The following report is provided in accordance with section 15(3) of the Public Records Act 2005 which requires that the Council must report to the Minister each year on the performance of its functions during the preceding year.
The Archives Council Te Rua Wananga is an unincorporated body established under the Public Records Act 2005 (part 1, section 14, 15 and 16). Its role is to provide advice to the Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand on recordkeeping and archiving matters generally, including those for which tikanga Maori is relevant. The Council also advises the Minister on authorisations to dispose of public records of Archives New Zealand, the approval of other repositories for public archives, and on appeals made to the Minister.
The Department of Internal Affairs provides administrative services to the Archives Council.
The Council consists of seven members:
Members from September 2006 to March 2010 were:
In accordance with section 14(3)(b) of the Public Records Act 2005, two Council members have knowledge of tikanga Maori.
Council members hold office for a term not exceeding three years and may be reappointed.
The Council met on five occasions during the past 18 months:
In terms of section 16(1) of the Public Records Act 2005 the Archives Council “may regulate its own procedure”. To this end the Council has adopted a Council Charter which is annexed to this Report. It is also available electronically at http://archives.govt.nz/council-charter.
Although the Council was not consulted nor had the opportunity to offer advice on the decision by government to merge Archives New Zealand, the National Library and Department of Internal Affairs, we nevertheless undertook the following specific activities.
We also addressed other important matters, as described below.
We were consulted on and provided feedback to the Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand on the State Sector Management Bill.
We provided feedback to the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs on a number of matters related to the restructuring proposals for the new department.
The Council was grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Minister to discuss its views on the Bill, and to provide feedback to the Chief Executive. The advice we provided, which relates quite specifically to archive and recordkeeping matters, is summarised below.
The Council advised the Minister that, although we acknowledged the project savings and some advantages to be gained by digital integration, we did not consider them to be of overwhelming force and were in any case largely offset by our serious concerns related to the mana and independence of the Chief Archivist.
Since its creation as a stand alone department and with a fresh, wider mandate given by the Public Records Act 2005, Archives New Zealand has not only lifted the level of government record keeping generally but it is now recognised internationally as one of the leading agencies of its kind in the world, particularly in relation to the management of electronic information. It also has an appropriately higher profile within government generally.
We noted that experience overseas and within New Zealand has shown that to be effective in fulfilling his or her recordkeeping responsibilities it is essential that the Chief Archivist is able to deal equally and independently with all other state agencies and their chief executives. In our submissions we expressed the view that the merger with the Department of Internal Affairs would put the gains of the last 10 years at risk because the loss of the ability of the Chief Archivist to meet with chief executives on equal terms would diminish the ability of the Chief Archivist to influence and persuade this important group.
The Council also raised the issue of the Chief Archivist needing to retain the power to act independently on matters of disposal, standards, preservation and access to public archives held by Archives New Zealand. The Council expressed concern that although the Bill preserved the independence of the Chief Archivist in relation to public office and local authority records it did not afford the same level of protection to public records currently held by Archives New Zealand. While this was not so much of an issue while the Chief Archivist was also Chief Executive we felt it would become one with the disestablishment of Archives New Zealand as a separate independent entity. Further, the Councils expressed concern was that in practice, as a third tier manager in the Department of Internal Affairs, the Chief Archivist may not have the requisite independence and managerial authority to carry out effectively his or her constitutional and statutory responsibilities.
Our submission recorded our view that there should not be a distinction between records held by public offices and local authorities and public records held in the repository Archives New Zealand. We advised that not including section 11 (c) of the Public Records Act 2005 in the Bill would mean that a Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs could override the decision of the Chief Archivist in relation to these records and that the independence of the Chief Archivist in relation to all recordkeeping matters would not be retained.
The Council noted that as a separate entity Archives New Zealand was required under the Public Finance Act to report on its future operating intentions in a Statement of Intent and on its performance against those intentions in the Annual Report. Once Archives New Zealand was merged with the Department of Internal Affairs information on recordkeeping matters and Archives performance in relation to its outcomes and associated performance measures would be, of necessity, very much reduced. The Council expressed the view that this was not desirable as it would result in insufficient information on the performance of Archives New Zealand being publicly available. The Council recommended that the Government give careful consideration to amending Section 32 of the Public Records Act which requires the Chief Executive to make an annual report to the Minister on recordkeeping matters to require the Chief Archivist to also report independently on the exercise of his or her statutory functions.
The Public Records Act 2005 provides for a range of circumstances where public records are transferred to the control of the Chief Archivist and possession of Archives New Zealand. The State Sector Management Bill changes the current provision so that public records are transferred to the control of the Chief Archivist and possession of the Department (meaning the Department of Internal Affairs. The Council was concerned about the implications of this change, which could mean that the public records could be stored in any location specified by the Chief Executive. The Council expressed the view that it would be preferable for the Bill to be changed to provide for records to be transferred to the control of the Chief Archivist and possession of the repository of Archives New Zealand as this simple change would provide stakeholders with added reassurance around the future care and control of public records by professional archivists. The Council is appreciative that this was accepted by the Government.
The Council sought in its submission to the Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand that section 16 of the Public Records Act be amended to ensure that the Department of Internal Affairs provides appropriately qualified administrative support to the Council and is required to provide information that the Council may reasonably be required to fulfil its functions. This recommendation was not accepted as it was outside the scope of Cabinet’s decisions. The September 2010 organisational design of the new department consultation document indicated that the Council would be supported by a dedicated team in the Chief Executive’s office. The implementation has modified this and the Council will now be supported by the Secretariat Support team within the Shared Services Branch.
In addition to those activities related to the machinery of government changes, over the year the Council reviewed and endorsed new policies on Approved Repository Application Processes and the Loan of Archives between Archives New Zealand Offices, provided comment on to 2010/11 Statement of Intent and discussed issues such as the record keeping implications of Auckland’s local government reorganisation and the recordkeeping audit of Archives New Zealand. We advocated for the creation of a Government Digital Archive and applaud the Government’s provision of substantial funding for it.
Notwithstanding the concerns expressed by the Council to the Minister and Chief Executive we are appreciative of the opportunity of commenting on the draft State Sector management Bill before its introduction and we remain committed to fulfilling the Council’s functions over 2010/11 and future years. We will be monitoring developments with interest.
Funds for the operation of the Council are provided from the budget of Archives New Zealand. The Council expresses its appreciation to Acting Chief Archivist and Chief Executive Greg Goulding for his support and for making staff, in both National and Regional offices, available to assist the Council’s deliberations and also for the services of it’s secretary, Francoise Lafferty-Hancock followed by John Wilson.
|Travel of members||5379.38|
|Other (catering, accommodation, representation)||2743.90|