Access to public archives and local authority archives is governed by the Public Records Act 2005. Archives New Zealand provides access under the terms of the Archives New Zealand best practice standard 2006. The principles of this standard are:
Access to open access records should be provided equitably, without obstruction and without fees or charges for basic access services.
Access should be a partnership between access providers and all users of the records, and access providers should develop effective partnerships with Māori.
Various channels for providing access to records should be provided in order to open records to a range of users.
Documentation describing records should be produced in a timely manner and made widely available. Access providers should actively promote use of records.
The physical and technical environment for access should be appropriate to the nature of the records and the number and needs of users.
Access should be provided efficiently and meet specified standards for quality of service.
Services should be available for copying of records, in accordance with legal obligations and conditions of access.
Procedures and physical measures should protect records from unauthorised access, destruction, alteration and removal.
The access provider should clearly distinguish, for users, which records are open access and which are restricted access. Users should be informed of processes for access to restricted access records.