Recommendations for coping with disaster and change in Chief Archivist's government recordkeeping report
Public offices should have plans to prepare for and manage the effects of natural disasters on their records and information, says Chief Archivist Greg Goulding in his latest report on the state of government recordkeeping.
“Archives New Zealand is committed to assisting in the rescue and recovery of public records in Canterbury,” Mr Goulding said.
“The Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 have shown the impact that natural disasters can have on New Zealand. Although natural disasters have significant and visible effects, disasters can occur in many forms. Information from Archives New Zealand’s annual government recordkeeping survey indicates that many public offices are not as prepared as they should be to manage the effects of disasters on their records and information. Appropriate disaster recovery/business continuity planning for records and information management can assist in both prevention and response.”
Tabled in Parliament this week, the Chief Archivist’s Report on the State of Government Recordkeeping 2010 also makes recommendations to ensure information is well managed during times of changes within the public sector.
“In this world of constant change it is more important than ever for public sector agencies to develop good information management frameworks to ensure continuity of government services and continued accountability of government,” Mr Goulding says.
As public offices increase the delivery of online services there are opportunities to ensure that information management is integrated into system design. Ensuring systems can create and maintain reliable business information and records supports efficient business practice and helps enable the delivery of better, smarter public services.
The report also reflects on the five years since the passing of the Public Records Act 2005. During this time significant progress has been made in public sector recordkeeping practices. Archives New Zealand has identified three enablers of good information management in which public offices have made notable improvement:
- 93 per cent of public offices state they now have, or are working towards implementing a formal recordkeeping programme
- Many more offices are also working towards systems to support compliance within the Act; demonstrating there is an increased realisation within public offices of the benefits of full and accurate recordkeeping
- Public offices must be authorised by the Chief Archivist to dispose of their records. Disposal covers a range of activities including destruction or transfer to Archives New Zealand. In 2010 close to half of all public offices have gained disposal authorisation from the Chief Archivist for their core business records.
Implementation of disposal authorities is identified as a major area for improvement. Regular and routine disposal of public records is a key way to improve business efficiency. Only managing information for as long as it is required to be kept reduces storage costs and saves unnecessary time managing records that are no longer required.
Mr Goulding says many historic records of value to New Zealand are held in public offices throughout the country. Transferring them to Archives New Zealand eases the burden on public offices to care for these records and lets them focus on their core business.
The report is available on Archives New Zealand’s website
Two documents from Archives New Zealand and one from the National Library’s Alexander Turnbull Library were formally recognised on the UNESCO New Zealand Memory of the World Register at an inaugural launch function for the register on 30 June.
The three documents are the 1840 Tiriti o Waitangi and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition, both held at Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office, and the manuscript score of Douglas Lilburn's Overture: Aotearoa – an overture for orchestra written in 1940, while Lilburn was a student in London at the Royal College of Music – and held at the Turnbull Library.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Women’s Suffrage petition are also on UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Register.
Two other documents recorded on the New Zealand register are the Tokyo War Crimes Trials Papers 1946-1948 held at University of Canterbury, also on the Memory of the World Asia and Pacific register, and the Grey New Zealand Māori manuscripts. The manuscript, book collection and personal papers collection of Sir George Grey, twice Governor of New Zealand, are held by the Auckland Libraries.
Bryan Gould, Chair New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, said the ‘ESC’ in UNESCO stood for education, science and culture and UNESCO had an important role in supporting countries worldwide in these fields.
Protecting a country’s heritage helped people understand their own and others’ cultures.
UNESCO launched the Memory of the World programme in 1992 to recognise significant documentary heritage in a similar fashion to the way UNESCO's World Heritage List recognises significant natural and cultural sites. The move to ensure culturally iconic documents will be protected into the future was made in response to their being targeted during the Bosnian War.
The International Memory of the World Register aims to bring the value and significance of documentary heritage to wider public notice, along with the work performed by libraries, archives and museums in preserving this valuable heritage. The programme developed from a growing awareness to preserve and open up access to heritage documentation throughout the world.
The New Zealand Memory of the World Programme is one of over 60 Memory of the World programmes and was established in 2010 by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.
After the awards were presented by National Librarian Bill Macnaught, guests were treated to a viewing of several short silent films from circa 1930 about the South Pacific, held at the New Zealand Film Archive, and preserved and made accessible with UNESCO funding.
Pictured above: At the awards ceremony (left to r)ight) Bryan Gould, Chair New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, Dianne Macaskill, Chair of the UNESCO New Zealand Memory of the World Register programme and former Chief Archivist Archives New Zealand, and National Librarian Bill Macnaught.
Pictured above: Award recipients (left to right) Greg Goulding, Chief Archivist and General Manager Archives New Zealand; Sue Cooper, Regional Heritage and Research Manager Auckland Libraries; Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian Alexander Turnbull Library; and Brian Pauling, Chair of the Culture sub-commission of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO who received the citation for the Tokyo War Crime Trials collection. Brian is based in Christchurch and received the citation on behalf of Jill Durney, University of Canterbury Macmillan Brown Library Manager who was unable to be at the function due to dealing with the aftermath of the February 22 earthquake.
Archives New Zealand is issuing a Disposal Authority for public records that have been affected by the Canterbury Earthquakes on 4 September 2010, 22 February 2011 and 13 June 2011. The Canterbury Earthquakes Disposal Authority is intended to assist public offices who have records located in the Canterbury region in applying for authorisation for the final destruction, or archiving, of records under s20 of the Public Records Act 2005.