The Public Records Act 2005 (PRA) establishes a regulatory framework for information and records management across the public sector. The purpose of the PRA is to promote the accountability of government through reliable information management, enhanced public confidence in the integrity of government information and records, and the protection of New Zealand’s documentary heritage.
The PRA sets out obligations for regulated organisations in how information and records are created, maintained, transferred and disposed of. The PRA also covers access to information and records.
Responsibilities of regulated organisations are to:
create and maintain information and records;
dispose of information and records, as authorised by the Chief Archivist or otherwise by law;
transfer information and records of archival value to Archives New Zealand;
classify the access status of all information and records; and
provide access to open access records as soon as practicable.
The Information and records management standard establishes how to manage information and records systematically. It sets out the minimum level of compliance that regulated organisations must meet. Compliance with the standard is mandatory.
The Implementation guide will help you to understand how to achieve minimum compliance with the Standard.
Who is covered by the PRA?
Public offices and local authorities, as defined in section 4 (Interpretation) of the PRA are covered. Collectively, these are known as ‘regulated organisations’.
Public offices include:
Crown research institutes,
district health boards,
tertiary institutions, and
state and integrated schools.
The definition of public office is broad. Check with us to clarify your organisation's status.
Local authorities include:
all regional councils and territorial authorities,
local government organisations, and
council-controlled trading organisations.
What are public, local authority and protected records?
records or a class of records, created or received by a public office as it carries out its functions.
Local authority records:
records or a class of records, created or received by a local authority as it carries out its functions.
records created by local authorities that have been declared under section 40 of the PRA to be protected for the purposes of the Act. Protected records must not be disposed of without the prior approval of the Chief Archivist, or without notifying the Chief Archivist that you intend to dispose of these records. You must identify the protected records and specify how they will be disposed of.
The List of protected records for local authorities specifies classes of local authority records that may not be destroyed unless prior approval is given by the Chief Archivist.
Creating and maintaining records
Regulated organisations must create and maintain full and accurate records of their affairs, in line with normal business practice.
Records must be maintained in an accessible form until their disposal is authorised by the Chief Archivist.
Disposing of records
Information and records disposal refers to the range of processes associated with implementing retention, transfer or destruction decisions.
No one can dispose of, or authorise the disposal of, public or protected records unless they have the authority of the Chief Archivist, or where disposal is required by or under another Act.
Public offices must transfer from their possession and control public records that have been in existence for 25 years.
Exceptions occur if:
the records are to be destroyed,
transferred before the expiry of 25 years, or
transfer has been deferred.
During administrative change, organisations often take over functions from another organisation. where this is the case, your organisation must give notice to the Chief Archivist of the transfer of associated records within 3 months of the transfer.
All public records that have been in existence for 25 years, or are about to be transferred to Archives New Zealand, must be have their access status determined as either open or restricted.
Similarly, when local authority records become local authority archives, these classifications must be applied.
You can read more about determining access status in our Access guide.
Providing access to records
Unless the PRA states otherwise, an open access record must be made available to members of the public. This must be free-of-charge and happen as soon as practicable after the request is received.
This applies to requests made to:
public offices, including Archives New Zealand
local authorities, and
Last updated on 06 May 2021