Welcome to the spring edition of Archives New Zealand’s quarterly newsletter. In this issue, many of the articles focus on our work to make the records we keep more available to our customers.
Digitising the records, having good working practices in place and talking to our customers about what they want are all ways we can do this.
These themes and more were discussed in-depth at the International Council of Archives (ICA) four-yearly Congress in Brisbane. Held for the first time in the southern hemisphere the event presented many in Australia and New Zealand with a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with colleagues from around the globe to share information and discuss challenges.
For me, meeting national archivists from so many of our sister institutions was tremendously encouraging for two reasons:
Using advanced technology to find out more about how documents react to light over time is providing us with vital information on how documents currently held in the Constitution Room can best be displayed when they move later next year to their new home in Molesworth Street. Archives New Zealand will be showcasing these documents, including the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, alongside an interactive display so New Zealanders and visitors to this country can learn more about our national story.
Knowing what to look out for in terms of preservation requirements means we can do this with greater confidence.
Moving Te Tiriti and the other priceless documents to their new home is a very important undertaking and I want to take this opportunity to introduce our new Project Manager. Kit O’Conner. Kit joins the team this month and will be guiding the process from here on. Watch for regular updates on progress both through Ngā Tapuwae, meetings and briefings and also via a dedicated page on the Archives New Zealand website.
Your feedback on this and previous issues of Ngā Tapuwae is always welcome. This time we’ve included a survey. Please help us to get more details about the kind of information you want and in what format by filling out the survey.
Enjoy the read.
All the best Greg
The world of information and archival management is rapidly changing with a focus on open, government, open data and open access.
A glimpse into the congress venue
This change raises concerns about privacy and the security of data which means the challenge is to ensure openness and transparency is supported by good records management.
This topic was one up for debate at the International Council of Archives (ICA) four-yearly congress held in August in Brisbane Australia. In the Southern Hemisphere for the first time enabled a 10-strong contingent from Archives New Zealand to attend.
Several gave papers and participated in workshops, they networked and they zoomed from presentation to presentation in a full-on week long programme attended by representatives from 90 counties.
Denise Williams, Manager Disposal and Acquisition says the challenges facing Archives New Zealand and information managers in the public service are similar to those archivists and recordkeepers are managing across the globe.
"Records underpin the rights of individuals and we need to ensure there is a balance between making the information available and an individual’s rights to privacy," she said. "We can do this by focusing on the creation of good records and the business process and management of those records."
This is an area where Denise says more work needs to be done to ensure recordkeeping is built into business systems and relationships with agencies need to move away from the operational to the strategic.
Alison Fleming, Programme Manager Government Digital Archive, agrees saying research shows most agencies do business digitally, but do not recognise their business systems are creating records and so are not then managing this information as records.
"David Fricker, Director General Australian National Archives gave a provocative address in which he suggested ‘every current principle around recordkeeping and information management is likely to be turned on its head in the next decade’," says Alison. "With the rising expectation of open and transparent government information is increasingly seen as public information. This access to a myriad of information through a myriad of sources 24x7 means we need to constantly access new tools and scrutinise how this information is held, whether it be cloud storage or web mash."
Jeremy Cauchi, Senior Adviser Planning and Development, says the recordkeeping implications of social media was a common theme in a number of papers. Figures quoted suggest 66 percent of Americans use social media and frighteningly only half of young people aged 15 to 24 read books for information and recreation.
"The development of interactive, online business applications including tools for archival disposal is another trend. Increasing use of online applications to allow for collaborative and innovative use and reuse of archival material is likely to be a future emphasis as more information is made available online."
"Crowd sourcing and collaboration with third parties are being used as a means to improve archives accessibility in a fiscally constrained period. The UK National Archives have had 55 million pounds worth of digitisation initiatives funded by third parties over the last 10 years and the US National Archives and Records Administration has had 400 pages of handwritten archives transcribed through a crowd sourcing programme. "
Senior Archivist Belinda Battley agrees saying for her one of the major impressions of the conference was that most Archives are working on how not to be left behind in the digital revolution.
