Public Records Act 2005 (PRA) and Local Government
Is my organisation covered by the Public Records Act (PRA) 2005?
What are my organisation's responsibilities under the PRA?
What does this mean for me?
The Public Records Act 2005 (PRA) replaces the document and archives provisions in the Local Government Act 1974. The PRA sets the framework for creating and managing information in government. Its purpose is to promote local government accountability through reliable recordkeeping, enhance public confidence in the integrity of local government records and protect New Zealand’s documentary heritage.
The PRA covers the wider state sector and also applies to all "local authorities". This includes all regional councils and territorial authorities, council-controlled organisations and trading organisations, and local government organisations.
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- To create and maintain records
Records are recorded information created or received by your organisation in the course of your work, such as emails, meeting minutes, policy briefings, case files, photographs or web pages. The PRA requires you to create and maintain full and accurate records of your activities. This includes activities undertaken on your behalf by independent contractors. These records must be maintained in a corporate system so they are reliable and accessible over time.
- To manage protected records in accordance with the PRA
Protected records are categories of local government records that the Chief Archivist has declared to be worthy of preservation as archives under the PRA and outlined in the List of Protected Records for Local Authorities and Explanatory Notes. Local authorities must ensure that the protected records they hold are:
- identified as protected records
- protected and preserved
- maintained in an accessible form
- disposed of legally.
- To dispose of local authority protected records only as authorised by the Chief Archivist or otherwise by law
The PRA introduces a managed system for disposal of records. In recordkeeping terms, dispose means 'decide what to do with' - for example a record could be transferred to Archives New Zealand or destroyed. Under the PRA, no-one may dispose of any local authority protected record without an authority from the Chief Archivist.
- To classify the access status of all local authority archives and provide access in accordance with the classifications
All local authority records no longer in current use, or which are 25 years or older, must be classified as either open access or restricted access. The PRA guarantees the public's right to free inspection of open access records.
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The Chief Archivist supports compliance with the PRA through the following means:
- Standards: The Chief Archivist can set mandatory standards. Your organisation has to comply with these standards.
- Inspection: The Chief Archivist can, after giving reasonable notice to a local authority, inspect the records or archives in their possession or control.
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The PRA means all staff have to:
- Create records
Make records by clearly documenting your activities, including making file notes of relevant conversations, making minutes of significant meetings and documenting your work. Make sure all records are filed in the corporate system rather than your personal system, and are clearly identified so others can find them.
- Maintain records
Handle records with care. Store records for future access. Do not alter, re-sort, or remove filed documents (including electronic ones), even if you are the person who filed them.
- Prevent illegal disposal
Do not destroy records, or remove them from your organisation's filing systems, without proper authority. Do not take records home or destroy them when you leave the organisation. Get help from your records manager or records staff before disposing of records.
For further information, see the following publications available in the Continuum Resource Kit
For advice or assistance please contact Archives New Zealand at email@example.com
Issued April 2007
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