Archives New Zealand

Archives New Zealand (Māori: Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga) is New Zealand's national archive and the official guardian of its public archives. As the government's recordkeeping authority, it administers the Public Records Act 2005 and promotes good information management throughout government.

Archives New Zealand
Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Archives New Zealand logo.svg
Agency overview
JurisdictionNew Zealand government recordkeeping and community archives
HeadquartersMulgrave Street, Thorndon, Wellington
Coordinates: 41°16′38″S 174°46′48″E / 41.277167°S 174.78°E / -41.277167; 174.78
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Stephen Clarke, Chief Archivist Kaipupuri Matua
Parent agencyDepartment of Internal Affairs


On 29 July 1952, fire ripped through the Hope Gibbons Building in Wellington, destroying boxes and boxes of New Zealand's public records.[1]


In 1954, the First National Government's cabinet approved the establishment of a national archive and the office of a chief archivist, and the drafting of enabling legislation. The Archives Act 1957 established the National Archives within the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). It also gave the chief archivist the power to approve the disposal of official records and to require the transfer of records to the National Archives after 25 years. The Archives Act also affirmed public access to the National Archives. While the National Archives were established in 1957, they were preceded by the Dominion Archives and the former war archives at the Hope Gibbons building in Wellington.[2]

Expansion and legislative entrenchmentEdit

In 1977, an amendment to the Local Government Act 1974 extended limited protection to local government archives. For the first twenty years, the National Archives had to contend with inadequate storage and staffing. Following Wilfred I. Smith's report,[3] the Government took steps to address those issues, the headquarters moving into the 1966 4-storey[4] building of the former Government Printing Office on Thorndon Quay[5] in 1990.[6] The National Archives' legal position was further entrenched by the passage of legislation such as the Ombudsmen Act 1975, the Official Information Act 1982, and the State Sector Act 1988.

In 2000, the National Archives was separated from the Department of Internal Affairs and renamed as Archives New Zealand.[2]

In 2005, the Fifth Labour Government passed the Public Records Act 2005[7] to deal with digital archives and the creation of state-owned enterprises. The Act also greatly expanded the role of Archives New Zealand and the powers of the Chief Archivist, and established the Archives Council to advise the Minister responsible for Archives New Zealand. The organisation now has a leadership role for recordkeeping throughout central and local government.[2][8]

Reintegration under Internal Affairs, 2011–presentEdit

In 2011, Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand were merged back into the Department of Internal Affairs.[2][9] Before 1 February 2011 Archives New Zealand was a separate government department.[9]

In 2018, the Christchurch office moved to a new location in Wigram near the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.[10][11]

The New Zealand Archivist Vol 3 No 1 pages 5–10 includes a more comprehensive history of archives in New Zealand.[12]

In December 2020, the DIA confirmed that Archives NZ along with the National Library and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision would move to a proposed purpose-built business park called the Horowhenua Business Park in Levin at an unspecified future date.[13]


The national office for Archives New Zealand is in Wellington. It also has offices in Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin.[14][2]

List of Chief Archivists / Kaipupuri MatuaEdit


  • Secretary of Internal Affairs exercised Chief Archivist powers (1957–1962)
  • Michael Standish (1962)[16]
  • John Pascoe (1963–1972)[17]
  • Judith S. Hornabrook (1972–1982)[18][19]
  • Ray F. Grover (1981–1991)[20]
  • Kathryn Patterson (1991–1998)[21]
  • Chris Hurley (Acting) (1998–2000)
  • Lyn Provost (Acting) (2000–2001)[22]
  • Dianne Macaskill (2001–2009)[22][23][24]
  • Greg Goulding (Acting) (2009–2011)
  • Greg Goulding (2011–2014)[25]
  • Marilyn Little (2014–2017)[26]
  • Richard Foy (Acting) (2017–2018)[27]
  • Richard Foy (2018–2020)[27]
  • Stephen Clarke (2020–present)[27]

The position of Director of National Archives and Chief Archivist were held simultaneously since late 1982.[21]


Archives New Zealand has four units:[28]

  • Regional & Access Services;
  • Archives Management;
  • Government Recordkeeping; and
  • Māori & Community Archives.


Archives New Zealand:

  • manages the Public Records Act 2005 and works with government agencies to administer the Act;
  • makes sure records of government decision making are created and those of long-term value, including digital, are transferred into its care;
  • provides recordkeeping advice and information to government agencies;
  • makes public archives accessible to government departments, other organisations and the public;
  • manages the public archives in a protected and secure environment; and
  • provides leadership and support for archival activities across New Zealand.[28]

Archives Council Te Rua WānangaEdit

The Archives Council Te Rua Wānanga is an unincorporated body established under the Public Records Act 2005.[7] It provides independent advice to the Minister responsible for Archives New Zealand on recordkeeping and archives matters, including those for which tikanga Māori is relevant.

The Archives Council meets four times a year to discuss archival and record keeping matters. The Council reports directly to the Minister on its functions during the preceding year. The Minister, as soon as practicable, presents the report to the House of Representatives.[29]

The Archives Council's reports to the Minister are available on Archives New Zealand's website.[30][31]


Archives New Zealand holds more than 7 million[32] New Zealand government records dating from the early 19th to the early 21st century. Records held include the originals of the Treaty of Waitangi, government documents, maps, paintings, photographs and film.

Significant holdings include:

Finding records heldEdit

Researchers can search descriptions of the records using Archway, an online database of records held at Archives New Zealand.

Physical records accessEdit

Access to holdings is available through four reading rooms in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and through a remote reference service.[34] 110,205 linear metres of physical archives were held in storage as at June 2018.[35]

Digitised recordsEdit

Digitised records are available through Archway. Digital records are also available via DigitalNZ. A selection of records are also available on Archives New Zealand's social media channels, including YouTube and Flickr.