"Participative approaches to describing and managing archives was also widely discussed," she said. "This gives traditionally less-powerful groups the opportunity to have input into the management, understanding and sharing of information by and about them.
"The role of archives in healing and reconciliation after social injustices, and the ongoing conflict between freedom of information and privacy was also discussed widely."
The importance of archives in protecting and enhancing human rights left a strong impression with Archivist Caroline Etherington.
"I was interested to hear about the movement in some countries to collect private archives by public institutions to preserve the heritage of minority groups. ‘Public archives are dominated by the majority’, said Ellen Røsjø from the Oslo City Archives, Norway. ‘Quod non est in actis, non est in mundo’ – ‘If you’re not in the archives, you don’t exist’, and everyone has a right to a past.
"Another fascinating paper warned that books are becoming archives, as libraries digitise their stock, then pulp the originals," Caroline said. "Catalogues are not being updated, leading to the extinction of some books in hard copy.
"Original books are the gold standard for the digital versions, and archivists may need to step in. With Professor Kim Scott, Montana State University commenting that libraries are becoming book-decorated internet cafés."
Hydro-electric power has been on the New Zealand scene since the early 1900s, culminating in the boom period in the 1950s and 1960s, as Archives New Zealand records reveal.
Maraetai under construction,
Archives Reference: R23559690
In 1946 construction began on Maraetai, one of three hydro-electric power stations planned for the Waikato River. Preliminary construction included the building of the Mangakino township as an accommodation and service base. Work started on the diversion tunnel and in 1949 the dam itself. The powerhouse and penstocks followed and on 5 September1953, Maraetai was officially opened.
The Maraetai Control Room,
Archives Reference: R23559691
The first government hydro-electric scheme was Lake Coleridge in 1914, followed by a small number of schemes culminating in the boom period of the 1950s and 1960s which saw a large increase in New Zealand’s hydro-electric, thermal and geothermal power generation capacity.
The penstocks at Maraetai,
Archives Reference: R23559696
Archives New Zealand has thousands of records from the Power Engineering Division of the Ministry of Works and other related agencies concerning the construction, maintenance and generation of power, including proposals for nuclear power stations. Formats include files, plans, dossiers, photos, slides and film.
For more details go to Archway and use the Simple Search function to look for: dam, power station, hydro-electric, thermal and geothermal or pop in the name of the power station you would like to search for.
Cutting edge technology being used to provide vital information on the treasured documents held in Archives New Zealand’s Constitution Suite will help to define how they will be showcased when they move next year to their new home in Molesworth Street.
In the Archives New Zealand Wellington lab
checking out data revealed by the Microfade Tester,
Left to right: Bruce Ford, Greg Goulding,
Stefanie Lash, Diana Coop
In August, conservation scientist Bruce Ford spent a week in the Archives New Zealand Wellington laboratory using a Microfade Tester, to check how rapidly the inks and dyes fade when the documents are exposed to light.
Although it’s been around for some 10 years, the instrument has only recently become commercially available. There are about twenty of these highly specialised optical instruments worldwide and Bruce has the only one in the southern hemisphere.
In a process known as accelerated aging, the instrument assesses the rate at which pigments, dyes and inks respond to light. This is done by tracking small changes to their colour during brief exposure to an intense yet tiny beam of light.
"There's no contact with the document, and the process leaves no visible trace," says Bruce.
"A microscope is used to locate and record the minute areas probed; these are less than the size of a full-stop and comfortably fit within the width of an average pen stroke.
"The information is then extrapolated to give us a picture of the much larger light exposure the whole document will be exposed to over their years of exhibition life. This enables us to make much more informed decisions about the light levels documents should be exposed to and for how long they should be displayed.
"We want these important Constitution documents to be on public display, but at the same time there is an imperative to protect them from light damage, which is unfortunately inevitable if they are to be seen."
In the past, decisions about light exposure and document display have largely been based on the test fading of surrogate samples which attempted to reproduce historic ink technologies.
