NZLLA response to Archives New Zealand’s closure of Te Maeatanga Digitisation Programme

20 May 2024

15 May 2024

Tēnā koutou

NZLLA response to Archives New Zealand’s closure of Te Maeatanga Digitisation Programme

Thank you for the opportunity to submit a response regarding Archives New Zealand’s closure of Te Maeatanga Digitisation Programme.

The New Zealand Law Librarians’ Association (NZLLA) is a professional association representing law librarians and legal information professionals in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our members are daily users of government material and public records. As an association, we support greater access to materials created digitally and to those digitised after its initial creation.

We were deeply saddened to read of the decision to close Te Maeatanga Digitisation Programme, including the Digitisation on Demand service. We support Archives New Zealand’s legislated role to provide access to full and accurate records of government and to preservation of records for the benefit of all New Zealanders. However, the end of Te Maeatanga Digitisation Programme impinges on Archives New Zealand's on-going ability in the 21st Century to fulfil this purpose.

We believe this is a backward step and will be detrimental to the preservation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural heritage and history.

We oppose this decision and raise the following points:

1. Archives 2057 Strategy. The closure of Te Maeatanga runs directly in opposition to this strategy, which highlights the importance of digitisation for New Zealand’s future, accountability of government, and access to public records.

2. Accessibility of archival materials. It is crucial that archived materials are made available to all users, regardless of their location, within New Zealand or overseas, and regardless of any disability accessibility requirements.

3. Preservation of unique historical taonga. Undigitised materials are at risk of deterioration and loss due to natural disasters or loss of storage space. Materials held in formats at risk of becoming obsolete and/or irretrievable if not digitised.

4. Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique history. Over two million images have been digitised by the Te Maeatanga Digitisation Programme. The digitisation work over the past decades, in conjunction with Family Search, has been hugely significant. More work needs to be done.

We urge the Department of Internal Affairs to reinstate the programme, fully fund it and aim for the complete digitisation of Archives New Zealand’s holdings, both current and future physical transfers. The project only ends when there is nothing left to digitise, and all accessions are of solely electronic material (digital transfer).

While this ambitious goal would significantly reduce user access via the Archives New Zealand Reading Rooms, users would still visit. Any user-archivist interaction would result in the archivists leveraging their unique understanding of the collections to significantly assist users in their research.

Ngā mihi

Erin Cairney
New Zealand Law Librarians’ Association


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