Archives New Zealand's newsletter Nga Tapuwae is now available on the website http://archives.govt.nz/about/publications-media/nga-tapuwae-march-2010
A brand new information space at Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office gives first-time researchers and other visitors an insight into the nation’s heritage.
Archives New Zealand’s acting chief executive Greg Goulding says the ground floor public area has been redeveloped to improve customer service. “The Gateway information space is the first port of call for all who enter the Wellington building in search of details about New Zealand heritage,” he said.
Situated in the ground floor public area, the revamped reading room gives researchers a dedicated space where they can carry out their work. They can take a break from their research in the new readers lounge. There is also an audio-visual area where people can view stories from the past through the National Film Collection and a purpose-built register room for historic documents from Land Information New Zealand.
“People coming into Archives New Zealand are often looking for probates, wills or war records of family members – or they are researching some part of our country’s history,” Mr Goulding said.
“Our holdings date back to the 1800s and include thousands of documents, photos, maps and audio-visual material. They help people find out more about how we were founded as a nation; and how we have matured as a country.”
These extensive holdings include shipping lists from 1860 to 1970s, Land Information New Zealand maps and registers, New Zealand Defence personnel files from World War One, Māori Land Court minute books, Blue Books of New Zealand Statistics, National Film Unit collection, National Collection of War Art and much more.
Collections from the National Library of New Zealand are being housed in the Archives’ Wellington office while the library undergoes redevelopment. These include Alexander Turnbull Library manuscripts, rare books, oral histories and photographs and the National Library’s research collection of pre-1940 children’s books.
The Gateway and revamped ground floor customer area was officially opened on 24 March by the Minister Responsible for Archives New Zealand Hon Nathan Guy.
Visiting Archives New Zealand is “hands-on history” for students from Wairarapa College, says their history teacher Helen Sproat.
Mrs Sproat and 25 of her year 12 history students researched World War One personnel records at Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office, today, as part of an internal assessment for their NCEA.
Each student was studying a soldier who died during the war. All of the soldiers were from the Wairarapa and their names are on the Masterton cenotaph.
The students looked at details such as what the soldiers did before enlisting, what bigger campaigns they took part in, and what happened to them during the war and how they died.
Mrs Sproat said many of the students were “moved” by the human side of the records they saw and thought it unfair that several of the soldiers who survived the battlefields died of the flu on the way home.
She said coming to Archives New Zealand is a wonderful link to have with the past.
“It’s fantastic that rural students get to see these primary resources which give them great insight into the lives of New Zealanders who lived in those times.”
This is the second year Mrs Sproat’s class has visited the archives. They were accompanied by Neil Francis from Wairarapa Archives in Masterton.
For the group making the journey from Masterton to Wellington by train meant getting up early and according to them all it was well worth the effort.