Examples of digitised records available:

  • New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Personnel Files from the First World War – over 141,000 service files digitised.[36]
  • New Zealand Official War Art Collection.[37]
  • DigitalNZ filter for Archives New Zealand's records.

For a details of what is digitised by topic see Archives New Zealand's website.[38]


He Tohu exhibitionEdit

He Tohu Document Room

In May 2017, a new permanent archive exhibition He Tohu, opened at the National Library of New Zealand building on Molesworth Street, Wellington.[39]

He Tohu is an exhibition of three of New Zealand's most significant constitutional documents:[40]

The development of the exhibition began in 2014.[41] It provides an award-winning document room[42] containing the latest exhibition technology and a surrounding interactive space for visitors to learn about the documents and the people who signed them. He Tohu is accompanied by an education and outreach programme including an online component to make it accessible for those not Wellington-based.[43] He Tohu is presented by Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand, both of which are part of the Department of Internal Affairs. The documents remain in the care of the Chief Archivist under the Public Records Act 2005.[44][41]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Wellington's Hope Gibbons fire destroys national archives – 150 years of news". Stuff. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Strachan, Stuart. "Page 1: Government Archives". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  3. ^ Smith, Wilfred I. (1978). Archives in New Zealand: a report. Wellington, New Zealand: Archives and Records Association of New Zealand.
  4. ^ "NEW GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE. PRESS". 23 October 1961. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  5. ^ "PRINTERS WALK OUT. PRESS". 29 September 1966. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  6. ^ "New Zealand. Government Printing Office". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Public Records Act 2005". Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Public Records Act 2005". Archives New Zealand. Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  9. ^ a b Guy, Nathan. "Minister welcomes State Sector legislation (press release)". New Zealand Government. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Important message for all Christchurch Office of Archives New Zealand customers". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Christchurch Office of Archives New Zealand". Flickr. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  12. ^ a b Cheryl Campbell; Rosemary Collier; Mary Donald; Caroline Etherington; Judith Homabrook; Margaret Retter; David Retter; Frank Rogers; Mark Stevens (March 1992). "A Chronology of Archives Keeping in New Zealand to 1990" (PDF). New Zealand Archivist. III (1): 5–10. ISSN 0114-7676.
  13. ^ Baalbergen, Janine (11 December 2020). "National Library and other government services to move to Horowhenua". Horowhenua Chronicle. The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  14. ^ "Address and Contact Details of Archives New Zealand National and Regional Offices". Archives New Zealand. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Timeline". Archives New Zealand. Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga. Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  16. ^ Hornabrook, Judith (September 1992). "Michael Wordsworth Standish – Chief Archivist 1962" (PDF). New Zealand Archivist. New Zealand Society of Archivists Incorporated. III (3): 4. ISSN 0114-7676.
  17. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Pascoe, John Dobrée". Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  18. ^ "A New Chief Archivist for Papua New Guinea" (PDF). Artifacts. New series. Archives and Records Association of New Zealand Inc. (24): 659. December 1982.
  19. ^ Evealyn, Wareham (2011). "Vale Judith Hornabrook" (PDF). PARBICA Panorama. 2011/3: 15.
  20. ^ Richard, Foy (24 January 2019). "A special Alert to honour Ray Grover, 1931–2019" (PDF). Aranz Alert. Archives & Records Association of New Zealand (30): 1–2. ISSN 2230-4754.
  21. ^ a b "A New Director for National Archives" (PDF). New Zealand Archivist. II (4): 5. December 1991. ISSN 0114-7676.
  22. ^ a b "Chief Executive Appointment: Archives New Zealand" (Press release). State Services Commission. 11 April 2001. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2019 – via Scoop News.
  23. ^ "Three new appointments to the Independent Police Conduct Authority". The Beehive. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  24. ^ " – Launch of the National Register of Archives and Manuscripts and Formal Farewell to Dianne Macaskill, Chief Executive Archives NZ". 4 June 2009. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  25. ^ "Minister welcomes new National Librarian and Chief Archivist". The Beehive. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Archives New Zealand appoints new leader". 10 February 2014. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  27. ^ a b c "New chief archivist appointed for Archives New Zealand". Scoop. Archived from the original on 14 October 2020. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  28. ^ a b "About Internal Affairs – Department structure – Business units –". Retrieved 12 July 2019.   Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  29. ^ "About Internal Affairs – Department structure – Archives New Zealand –". Retrieved 13 July 2019.   Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  30. ^ "The Archives Council | About us". Archives New Zealand. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  31. ^ "The Archives Council | Annual reports from 2008 to 2015". Archives New Zealand. 28 September 2018. Archived from the original on 28 September 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  32. ^ "Archives New Zealand | What we have". Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  33. ^ "What We Have". Archives New Zealand. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Archives New Zealand". Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  35. ^ 2017–18 Annual Report (PDF). Department of Internal Affairs. 2018. p. 146. ISSN 1173-9371.
  36. ^ "Archives New Zealand and National Library open the files on the First World War | WW100 New Zealand". Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  37. ^ "War Art". Archives New Zealand. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  38. ^ "What's been digitised". Archives New Zealand. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  39. ^ "New home for NZ's most important documents opens". RNZ. 19 May 2017. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  40. ^ Knight, Kim (19 May 2017). "He Tohu: A new home for New Zealand's iconic documents". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  41. ^ a b "Archive Exhibition Project –". Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  42. ^ "Supreme timber award won by Wellington's 'womb-like' He Tohu Document Centre". Stuff. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  43. ^ New Zealand Ministry of Education (3 June 2017). "He Tohu exhibition created with young people in mind". Education Gazette. Archived from the original on 27 January 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  44. ^ "About the He Tohu exhibition". Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.

External linksEdit