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National Library of New Zealand

The National Library of New Zealand (Māori: Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) is New Zealand's legal deposit library charged with the obligation to "enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations" (National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga) Act 2003). Under the Act, the library is also expected to be:

  • "collecting, preserving, and protecting documents, particularly those relating to New Zealand, and making them accessible for all the people of New Zealand, in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga; and
  • "supplementing and furthering the work of other libraries in New Zealand; and
  • "working collaboratively with other institutions having similar purposes, including those forming part of the international library community."
National Library of New Zealand
Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
NLNZ ext 5.jpg
LocationMolesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand
Coordinates41°16′36″S 174°46′42″E / 41.276614°S 174.778372°E / -41.276614; 174.778372
Branch ofDepartment of Internal Affairs
Size1,515,172 in General Collections
5,333,500 in Alexander Turnbull Library
Other information
BudgetNZ$31,850,000 (2006)
DirectorBill MacNaught (National Librarian)

The library supports schools through its Services to Schools business unit, which has curriculum and advisory branches around New Zealand. The Legal Deposit Office is New Zealand's agency for ISBN and ISSN.

The library headquarters is close to the Parliament of New Zealand and the Court of Appeal on the corner of Aitken and Molesworth Streets, Wellington.

On 25 March 2010 the Minister of State Services announced that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand would be merged into the Department of Internal Affairs.[1]



The lobby of the National Library

The National Library of New Zealand was formed in 1965 when the Alexander Turnbull Library, the General Assembly Library, and the National Library Service were brought together by the National Library Act (1965). In 1980, the Archive of New Zealand Music was established at the suggestion of New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn. In 1985, the General Assembly Library separated from the National Library and is now known as The Parliamentary Library. Staff and collections from 14 different sites around Wellington were centralised in a new National Library building, officially opened in August 1987. The architecture of the building is said to have been heavily influenced by design of the Boston City Hall.,[2] but direct reference to the Birmingham Central Library should not be ruled out.

In 1988, the National Library became an autonomous government department where previously it had been administered by the Department of Education. The same year, the Library took on the Maori name Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, which translated means: the wellspring of knowledge, of New Zealand.[3]

In early 1998 an ambitious $8.5 million computer project was scrapped.[4]

The National Library building was to be expanded and upgraded in 2009–2011,[5] but the incoming government greatly scaled down the scope of the work, reducing the budget for it and delaying the commencement, arguing concerns about the cost of the project and the reduction in the accessibility of collections and facilities during the construction work.[6] The building closed for two years, reopening in June 2012, while refurbishment continued.[7]

On 25 March 2010 the Minister of State Services announced that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand would be merged into the Department of Internal Affairs.[1]

He TohuEdit

The He Tohu exhibition in the Library is home to three nationally significant documents: Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi), He Whakaputanga (the Declaration of the Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) and the Women's Suffrage Petition (Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine). The documents were moved from Archives New Zealand on 22 April 2017 under tight security.[8]


Reading room at National Library, Wellington

The National Library's collections are stored in the main building in Wellington and several other cities in New Zealand. The library has three main groups: the General Collections, the Schools Collection, and the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library. Access to many collections is provided through digital products and online resources.

The General Collections focus on supporting the information needs of New Zealanders through services to individuals, schools and researchers, with notable collections such as the Dorothy Neal White Collection. The Schools Collection contains books and other material to support teaching and learning in New Zealand schools.

Alexander Turnbull LibraryEdit

The collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library are in the custody of the National Library[9] and are normally held in its Wellington building. It is named after Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull (1868–1918), whose bequest to the nation included the 55,000 volume nucleus of the current collection. It is charged under the Act to:

  • 'Preserve, protect, develop, and make accessible for all the people of New Zealand the collections of that library in perpetuity and in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga'; and
  • 'Develop the research collections and the services of the Alexander Turnbull Library, particularly in the fields of New Zealand and Pacific studies and rare books'; and
  • 'Develop and maintain a comprehensive collection of documents relating to New Zealand and the people of New Zealand.'[10]

Turnbull collected the works of John Milton extensively, and the library now has holdings of Milton's works which are "ranked among the finest in the world" and "good collections of seventeenth-century poetical miscellanies and of Dryden material, ... along with fine sets of literary periodicals."[11]

The Friends of the Turnbull Library (FoTL) is an incorporated society that supports the work of the Alexander Turnbull Library by organising events, activities and offering an annual research grant to a scholars using the library’s resources.  FoTL also funds the publication of the Turnbull Library Record which publishes information about the activities of the library and showcases the Library’s collections.  First published in 1940[12], digital issues of The Turnbull Library Record are available through Papers Past.

