Archives Act passed 60 years ago today

Wed, 04/10/2017 - 1:48pm

Archives Wellington Reading Room

Archives New Zealand's Wellington Reading Room in 1985

Archives New Zealand celebrates a major milestone today when the Archives Act was passed 60 years ago.

“The first 60 years have been eventful, but I’m convinced that the next 40 years will see even greater rates of societal change and disruption that will challenge our institution’s mission,” says Richard Foy, Acting Chief Archivist.

A fire in the Hope Gibbons Building in 1952 destroyed many government records and drove legislators to ensure the safety of these records and created the Act in 1957.

As the official guardian of the record of Government, Archives New Zealand is tasked to protect, preserve and make accessible these records to all New Zealanders.

As well as preserving our history, Archives plays a key role in helping to ensure the New Zealand Government and its departments are accountable to the people.

In the holdings are archives of Government since before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi to the present day. The oldest archive is a 1776 letter from Captain James Cook.

And they are fascinating: This quote is taken from the Ray Waru book ‘Secrets and Treasures.’

“If we ate it, dug it up, blew it up or saw it flying through the air there will be a record of it in the Archive.”

The records are valuable because they tell us about ourselves. They include births, deaths and marriages; records of the judicial system and coroner’s inquests and probates, war service and immigration records, whakapapa records and more.

The next 60 years will bring new challenges. Archives New Zealand is already transitioning into the digital future of archives and record keeping.

“We must be bolder and more courageous in experimenting and exploring unknown territories. If not for older digital natives, but for the Born Digital Natives” says Richard Foy.

“Here’s to celebrating an incredible first 60 years as a national archive.”

View images from the last 60 years on the Archives Flickr account