Unfortunately these results, coupled with the physical history of the documents, were so variable that the only responsible course of action for displaying significant documents like the Treaty was to be very cautious.
"We can do much better now. The data from microfade testing enables us to make more exact decisions about each unique document." Bruce says. "The results from my work at Archives New Zealand show that the two Treaty of Waitangi sheets on parchment are relatively lightfast compared to the other seven which were written on paper. These will need much more stringent safeguards if all the documents are to survive together long into the future."
Bruce has also scrutinised the Letters Patent, the New Zealand Coat of Arms, Hobson’s letter of appointment and the Royal Warrant.
Having access to the new microfade testing technology is timely, with the work currently underway to ensure a smooth move for the the Constitution documents in the Molesworth Street building.
"We need to preserve the documents for future generations. This information gives us many more options to consider," says Diana Coop, Collection Care Manager for Archives New Zealand. "At the same time, we want a welcoming, informative and interactive display where people can learn about and understand New Zealand’s heritage."
In the Archives New Zealand Wellington laboratory checking out the data revealed by the Microfade Tester, from left to right, Bruce Ford, Chief Archivist Greg Goulding, Archivist Stefanie Lash and Diana Coop.
Charter of 1840 -
Constitution of the Colony of New Zealand
Documents put under scrutiny include the Charter of 1840 – Constitution of the Colony of New Zealand into a separate colony. [Archives reference: IA 9 6] Also commonly called the Letters Patent, this archive constitutes New Zealand as a separate Crown Colony in the British Empire, as of 16 November 1840.
Since January 1839, New Zealand had been part of the colony of New South Wales. It also describes the offices of the government to be established in New Zealand.
The Great Seal of the Realm, made of wax, shows Queen Victoria on the throne. On the back of the Seal Victoria is on horseback, with a Latin motto around the rim that translates as: Victoria, by the grace of God, Queen of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.
Captain William Hobson's Appointment
as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand
Captain William Hobson’s Appointment as Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand, 30 July 1839. [Archives reference: IA 9 3] This beautiful hand-painted and gilded archive appoints William Hobson as Lieutenant Governor of those parts of New Zealand that were to be ‘acquired in sovereignty’.
New Zealand's boundaries are described in latitude and longitude. The appointment is signed by Queen Victoria in the top left, and Normanby, the Secretary of State for Colonies, in the bottom right.
Archives New Zealand, holds in its Object Store another appointment letter similar to this one – made out mistakenly to John Hobson.
Bruce hails from Oamaru and is now based in Australia. He enjoys his job helping the public to have increased access to important documents and works of art while also keeping them safe for future generations.
Bruce's work has taken him to the Tate Gallery in London and the Guggenheim in New York where he has recently evaluated works by van Gogh, Picasso, Blake and others. At the National Museum of Australia, his work enabled baby Azaria Chamberlain’s christening dress (donated by her mother Lindy Chamberlain) to be displayed more often than had previously been assumed. He has also tested the Australian constitutional documents signed by Queen Victoria in the final year of her life for the National Archives Australia, Canberra.
Microfade testing has also been applied to the inks used by Queen Elizabeth and former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to sign the 1982 Constitution Act which established the formal separation of Canada from the British Crown. Also to come under the microscope is the first photograph ever taken, Niépce's 1826 heliograph View from the Window at Le Gras held by the Harry Ransom Centre in Austin Texas.
Important and vital work to bring New Zealand’s documented diplomatic history into the public eye is done behind the scenes at Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office.
Jim Howell and Elizabeth Beaufort,
Document vetters check the MFAT file
to see what can be publicly released
Making available valuable information on New Zealand’s foreign policy and international relationships are three former Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) officials. Elizabeth Beaufort, Jim Howell and Daniel Richards, now well into their second careers as document vetters, make up the team that checks archived MFAT files to see what can be publicly released.
