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Under the Public Records Act 2005 one of the Chief Archivist’s core responsibilities is to make independent decisions on the disposal of public records and certain local authority archives. “Disposal” in this sense is a general term covering actions that include transferring the records to Archives NZ, destroying records that don’t have enduring value, or transferring them to another authorised organisation.

Under Section 18 of the Public Records Act, all public records must be evaluated, in a process called ‘appraisal’ before they can be disposed of. No public or protected records can be legally disposed of without the permission of the Chief Archivist. This permission is granted in the form of a ‘disposal authority’, which details:

  • What action is to occur (destruction, transfer etc.)
  • When this action is to occur (now, or no earlier or later than a particular date)
  • Which particular records the Authority applies to

Every Disposal Authority is supported by an evaluation of the records it covers. This is usually contained in a formal Appraisal Report, which is also contained in Archway as an attachment to the authority.

These authorities can be either specific to a public office or general to a class of records common across public offices (known as a general disposal authority).

Note that only current (as at August 2006) Disposal Authorities and their associated Appraisal Reports and Disposal Schedules were captured into Archway. Disposal Authorities may be in force (current) for various periods from 6 months to 10 years, after which they are no longer current (expired). Disposal Authorities may also be cancelled (revoked) or superseded by a new Authority (replaced).

A General Disposal Authority (GDA) provides a continuing authority for the disposal of records which are common across public offices (as defined under the Public Records Act 2005).

  • If a public office has an agency-specific existing disposal authority relating to the same records covered by any of the GDAs, then the existing disposal authority should be considered the legal authority.
  • If a public office has no existing agency-specific existing disposal authority relating to such records, then the GDA should be considered the legal authority.
  • If a public office signed up to a GDA under the former Archives Act 1957, then the GDA remains the authority.
Further Information

For more information on:

  • the process of appraisal, and for tools to help appraisers
  • disposal authorities and general disposal authorities

See our Continuum web site.

To view disposal recommendations that are available for public comment, or to comment on disposal recommendations, see our Archives web site.

If your public office is not covered by a disposal authority when it should be, please contact

If you have any questions about implementing or using an existing disposal authority, please contact