We're looking for feedback about our website

Help us improve your experience by taking this short survey

Skip to main content
To top Back to top back to top

What is Tāhuhu: Preserving the Nation’s Memory?

Tāhuhu: Preserving the Nation’s Memory (Tāhuhu) 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 and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

Budget 2020 will fund a new home for Archives Wellington, land purchase and design for a new Regional Shared Repository in the lower North Island, and the detailed design for National Library alterations to enable greater collaboration across the three heritage organisations and to permanently accommodate Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

Why is Tāhuhu 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 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 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.

Tāhuhu 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.

Tāhuhu timeline

Tāhuhu is anticipated to take approximately six to seven years to complete.

The design for a new Regional Shared Repository building in the Lower North Island has commenced this year and the Department is 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 the National Library's off-site store is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

If further investment is secured through Budget 2022 construction of the new Regional Shared Repository and upgrades to the National Library are expected to begin in late 2022.

Construction on the new Archives Wellington facility is expected to begin in 2021.

Tāhuhu plans to have all new facilities fully operational by 2027.


Heke Rua Archives

This project is responsible for a new purpose-built Archives facility in Wellington that reimagines the way that people interact with our collections and with each other. It will have physical connectivity by means of an air bridge with the National Library's Molesworth Street facility. This project is core to creating a new documentary heritage campus. The design will incorporate the need for storage, specialist facilities, office accommodation, and new collaborative ways of working. Targeted completion is 2024.

Heke Puna Library

This project is responsible for alterations to the current National Library facility in Molesworth Street. It includes changes to enable co-location and closer continued collaboration of National Library, Archives New Zealand and Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision across both buildings in the new documentary heritage campus. It also includes the completion of outstanding refurbishment work and alterations to permanently accommodate Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

Regional Shared Repository

This project aims to develop a fit-for-purpose and resilient facility outside of Wellington Central for Archives, the National Library and Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision. This involves the staged delivery of design, build, fit-out and the transfer of collections. The new facility is expected to accommodate capacity growth in physical records up to 2030 and beyond. This building will store low-use and digitised documentary and audiovisual heritage and taonga. The scope may look at the possible inclusion of other heritage sector institutions (e.g. Te Papa).

Wairere House Exit

This project is focussed on exit activities (National Library collections removed and relocated) from Wairere House in Whanganui; this current storage facility has been determined no longer fit-for-purpose. The heritage collections held here (consisting of newspapers, microfilms, photograph collections, are being relocated to National Library's Wellington repository and to Auckland Archives). The project is also tasked with the building of a new cool room (Controlled Atmosphere Room) at the Auckland Archives Regional Repository for the rehousing of these collections.

Archival Integrated Management System

This online project will deliver an Archival Integrated Management System (AIMS) that will replace the existing Archives New Zealand core systems for the future management and maintenance of our government archive. The AIMS project will enable information currently stored in five outdated databases and locations to combine into a single new in-depth access software.

Change Management/Te Puna Rua Collaboration

The change management work will identify and execute operational changes to enable a collaborative approach between Archives, the National Library, Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision at the new heritage campus. Tāhuhu provides a platform for collaboration and partnership with other institutions within the wider heritage sector (e.g. Te Papa).

Kia Rite

This workstream focusses on business readiness. Logistics work is being undertaken to prepare the holdings and collections associated with their relocation into the new purpose-built facilities, Heke Rua Archives and the RSR. This involves labelling, reboxing where required, reshelving and ensuring the accuracy of the information held in the Archives collections and National Library.

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.

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

Over the next seven years, through Tāhuhu, 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 Tāhuhu 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.

Frequently asked questions

Proactive release of official information

The Department of Internal Affairs have proactively released Cabinet material regarding Tāhuhu (9.5MB, PDF).

Media releases