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The disposal process is about deciding if, when and how you dispose of your records with authorisation from the Chief Archivist. Find out how your public office or local authority can run a disposal process in line with the Public Records Act. 

Under the Public Records Act 2005 (PRA), there are five ways you can dispose of records: 

  • destruction 

  • transfer (to Archives New Zealand or another public office) 

  • alteration 

  • sale 

  • discharge. 

Destruction and transfer to Archives New Zealand are the most common. 

Who this resource is for

This resource is for anyone who looks after records for: 

The disposal process is different for public offices and for local authorities. 

Disposal process for local authorities 

Under the PRA, the Chief Archivist has identified classes of local authority records as “protected records”. You must not dispose of protected records without prior approval from the Chief Archivist.

List of protected records for local authorities

Disposal guidance for local authorities 

You’ll find guidance on the disposal of both protected records and other local authority records in the ALGIM Information Management Toolkit. This has been developed by the Association of Local Government Management Information Management and endorsed by the Chief Archivist. 

ALGIM Information Management Toolkit 

Disposal process for public offices

To see if this resource applies to your organisation, check the list of Public offices subject to the PRA

You need authorisation to dispose of records

You must get authorisation from the Chief Archivist to dispose of public records.

This authorisation is called a disposal authority. Disposal authorities group your records into classes. They spell out for each class how long you’ll keep the records and how you’ll dispose of them.

There are three types of disposal authority:

  • General disposal authorities — for records common to most public offices

  • Sector disposal authorities — for records common to certain sectors

  • Disposal authorities for specific public offices — for records relating to your core business

General disposal authorities

General disposal authorities (GDAs) are ongoing authorisations that apply to all public offices. 

They cover classes of records that are: 

  • common to most public offices

  • facilitative or transitory.

For each class of record, the GDAs give: 

  • examples

  • the minimum retention period (time you need to keep these records for)

  • the disposal action (how you dispose of these records).

Learn more about general disposal authorities

Disposal process using general disposal authorities 

You can use GDAs to dispose of records at any time. 

To do this you must first assess your records to decide if they match the classes in the GDA. If you’re in doubt, contact You can now dispose of the records as instructed in the GDA. You don’t need any further authorisation. Here is guidance on the most common disposal actions:

Download the general disposal authorities

Common corporate service public records — GDA 6

Facilitative, transitory, and/or short-term value records — GDA 7

Sector disposal authorities 

Some sectors have their own disposal authorities: 

  • District Health Boards

  • Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics

  • Universities

  • Schools 

  • Intelligence sector 

Disposal authorities for your specific public office

You need a disposal authority that is specific to your public office to dispose of records that aren’t covered by a GDA or sector disposal authority. 

These authorities are for records created or received as part of your organisation’s core business.

How to get a specific disposal authority for your public office

Make sure you’ve got management support so you know you have the ongoing resourcing you need. It can be a lengthy process involving staff from all parts of your organisation.

1. Contact us 

Contact before you start. We'll give you the guidance and templates you need. 

2. Appraise and document how you intend to dispose of your records

To get authorisation to dispose of records specific to your public office, you first need to know what these are. This process of identifying and evaluating your core business functions and records is called appraisal. 

You will then need to document the decisions you make about if, when and how you plan to dispose of your records, in consultation with internal, external and Māori stakeholders. To do this you’ll need to produce two documents so that the Chief Archivist can decide whether to authorise your disposal.

These are the: 

  • Appraisal report

  • Disposal schedule

Appraisal report 

 The appraisal report will detail: 

  • what records your organisation needs to create

  • what records are high-risk, high-value, or both

  • how long you need to keep records

  • how you’ll dispose of records.

Disposal schedule

The disposal schedule will detail: 

  • the classes of your records 

  • how long you’ll keep each class of records (minimum retention periods and the event that will trigger the start of the retention period) 

  • how you’ll dispose of each class of records (for example, destruction or transfer to Archives New Zealand). 

We'll give you templates for these documents. 

Appraisal process 

3. Submit your appraisal report and disposal schedule for review 

This is a collaborative process. We will review your documents, suggesting any changes needed to ensure decisions are consistent, logical and justified. Once you’ve made these changes, we’ll give further feedback if needed.

4. Get any public feedback — intentions to dispose 

Once you’ve made all the changes from the review, the public will be notified of the intention to dispose of records. We’ll post your appraisal report and disposal schedule on our website for public comment. After 30 days, we will analyse any feedback. Based on this analysis, we may recommend changes to your appraisal report and the disposal schedule.

Intentions to dispose

5. We issue you with your disposal authority 

The Chief Archivist now approves the final appraisal report and disposal schedule. These become your disposal authority and are published online. 

6. Dispose of your records — sentencing 

You now dispose of the records in line with your disposal schedule. This is called Sentencing. Here’s the Sentencing guide