Protecting our national identity and culture

As custodians of our key constitutional documents we continued to provide free access to taonga (such as Te Tiriti o Waitangi, He Whakaputanga, and the Women’s Suffrage Petition at He Tohu)* for all New Zealanders.

He Tohu Tāmaki, based on He Tohu at the National Library in Wellington, was created as a pilot teaching and learning experience for teachers and students in the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland region and opened in July 2019. Collaboration with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei on He Tohu Tāmaki was fundamental to its development and is another example of a successful Crown-Iwi partnership.

We continued to support Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, Poet Laureate 2017-19 to create new work and promote poetry throughout the country. A strong advocate for Pasifika poetry and literature, Dr Marsh has helped to ensure that the Pasifika culture is reflected in our national identity through her new work entitled ‘Tokotoko trio’. Her tenure ended in July 2019.


Since Archives New Zealand established an upscaled digitisation programme in July 2017, over 80,000 images have been digitised.

We’ve continued to tackle the challenge of the long-term preservation of, and access to, digital information of national significance. This includes investment to digitise the unique documentary heritage held by Archives New Zealand and the National Library, making it more accessible now and for future generations.

Over 1.7 million heritage items were digitised and made available to New Zealanders in the past year. We work together with commercial and non-profit organisations on some digitisation projects which means the costs are shared, our outputs are increased, and the collections can be integrated with other like collections from around the world.

Archives New Zealand continued to develop its digital transfer processes, completing its first born-digital email transfer in 2018/19.

The National Library, through the Alexander Turnbull Library (ATL), acquired the Flying Nun Records collection of master studio recordings which significantly strengthened the Library’s coverage of New Zealand music and popular culture. The collection comprises approximately 1,000 recordings from 1982 - 2002. The National Library has started digitising the collection which will preserve the collection and make it accessible to researchers.

‘At risk’ material has been preserved and made available online.


We have continued to ensure our documents are protected. We have maintained storage environments to a high quality, exceeding the minimum international standards for temperature and humidity control in Archives New Zealand and the National Library.

Ngāi Tahu has had a longstanding relationship with the Department and in particular with Archives and National Library. The new Christchurch Archives New Zealand building, for example, was developed in partnership with the Ngāi Tūāhuriri hapu of Ngāi Tahu who are the mana whenua grouping in Christchurch. Te Matapopore is the hapu’s arm which has been guiding and assisting across the city with the Christchurch rebuild. Te Matapopore ensured that:

  • the building included elements of Ngāi Tahu design and artwork
  • work spaces were named for important local ancestors, and
  • the hapu led the opening formalities of the new facility.

The partnership with Ngāi Tahu is ongoing after the opening of the Archive with iwi information managers and archivists also taking the opportunity to use the new facilities to do their work. Ngāi Tahu kaumatua Sir Tipene O’Regan has also toured the facility and is partnering with Archives NZ to store his voluminous collection of personal papers including his documents from his Treaty negotiations role. DIA is looking to progress a relationship MOU with the iwi to formalise this ongoing culture and heritage collaboration.

New Zealand was successful in its bid to host the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in Auckland in August 2022. The bid was submitted by the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) with the support of the New Zealand Government through the National Library of New Zealand.

*23: Archives and the National Library documentary heritage is valued at $1.7 billion in the Crown accounts. By making it available for educational, personal interest or for business purposes, we are contributing to our nation’s economic value through knowledge creation - and are creating social and cultural capital for our people and communities, or whanaungatanga.

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