Technician handles film in a lab

Preservation planning in the Pacific

Sharing industry knowledge in our region
 Rod Butler
Rod Butler at the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre

The moon reflects on the lagoon outside my hotel balcony, a soft blue light glows from the inside of the glass-walled chapel next to the water, and a stiff breeze hisses through the palm fronds. It’s easy to fall in love with Noumea.

The South East Asia Pacific Audio Visual Archives Association (SEAPAVAA) Executive Council could not have chosen a more beautiful place to hold the 1st Pacific Conference and Workshop, titled ‘The Challenge of Creating and Maintaining an Audiovisual Archive in a Fast Changing Technological World’. I have been invited here, along with my colleague Mick Newnham, to provide advice and training to participants from across the Pacific region. The conference is being held at the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre. Designed by Renzo Piano, the building is an amazing blend of modern architecture and traditional Kanak Grand Hut design, and its mission is to celebrate the indigenous culture of New Caledonia.

The conference began with a performance of traditional choir music and dance, followed by an exchange of gifts by Tuenjai Sinthunvik, SEAPAVAA President, and the head of the Cultural Centre, Emmanuel Tjibaou. Christine Poedi, Director of Services des Archives de la Nouvelle Caledonie, gave a passionate speech on the importance of Pacific governments supporting their communities to ‘manage their own memories’ through the development of skills and knowledge. Emmanuel Tjibaou supported this, stating that ‘words from the conference will be planted in our soil and will grow’. This was followed by panel sessions that focused on the principles and history of audiovisual archiving; archiving in the Pacific region; and the fundamentals of archival technology, access and acquisition.

Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation on preservation planning and will also be working with Mick to present the first two sessions of a workshop covering the structure of audiovisual objects, deterioration and preservation practices. I haven’t finished preparing for the presentation yet, and it has to be completed tonight. I’ll just go and look at the lagoon one more time …