Southland Oral History Project

Southland’s stories define who we are as a people and a province.  Our project aims to capture and safeguard these stories as a collective memory of what it is to be part of this community.  The project covers a broad range of subjects, not only the defining events in our local history but also our traditions, our everyday way of life and what it means to be a Southlander.


Southland Oral History Project Commercial by Corey Fuimaono

Created by Documentary film maker Corey Fuimaono as part of his S.I.T course work. A fun video to advertise the project.

Apricots - An animation of Jean's story by Invercargill Public Library

Using audio from the Oral History collection, the digital team here at the Library turned Jean's story about her childhood into a short animated comic.


There are currently more than 300 interviews in the ever-growing collection which you can listen to in the Archives Research Room.  In addition to full-life interviews several special projects have been undertaken.  These include a collection of topic-based interviews about the 1984 Southland floods; an exhibition called About Us: Voices of Southland and the Discovering Glengarry’s Community Spirit collection and project.

Discovering Glengarry's Community Spirit

Want to hear more stories from the Glengarry community? Then check out the Discovering Glengarry's Community Spirit Story page.


Oral history is 'the living memory of the past'. It is a record of information gathered in oral form, usually by electronic means, as a result of a planned interview. Through oral history we are able to document the lives of all kinds of people.

What is the Southland Oral History Project?

The Southland Oral History Project started in 2006 with the purpose of interviewing Southlanders about their life.  

We aim to build a comprehensive collection that reflects life in Southland and what it means to be a Southlander.  

Most of the interviews are life story interviews but we do have some topic based collections. Our interviews are done by trained volunteer interviewers and the Project is overseen by a Co-ordinator. The Project is actively supported by Heritage South and the Invercargill City Libraries and Archives.

How do I listen to the interviews?

You can listen to the interviews in the Archive Research Room. You need to sign a User Registration form and must adhere to any restrictions put in place by the interviewee on the Recording Agreement Form.

Can I use them in our research?

Yes our interviews can be used to support research. You need to adhere to any restrictions the interviewee has put on the Recording Agreement Form.

If you would like to use an extract in a publication then written permission from the Project Co-ordinator is required.

How do I get involved in the Project?

Most of our volunteers become interviewers. We also invite people to support the Project by abstracting recorded interviews.

This involves listening to interviews and creating a time-kept index to them.  In both instances we provide a through training programme and continue to support you throughout your time with us.  For more information simply email the Project Co-ordinator on

Can I recommend people to be interviewed?

Yes you can.  Suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.  Information can be emailed to us or you can call and leave a message for the Project Co-ordinator.  Please note that as we are reliant on volunteers to undertake the interviews we cannot guarantee that we can interview everyone suggested to us.

What are you looking for in an interviewee?

The best interviewees are people with clear memories and the ability to tell good stories when recalling the events of their life.

Can someone give a presentation about the SOHP to our group or organisation?

The SOHP Project Co-ordinator is available to give presentations. The presentation includes extracts from collection and the Co-ordinator can provide a sound system for playing these.

What is the best way to contact the Project Co-ordinator?

As the Co-ordinator only works 7 hours per week. Please email Project Co-ordinator on to arrange a time to catch up.