Chris Knox tape archive to be preserved at Alexander Turnbull Library

News 12/12/2019

The Flying Nun Foundation has announced that the tape archive of Chris Knox, which captures years of vital musical history, is to be preserved by the Alexander Turnbull Library, a division of the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington.

Chris Knox is one of New Zealand's most significant and influential musicians and songwriters (he was also a cartoonist, artist, filmmaker, reviewer and social observer). The collection donated to the library consists of 254 tapes that span across Knox's musical career, from his punk rock band The Enemy, Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs and his rich solo catalogue, and features many previously-unreleased recordings. It also includes other projects in which the 67-year-old legend had a hand, as an artist, producer or advisor.

This project has been possible because Chris kept so much

The press release states that this significant donation is the result of more than a year of work by the Foundation, which was constituted to help preserve the heritage of Flying Nun Record, one of New Zealand's most important and influential independent record labels.

"Chris is pleased that his tapes are going to be looked after and their content digitised," says Foundation board member Barbara Ward. "We are lucky that Chris kept the majority of his recorded output at his home where much of it was recorded and that this collection will be kept together and accessible."

"This project has been possible because Chris kept so much," says Foundation chair Caroline Stone. "The past year's work has been about going through all the material, cataloguing it and checking its condition."

She went on to explain the difficulty of the project as tapes were often re-used and a labelled box might contain recordings of something completely different. "We were very lucky to have Ian Dalziel there to do that crucial initial work. Ian is not only meticulous, he was alongside Chris for many of those years – not least as a roadie for Toy Love – so he was able to pick up and understand things others might not."

A small section of Knox's reel-to-reel tapes

This project marks a key milestone towards one of the Foundation's key goals which is to establish relationships and practices with major archival institutions so that other holders of Flying Nun heritage material will find it easier to donate their own collections if they choose.

At the Alexander Turnbull Library, the tapes will be preserved over the next three years and restored when necessary. The recordings on them will be digitised and will be available for future releases. People will be able to listen to and research the recordings at the National Library located in New Zealand's capital city.

The Archive of New Zealand Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library was established in 1974 by composer Douglas Lilburn and contains the largest collection of archival material relating to New Zealand music and musicians. It sits alongside the largest public collection of published New Zealand and Pacific recordings, also in the Library's collections.

Alexander Turnbull Library is a division of the National Library of New Zealand, which is part of Te Tari Taiwhenua.