The MFAT file release is an annual event, taking place at the beginning of August, and is part of the Ministry’s ongoing programme of reviewing and releasing classified material. Over 1300 files were released in 2012 alone, and it is the work done by Elizabeth, Jim and Daniel throughout each year which ensures that such files meet the criteria for release.
Vetting at Archives New Zealand focuses on records transferred before the formal establishment of the team; new transfers of records are now vetted prior to their deposit. To be released to the public:
"Our work gives us a great insight on New Zealand diplomacy," Jim says. "Today’s communication tools have brought the world closer and made physical communication so much more immediate, but the essence of diplomacy -- the human element in communication, the face to face dialogue -- is as important today as ever it was.
"My experience in overseas postings sets the work I do in context and builds awareness of the issues and subtleties that can make documents sensitive."
Jim and Daniel jointly bring over 100 years of MFAT experience to their vetting roles. Each has had seven overseas postings and their cross-accreditation work saw them gain knowledge of many more countries. Elizabeth’s 40 years public sector service includes an overseas’ posting with MFAT. Collectively the trio have covered most areas of MFAT work.
Drawing on her corporate knowledge, Elizabeth enjoys the files that tell the New Zealand aid story.
"Revealing how we went about things and the successes is very satisfying," she says. "Security classifications can rapidly change. Some documents are highly sensitive one day and then the circumstances change and they can be released. Hypothetically, for example, the diplomatic instructions to deliver a declaration of war fit into this category.
"Negotiations with the European Economic Community in the 1970s and 1980s over our primary product exports is another example. Instructions to negotiators were highly confidential before talks, but then rapidly lost their sensitivity.
"A quite different case would be diplomatic reporting on volatile and as yet unresolved situations. Or if the confidential discussions between New Zealand diplomats and officials in some countries are made public, this could prejudice relations and even spell trouble for the foreign citizens concerned. These reports may require long restrictions and revisiting again well into the future to check their suitability for the public domain."
Eventually all confidential documents will cease to be sensitive and there is no hard set rule as to what is made available when. This can happen sooner for the likes of important foreign policy and military planning issues than for say snippets of information involving people and historic disputes.
With almost 10 linear kilometres of records held at Archives New Zealand, vetting the files is a massive job and a huge responsibility. Mostly the files are post World War Two, with some dating back to nineteenth century records of the Imperial Affairs section of the Prime Minister’s office.
The files cover the full range of New Zealand diplomatic relations and activity and canvas political, trade/economic relations, defence/security, negotiations, relationships including official visits, international organisations, aid and development assistance, and the management of the country’s diplomatic network and overseas posts.
MFAT has a duty to ensure the documents passed to New Zealand in confidence by foreign governments are adequately protected. Besides checking the documents from the New Zealand perspective, some of the foreign sourced documents need to be checked with the country of origin to confirm whether they can be released or not. Sometimes documents require a bit of reflection to assess, and possibly consultation with other MFAT staff, before the vetters make a final decision.
Working through the documents takes time, but all three agree there is plenty of interest in the files and it’s a job they enjoy.
Images on display at Victoria University
A celebration of 50 years of Samoan independence and of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship between Samoa and New Zealand, took place at Victoria University’s Hunter Council Chambers in August.
Conferring of the honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, on the Honourable Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi Prime Minister of Samoa was a highlight – as was an exhibition of work from Archives New Zealand.
Led by Archivist Uili Fecteau the Archives’ team pulled together some 24 images from the Archives New Zealand collections and had them printed to large format A1 size for display.
Uili Fecteau and David Sanderson
Films from the National Film Unit featuring Samoa were also showcased on three interactive computer screens.
Samoan born Uili said it was an honour and privilege for Archives to be involved in the anniversary celebrations.
"The event centered on the 50th anniversary and the Treaty of Friendship, with the celebration focusing on the important educational and cultural relationship between the two countries.
"Most of the images we provided hadn’t been seen for 60 years and this was an excellent opportunity to display some hidden gems we hold at Archives New Zealand."
The display will be made available online.