Turnbull Library CollectionsEdit

The library houses a number of specialty collections:

  • Archives of New Zealand Music
  • Cartographic Collection, Drawings
  • Paintings and Prints
  • Ephemera Collection
  • Manuscripts
  • National Newspaper Collection
  • New Zealand and Pacific Book Collection
  • Cartoon Archive
  • Music, Sounds and Audio-visual Collection
  • Serials Collection
  • New Zealand Web Archive
  • Oral History and Sounds
  • Photographic Archive
  • Rare Books and Fine Printing
  • General Collection of Books relating to New Zealand and the Pacific
  • Turnbull Named Collections.

Turnbull House, the library's former location in Bowen Street in downtown Wellington, is now managed by Heritage New Zealand.[13]

Services to SchoolsEdit

Books in the Schools Collection

Services to Schools is a business unit that supports New Zealand primary and secondary schools through its Curriculum Services and Advisory Services.[citation needed]

Curriculum Services lends items from its Schools Collection to enhance teaching and learning in New Zealand schools. The collection has a unique range of New Zealand and international curriculum resources including fiction and non-fiction books, videos, CDs and DVDs. Every teacher can access and borrow from the 600,000 items in the collection and it is used by 98% of New Zealand schools. Curriculum Services issues nearly 1.5 million resources each year.[citation needed]

Curriculum Services centres in Auckland and Christchurch provide distance services for teachers via free fax, phone, email, post and an online request form, and teachers can visit the centres to select resources. Staff assist and advise teachers on appropriate resources, and select and send items in response to teachers' topic requests.[citation needed]

Advisory Services supports school library development, offering free information and advice on school library management and providing professional development. Library advisors in 14 locations around New Zealand help and support schools in planning and development in these areas. Every New Zealand school can use the Advisory Service. The publication The School library and learning in the information landscape: guidelines for New Zealand schools provides guiding principles for school library development.[citation needed]

National Digital Heritage ArchiveEdit

Established in 2004, the National Digital Heritage Archive is a partnership between the National Library, Ex Libris and Sun Microsystems to develop a digital archive and preservation management system.[14] A digital storehouse, the system ensures that websites, digital images, CDs, DVDs and other 'digitally born' and digitised items that make up the Library's growing digital heritage collections will, despite technical obsolescence, be preserved and remain accessible to researchers, students and library users now and in the future.

Papers PastEdit

The Papers Past website, run by the National Library of New Zealand, provides free access to digitised newspapers, magazines, journals, letters, diaries, and parliamentary papers from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was launched in 2001.[15]


  1. ^ a b Beehive Press Release
  2. ^ Catherall, Sarah (22 August 2009). "National Library: Bookworm heaven vs wow factor". The Dominion Post. p. D2.
  3. ^ "Our history | About the Library | National Library of New Zealand". Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  4. ^ Gifford, Adam (19 January 1999). "Library systems miss out on NZ technology". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  5. ^ "$69m plan to extend National Library". Stuff. 26 May 2008.
  6. ^ "Concern over plans for National Library". The Dominion Post. 10 February 2009. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012.
  7. ^ Hunt, Tom (6 August 2012). "National Library re-opens to researchers". The Dominion Post. Fairfax NZ News. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Treaty of Waitangi moved to new Wellington home under cover of darkness". The Dominion Post. 22 April 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Turnbull, Alexander Horsburgh". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Edited by A.H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
  12. ^ Oliver, Fiona (4 September 2018). "The Turnbull Library Record: Past and Future". Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  13. ^ "Historic Wellington buildings transfer" (Press release). New Zealand Department of Conservation. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  14. ^ "National Digital Heritage Archive". National Library of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  15. ^ "About Papers Past". Papers Past. National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 9 July 2017.

External linksEdit