A special piece of equipment on its way from the United States which will unlock the secrets of an estimated 22,000 rolls of film taken in Hawke’s Bay during the last 70-plus years.
Russell Spiller is a name many long-time Hawke’s Bay residents will know – a noted local photographer who ran Batchelor’s Candid Studios in Napier from 1946 to 1981.
In his time he took thousands of rolls of film, at weddings, christenings, family gatherings and public events.
The project to review more than 22,000 rolls of film has been taken on by the team at Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank, based at the Hastings District Council-owned Stoneycroft Reserve in Omahu Rd, Hastings.
Volunteers will digitally archive content from the films loaned to them by the Spiller family and make the images available through its website. Even with the special equipment, the project is expected to take almost two years to complete.
The slide and negative scanner is being purchased with a $9575 grant from this year’s Hastings District Council Contestable Grants Fund.
The fund is distributed annually to groups developing or delivering a community service or project which fits with Council’s aim of “building a safe, liveable, sustainable community”. Council is profiling successful applicants from this year’s grants round.
The Hawke’s Bay Digital Archives Trust was set up in 2011 to ensure the “wealth of fading photographs, letters, recordings and much more stashed away in old shoeboxes and family collections” was not lost forever, said trust chairman Peter Dunkerley. The trust opened the doors of The Knowledge Bank in December 2012.
“Most of the material we look after doesn’t belong in a museum but it is most certainly worth keeping. Modern technologies allow us to capture and preserve this valuable community resource for future generations, on a much larger scale and at a lower cost than preserving the physical objects, Mr Dunkerley said.
He is expecting some real delights to come out of the Spiller collection. “A lot has changed over the 70 years this collection covers and there will be some very interesting recent history moments captured. This is exactly why the Knowledge Bank was started, so we don’t lose treasures like these collections.”
For more information on Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank see: knowledgebank.org.nz