In a push to be more relevant to customers in the digital world and ensure their needs are met, Archives New Zealand has developed an Online Strategy and is also on a mission to make the archives holdings as accessible as possible.
Director Client Capability John Roberts says Archives New Zealand is streamlining its business to increase efficiency and customer service and the online strategy is a result.
"We are being proactive in the online space," he says. We’re examining all our services and asking the question: What does it mean to deliver services in an online world?
"Do we just want to simply make our current services digital? Or can we get better results by doing things totally differently?
"The Online Strategy is about more than delivering archival content – though that’s probably our most familiar online service; it’s about how all of our services can be improved using this technology; whether we should develop new services to better exploit online opportunities; and about who we work with and how to do this."
"Now we have the strategy the next step is to get on with implementation. As we work through this phase we’ll be seeking feedback from our customers to ensure what’s good for the business is good for them."
Members of the Archives Online team
on the job in Archives NZ's Wellington office
Making archives holdings as accessible as possible means giving people what they want, in the format they want and where and when they want it, says Manager Archives Online Alan Ferris.
"We make this happen by being customer focussed – we can have people in the digitisation centre 24/7 – which gives us the flexibility to optimise our equipment and staff resources," he says.
"We also make use of the free delivery vehicles that abound in the online world. We use YouTube, for example – our aim is to add a new video to YouTube every day.
"As well we have a channel on ETV – an online television system which can be accessed from all over the world and we have a range of images available on Flickr. Our motto is: if it can be free it will be.
"And when someone wants an image or piece of film today the chances are someone else will want it tomorrow, or next week. So we try to use the images, files and videos we digitise in as wide a variety of places and formats as possible."
Examples of the work
Caption: Members of the Archives Online team on the job in Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office.
The Mayor of Auckland Len Brown made a special trip to Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office to see two of the earliest Auckland land purchase deeds dating back to the 1840s, on a visit to the capital in the last week of August.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown checks out
early Auckland land purchase documents
with Archivist Graham Langton
"The documents have special relevance to the city and I often refer to them in speeches," Mayor Len Brown said. "This is why I wanted to see the originals for myself. They are quite fascinating."
From 1840-1842, the first was for the original Auckland purchase, an upside down triangle with its apex at Mt Eden/Maunga Whau and its base on the Waitemata Harbour. The second, dating from 1842-1843 refers to a more rectangular block outside that triangle, on the east with a line from Orakei to Maunga Kiekie/One Tree Hill, then west to Mount Roskill (‘Puke Tapapa’) and north to the Whau stream and the Waitemata Harbour.
"Both these documents [Archives Reference: ABWN 8102 W5279/154 AUC 83 & AUC 120] are typical of such early records, somewhat damaged, largely from being folded for too long", says Archivist Graham Langton.
In the second record, for example, a little is missing from the bottom of the original Māori version and the signatures are on a separate sheet. The original Deed of Purchase is complete, with signatures, a list of what was paid, and an accompanying translation. Turton's Deeds, held at the Auckland City Library, include a printed Māori and English language copy of the text and signatories.
The Mayor quickly decided he wanted high resolution copies of the documents so they can be made into a permanent display at the Auckland City Council building.
A visit to the Constitution Room to see this country’s foundation documents including the nine sheets of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi was also on the Mayor’s agenda.
Working with agencies to develop a smooth process to transfer digital records to Archives New Zealand is the rationale behind a number of current digital archive pilot projects.
Laurinda and Denise
with some former tools of their trade
The Government Digital Archive will be up and running by the middle of 2013 and pilot programmes and close liaison with agencies is the best way to ensure streamlined and efficient systems are in place.
Laurinda Thomas, Public Sector Digital Manager and Denise Williams Manager Disposal and Acquisition say the idea is to learn as much from the pilots as possible over the next few months and use this information to design procedures and develop the right advice and support for agencies.
"The pilots are helping us to work out the best process for getting digital records into the archives," says Laurinda. "We are currently working with two Royal Commissions of Inquiry – the Pike River and the Canterbury Earthquake.
