are not only a taonga (treasure) now, but will become a touchstone for generations to come, creating a pathway for future LGBTI rainbow people to hear who we were, how we spoke and what our dreams and aspirations were.”


The RNZ National broadcast of "Nights with Bryan Crump" on August 4, 2021, celebrated an important milestone for New Zealand's LGBTQI+ community—the inclusion of the website in the Library of Congress Web Archive. During the program, Bryan Crump interviewed founder of the website, Gareth Watkins, a former RNZ producer, engineer, and dedicated archivist. Watkins shared insights into the site, which began in 2010 and has since amassed over 900 audio recordings capturing the multifaceted experiences of New Zealand's queer community dating back to the 1960s.

The discussion highlighted the importance of broad representation within the archive, emphasizing the inclusion of not just prominent figures but also everyday life in the LGBTQI+ community. This approach to curation enriches the narrative, augmenting the historical significance of the site. Watkins underlined the evolution of queer media production through access community radio, where voice recordings transcend public and commercial broadcasters.

Watkins also reflected on personal experiences, including their interest in archiving, influenced by familial practices of oral storytelling from their Welsh heritage. They discussed the role of community radio in documenting queer culture before internet streaming was possible, and how sharing recordings internationally, like sending out CDs in the 1990s, provided hope and validation to LGBTQI+ individuals in less affirming environments.

Throughout the show, extracts from the PrideNZ archive were played, illustrating the profound impact of the archive's stories. One audio clip featured a participant expressing their newfound confidence and sense of community. Another featured a reflection on the solidarity shown by the Presbyterian congregation of St Andrews on the terrace after the Christchurch terror attacks, highlighting how suffering a minority status can make society edgy.

In recognising the historical and cultural importance of the site, Watkins mentioned the honor bestowed upon the contributors of the site, illustrating the power of community involvement in gathering and documenting histories. Watkins shared their aspirations for the archive's future, emphasizing the importance of preservation and encouraging the recording of personal histories in various formats.

Watkins pointed to the supportive role of technology but also acknowledged its vulnerability, highlighting initiatives such as the Library of Congress and New Zealand National Library's efforts to archive the material for posterity.

This poignant interview showcases the importance of recording and sharing the stories of marginalized communities. Watkins underlined the fundamental idea that the essence of archiving is seen not through professional equipment but through the genuineness of the heart.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Broadcast date:4th August 2021
Interviewer:Bryan Crump
Audio courtesy of:Radio New Zealand
Location:Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
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