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Fisher and Tui Sound Heads:

                 Distinctly New Zealand

                                   By David Lascelles

            The story by Tim Armstrong in      Cinema Supplies Ltd. distributed
          CinemaRecord 59 - Australasia’s   and marketed the Tui around the
          Innovators Of Image and Sound - gives  country under the name Realtone
          an opportunity to say more about two  Sound Systems. The beautiful Tui bird
          New Zealand sound heads.          trademark engraved on every unit with
            Fisher Sound Heads were         the words ‘Natural Sound’, made them
          manufactured by T. A. Fisher Ltd., of  distinctly New Zealand.  ★
          King Street in Newtown Wellington.
                                                                               The Tui or Parson bird is a large honey-
          The design was similar to that of the
                                                                               eater and skilled mimic.
          RCA sound head, which was in
          widespread use. (One story recounts
          how someone from Fishers spent hours
          in the projection box of the Paramount
          Theatre in Wellington drawing and
          photographing their RCA projector
          sound heads).
            Manufacturing started in the early
          1930s, with a large and bulky first
          model. An improved, second version
          which came out in the mid-to-late
          1930s was more compact and simple to
          fit. It found a ready market when war-
          time restrictions made imported
          equipment difficult to obtain.
            These sound heads could be fitted to
          any projector and were priced
          competitively. Production continued until
          around 1953 - although Fisher’s were
          still marketing them as late as 1958.
            Tui sound heads were manufactured
                                            No mistaking a Tui sound head!
          by Bettany Engineering Ltd., of
          Taranaki Street, Wellington from the
          mid-30s until about 1955. (Bettany also
          made feed sprockets for Ernemann
            Their Tui sound head was probably
          better than the Fisher, and like its rival
          it was also compact in size and design,
          making it ideal for smaller machines.
            During WorId War II they were
          fitted to many portable Powers
          projectors used by travelling showman.
          They were also popular for projectors
          in hostels and in Army Camps. For
          many years a pair were in use at the
          RNZAF base at Shelly Bay Wellington.

                                            A Fisher sound head, model two; compact and versatile.
                                            Photos centre and above by the author. Both images courtesy of Time Cinema Collection.

                                                                                       CINEMARECORD 2008 11
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