"Both these commissions are coming to the end of their life span and capturing these records at this stage works well for them as well as for the project."
Storing these records so they can be seen in the future already has its challenges. Records from the Pike River Commission for example, contained files that detailed gas measurements from the mine. With only one organisation having the software to open the files, taking screen shots were deemed as the best way to ensure the records were both preserved and accessible.
"In tandem with this we are developing a toolkit to assist agencies make decisions about how long records need to be kept," says Denise. "This will help them assess which records should be transferred to the archives and which they need to dispose of," says Denise.
"The digital environment is changing the way we do our business and long-term all the records we take in will be digital. Our focus is on supporting agencies to make the right decisions about digital records. Whether it is disposal or transfer to us, we want to ensure they are in a format where they can be kept and preserved over time.
"Preserving records and making them available to the public, whatever their format, remains our core business."
For more information contact:
The details of 19th century correspondence and intention to marry notices from 1856 to 1956 are some of the high use archives that will be available online from early next year as a result of Archives New Zealand’s new digitisation and listing project.
Project Manager Jeremy Cauchi says the project has two main aims – to improve customer access to the archives and to ensure the continued protection of fragile documents. Improving access to the documents is achieved by both listing them, recording information about them in greater detail, and also by digitisation.
"We have 1689 boxes of coroner inquest files that are not individually listed and about 7000 boxes of nineteenth century correspondence that need to be described," Jeremy says.
"Currently, for customers to identify what archives are of interest to them requires them either visiting one of our four archives and searching through indexes and registers, or paying for the enquiry to be made. Describing the individual items in each box makes them easier to discover, improves their control and security and saves staff and researchers time."
The intention to marry notices which are recorded in bound volumes are described by Jeremy as one of the most intensely used records.
"Less handling will ensure their ongoing protection," he says.
Also to be digitised are war grave card indexes from four naturalisation registers (highly valued by genealogists) and the registrars to the Māori Affairs and Marine Department correspondence that were destroyed in the 1907 Parliamentary Library fire.
"The actual correspondence was destroyed, but these registrars tell us what the correspondence was about and who it was from, making them valuable in their own right."
The knowledge of knowing what’s in each archival box has the additional benefit of improving business efficiency with staff having to spend less time searching for documents to fulfil customers’ requests.
Over the next two years a team of 12 data entry operators and two archivists will be on the job, with the list information they produced available online on Archway. Jeremy and his team will advise customers when to check Archway, Archives New Zealand’s online search tool to see what has been added. He expects this to be from February next year.
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Christchurch Regional Archivist Chris Adam and Auckland Regional Archivist Mark Stoddart will be representing Archives New Zealand at the 4th Southern Curator's Seminar for Museum Professionals Working in Smaller Museums, being held in Hokitika, 11-12 October.
This informal gathering is an invaluable way of networking with the region's small museums, most of which hold archives. For more information contact: Philip Howe firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Adam and Mark Stoddard will then represent Archives New Zealand, alongside other Department of Internal Affairs representatives at the Family History Expo in Christchurch on 13-14 October.
Further work on shelving at the Christchurch Regional Archive during October will make accessible all of the Christchurch holdings for the first time since the earthquake in February 2011. Please check the website for more information.
This theme for this year’s Archives and Records Association of New Zealand Conference is Inside and Outside the Box. The conference is being held in Wellington from 23-24 October.
A one-day course in the care and preservation of audiovisual collections is on offer from the National Preservation Office Te Tari Tohu Taonga.The course is an intermediate level course for people who work in libraries, archives, iwi and Māori organisations and are responsible for the care and management of audio and video collections.
Auckland on Friday 26 October 2012
Dunedin at the Hocken Library Uare Taoka o Hākena, Dunedin, on Tuesday 6 November.
The latest UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand newsletter is out now. Check in at www.unescomow.org.nz to find out more about the Memory of the World New Zealand Programme and how you can inscribe your documentary heritage on the New Zealand Memory of the World Register.