When asked what events stood out in her memory and where she was at the time historian Dr Claudia Orange said (Press 7/2/09): “Man on the moon. I remember drawing my children to the television to watch it happen so they would remember it. For them, it’s become their indelible memory, too. It’s that sense of wonderment, taking a huge leap into what was then a fairly unknown world for the average New Zealander.”

The inference is that the Orange family watched the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing live. If they did they must have been in the USA or Australia or elsewhere. The first live international broadcast in New Zealand was not until 1973. In fact, it was only in 1969 that TV news bulletins were broadcast from all four main centres simultaneously.

If Dr Orange were in New Zealand, what she may have done is either drawn her children to the radio, which provided gripping live coverage, or to TV news bulletins with delayed coverage. This came via our trans-Tasman cousins, who did have satellite TV coverage of the moon landing and who helped media-deprived Kiwis by rushing film to NZ on an RAAF bomber. This was still, of course, amazing footage although the quality was very variable, but it was not watching it as it happened.

It would be interesting to know where she was at the time. It is possible that her memory of the event became overlaid with the delayed TV film footage. If so, we can all relate to such conflations and distortions of memory. This may, in fact, be an interesting insight into the fallibility and malleability of memory which reinforces the need for special care in handling oral historical evidence.

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