The sound recordings made by the Mobile Disc Recording Unit of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service between 1946 and 1948 are an invaluable record of the changes in New Zealand speech. They show that the New Zealand accent developed relatively quickly.
The oldest speaker, Hannah Cross, was born in Dunedin in 1851 and speaks with the vowels and intonations of West Highland Scottish English. Malcolm Ritchie was born in Dunedin in 1866. His mixed accent is mainly south-western English but is influenced by Scottish, Irish and Cornish sounds, reflecting the population of Cromwell, where he grew up. The following two speakers have more recognisably New Zealand accents. Annie Hamilton was born to Irish parents in Arrowtown in 1877 but does not sound at all Irish. Likewise, Catherine Dudley, born in Otago in 1886, sounds nothing like her Scottish parents – her accent is more similar to speakers of New Zealand English in the 2000s.
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Sound files from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero (Mobile Unit recordings/Reference numbers ID5402; ID5716; ID5729; ID5737)