The New Zealand accent was first noticed around 1900 when it was called a ‘colonial twang’. Recordings of old New Zealanders collected in the 1940’s by the New Zealand National Broadcasting Service have enabled researchers at the University of Canterbury to study the speech of men and women who were among the first English speaking children born in New Zealand. This work has shown that the accent was formed between 1850 and 1880. In this lecture Elizabeth Gordon will consider some of the explanations for the origins of the New Zealand accent. Using examples from the early recordings she will describe some of the research findings on how our variety of English evolved.