We work to ensure effective, trusted government information for the benefit of all New Zealanders. We preserve and protect more than seven million official records, from 19th century treaties to 21st century documents and data. Our goal is for all New Zealanders to easily access and use this taonga, connecting you to your rights and entitlements and stories – now and for the future.
Archives New Zealand administers the Public Records Act 2005 (PRA), which establishes the regulatory framework for information and records management across the public sector.
Under the PRA, our role is to:
Enable the government to be held accountable by ensuring that full and accurate records of central and local government are created and maintained
Preserve and manage, and provide access to, records of long-term value
Enhance public confidence in the integrity of public and local authority records
In fulfilling these responsibilities, we ensure that New Zealanders have access to New Zealand's public archives so that they may better understand their heritage and democracy.
View our annual reports on the Department of Internal Affairs website
What's an archive?
Archives are contemporary records created by individuals and organisations that are kept for their long-term value. These records are a witness to the past. They provide evidence, explanation and justification for past actions and current decisions. They support society to undertake a wide range of roles that enable civilised communities to take root and flourish, from education and research, entertainment and leisure, to protecting human rights and confirming identity.
Unlike library collections, archives are unique. Once lost, they can’t be replaced. It's only through proper identification, care and wide access that the vital role that archives have can be fully realised to the benefit of society.
Archives can come in a wide range of formats, from written documents to photographs, moving image and sound, both digitally and analogue.
Archives New Zealand manages public archives. These are the records of the New Zealand Government that have been regarded as having long-term value.
The Chief Archivist
The Chief Archivist is a statutory role under the PRA. The Chief Archivist has the power to set standards and direct the actions of public agency chief executives in respect of records and information management. The Chief Archivist also reports to Parliament on the quality of information management and compliance with the PRA across the state sector. The Chief Archivist is duty bound to act independently in relation to the disposal of public records. This statutorily independent role is needed to assure the integrity of the record of government.
The Chief Archivist is also the General Manager of Archives New Zealand.
Born in Scotland, Stephen Clarke is a former engineer who took up a career in archives and records management in the 1990s.
After graduating with a degree in history and social anthropology and gaining professional experience in local authority archives and university libraries, Stephen undertook the Archives Administration and Records Management post-graduate professional qualification in the UK, specialising in medieval charters.
In 2006 Stephen moved to New Zealand, leaving the National Museum of Wales to join Archives New Zealand, and beginning his career in the New Zealand public service. Stephen brings twenty years’ experience leading teams to deliver digital services in the public sector, in agencies including the Office of the Auditor General, Inland Revenue, the Department of Internal Affairs, Office of the Ombudsman, Te Puni Kōkiri and Transpower. His most recent role has been as the Chief Data Officer for Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency.
Internationally, Stephen is known as a thought-leader and standards expert having developed standards for records management, digitization of records, and the International Council on Archives: Principles and functional requirements for records in electronic office environments standard. As a former anthropologist and a technical practitioner, Stephen understands that successful societal outcomes come from bringing cultural and technical together to create human-centred services that work for people, delivered by technology.
When not at work, Stephen likes to spend time with his two daughters, reading sci-fi and philosophy, watching Scottish football and collecting 1970/80s punk records.
Previous Chief Archivists
1957-62: Secretary of Internal Affairs exercised Chief Archivist powers
1962: Michael Standish
1963-72: John Pascoe
1972-82: Judith S. Hornabrook
1982-91: Ray Grover
1991-98: Kathryn Patterson
1998-2000: Chris Hurley (Acting Chief Archivist)
2000-01: Lyn Provost (Acting Chief Archivist)
2001-09: Dianne Macaskill
2009-11: Greg Goulding (Acting Chief Archivist)
2011-14: Greg Goulding (Chief Archivist and General Manager Archives New Zealand)
2014-17: Marilyn Little (Chief Archivist and General Manager Archives New Zealand)
2017–2018: Richard Foy (Acting Chief Archivist and General Manager Archives New Zealand)
2018–2020: Richard Foy (Chief Archivist and General Manager Archives New Zealand)
The Minister responsible for Archives New Zealand is the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Jan Tinetti
The Archives Council
The Archives Council Te Rua Wānanga is an unincorporated body established under the PRA. They provide independent advice to the Minister responsible for Archives New Zealand on recordkeeping and archives matters, including those for which tikanga Māori is relevant.
Council members are appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Minister for Māori Development and the Chief Archivist. The Department of Internal Affairs runs the appointment process.
The Council reports directly to the Minister on its functions during the preceding year. The Minister, as soon as practicable, presents the report to the House of Representatives.
The Archives Council is not defined as a public office for the purposes of the Public Records Act 2005. The Archives Council is also not subject to the Public Finance Act 1989, the Ombudsmen Act 1975, and the Official Information Act 1982.
Current members are:
Liz Sinclair (Chair)
Peter Adds (Deputy Chair)
Read the Archives Council Charter (PDF 182 KB)
For earlier Archives Council reports please contact us.
Te Pae Whakawairua
Te Pae Whakawairua is the Chief Archivist’s appointed Māori consultative group. Te Pae Whakawairua’s focus is on the medium to long-term direction of Archives New Zealand. The group assists the Chief Archivist by providing independent advice and perspective. They provide feedback on:
The aspirations of Māori, and how Archives can contribute to achieving these within its frameworks.
The provision of services that are relevant and appropriate to Māori.
Communication to Māori about Archives’ services.
Matters of concern or other issues.