Managing text messages under the Public Records Act 2005: A review by the Chief Archivist

The Public Records Act 2005 (the Act) provides the framework for managing public records to ensure that full and accurate records are created, maintained and appropriately disposed of based on determining whether a record has long term value.

While the Chief Archivist does not have powers of investigation such as those held by the Auditor-General or the Ombudsman, one of the Chief Archivist’s functions under the Act is to monitor and report on the compliance of public offices with the Act (section 11(1)(b)(vi)).

In December 2014, the Chief Archivist decided to undertake a review of the adequacy of the recordkeeping systems and processes in place to support the Prime Minister (and other Ministers) in regard to text messages which may/may not be considered public records. In September 2015, the review concluded and a full copy of the final report is available below. Also available below are the following:

  • Advice for all Ministers of the Crown on their core public recordkeeping responsibilities under the Act, and
  • A quick guide for Ministers on managing text messages appropriately.

Archives New Zealand has also developed some generic advice on the management of text messages for all public offices and local authorities which is available on the Records Toolkit.

Also available is some background information relevant to the review including the Terms of Reference, an earlier 2006 review of Archives’ systems and processes for managing Ministers’ papers, and specific recordkeeping advice for ministerial and parliamentary staff produced by Archives New Zealand.

For any recordkeeping questions, please contact

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Media releases
Policy and consultation papers
Government record keeping