Registering New Zealand’s heritage documents with UNESCO

May 11, 2011

Nominations are being called for items to be included in a new register for significant New Zealand documentary heritage. The first nominations for the register close on 8 June.
The New Zealand Memory of the World Register is being compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) New Zealand Memory of the World Committee. Archives New Zealand is a member of the committee established by UNESCO in June last year to coordinate the register.
“A successful nomination will raise the profile of an institution and the work it does to preserve documentary heritage,” says Evelyn Wareham, Committee Treasurer and Digital Continuity Manager, Archives New Zealand.

Documentary heritage can be in digital or analogue format, such as, documents, books, newspapers, posters and non-textual items including, photographs, films, discs, drawings, prints, maps; online media items, social media databases, mobile digital devices.
To be selected for registration on the New Zealand Memory of the World Register the documentary heritage should:

  • be unique and irreplaceable – in that it has demonstrable historic, aesthetic or cultural significance to a community or the nation
  • document a significant historical or cultural event that has had a lasting impact and influenced the course of New Zealand history
  • be an outstanding example of a document or an experience.

New inscriptions to the register will be announced on Thursday 30 June 2011.
What is Memory of the World?

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World programme in 1992 to guard against collective loss of awareness of documentary heritage. Memory of the World aims to recognise significant documentary heritage in a similar fashion to the way UNESCO's World Heritage Convention and World Heritage List recognises significant natural and cultural sites.

Countries may develop their own national registers. The most significant items can also be nominated for inscription on the international or regional Memory of the World Registers.

Archives New Zealand holds the two New Zealand documents inscribed on UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Register – the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition – in the Constitution Room in Archives New Zealand’s Wellington Office.

A third New Zealand document, the papers of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials 1946-1948, held by the McMillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury is the first documentary heritage from New Zealand to be inscribed on the Asia Pacific Memory of the World register.

For information about the UNESCO New Zealand Memory of the World Programme and the process for having documentary heritage inscribed on Information including the nomination form please visit or contact if you would like to receive further information about the New Zealand Memory of the World Register with a request to subscribe.