What is Preserving the Nation’s Memory?

Preserving the Nation’s Memory (PtNM) is a multi-year programme seeking to upgrade and expand the physical infrastructure, storage capacity, and digital support for Archives New Zealand and the National Library, with the possible inclusion of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

If funding is allocated in Budget 2020, the programme will result in a new home for Archives Wellington, a new Regional Shared Repository building in the Lower North Island and upgrades to the National Library building.

Why is PtNM necessary?

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga and the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa have been the official stewards or kaipupuri of our nation’s taonga and of Aotearoa’s record of government and documentary heritage since 1840.

Archives NZ and the National Library hold statutory responsibility to collect, preserve, protect and make accessible this documentary heritage for all New Zealanders, including whanau, hapu and iwi Māori.

This documentary heritage is integral to our country culturally, constitutionally, and economically. It helps to ensure government is held accountable and keeps our unique history alive so that we can pass on our culture, traditions, and heritage to future generations.

Archives NZ and the National Library are responsible for much of our nation’s documentary heritage, taonga and documentary history, with their collections valued at over $1.7 billion and growing. But over 60% of their buildings in the North Island are not fit-for-purpose.

The PtNM programme identifies and expands on the need for transformation so that Archives New Zealand and the National Library can effectively continue in their role as stewards of our nation’s taonga.

PtNM timeline

The PtNM programme is anticipated to take approximately six to seven years to complete.

Plans for a new Regional Shared Repository building in the Lower North Island have commenced this year and the Department are currently undertaking a site selection process for the purchase of land. Detailed designs for the new Archives Wellington facility have already begun.

A Controlled Atmosphere Room (cool store) at Auckland Archives for the transfer of collections from National Library off-site store is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

If funding is secured in Budget 2020, construction on the new Wellington facility is expected to begin in 2021. Construction of the new Regional Shared Repository and upgrades to the National Library are expected to begin in 2022.

The PtNM programme plans to have all new facilities fully operational by 2027.

Te Tiriti and Māori Partnerships

In line with the spirit of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the underlying guiding principal adopted by the Department (DIA) for the development and delivery of the He Tohu exhibition in 2017 was ‘partnership’. The Department took some bold steps into a largely unknown and untested space to do their best to ensure that partnership with iwi Māori was considered and invested in.

At Waitangi on 6 February 1840, just before each rangatira applied their tohu to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Captain William Hobson said the words, “He iwi tahi tātou”. Since 1840, the common interpretation of these words has been “We are one people”. This year, at the 180th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, in Waitangi, a correction to this interpretation was made and was offered to the Prime Minister Hon. Jacinda Ardern and her parliamentary colleagues by a prominent and respected Ngāti Hine elder, Te Waihoroi Shortland. The new and accurate interpretation is, “Together, we are a nation”.

The difference between the two interpretations may seem miniscule to some, but in fact, the new interpretation changes the way we should have developed and designed Aotearoa New Zealand under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and that was ‘together’. The new interpretation of Hobson’s words, provide a fresh invitation to the Crown to work together with iwi Maori to design and develop our shared nation under Te Tiriti o Waitangi going forward.

The PtNM programme provides a further opportunity for the Treaty relationship to be enacted, put to the test and celebrated.

Over the next seven years, through the PtNM programme there will be a number of significant opportunities for Archives New Zealand and the National Library to work together with iwi Māori on the development, design and delivery of a new documentary heritage hub. This will include more culturally relevant and effective systems and processes to support users who wish to engage with taonga within a matauranga Māori framework. The PtNM programme team, look forward to working together with iwi Māori on this important and exciting programme of work, which will transform the way, we as a nation, collect, preserve and make available our nations collective memories.

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