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Questions and Answers

Continuum

What services do you provide?

Archives New Zealand provides appraisal and recordkeeping advice to help central and local government meet their needs for best practice recordkeeping systems. For a full description of these services, please see the Services to Public Offices page of this website. Our services and resources include:

Archives New Zealand provides access to the archives we hold. For more information on our reference services, please see the Research and Ordering section on our website.

Archives New Zealand is also dedicated to providing archival training, facilitation and advice in the community. For more information see the Services to Community page.

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Can only government agencies use your services?

Our services are targeted at central and local government agencies. However, the principles of good recordkeeping are common to all organisations, whether public or private. Any organisation is welcome to make use of our publications, which provide guidance on recordkeeping best practice. Copies can be downloaded at no charge from our Recordkeeping Publications page or requested directly from Archives New Zealand.

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Are government agencies charged for services?

Recordkeeping publications, advice, visits and talks are free to public offices and local authorities covered by the Public Records Act 2005.  Other services such as boxes and labels used in transfers, are also free to public offices.

There are a few services for which Archives New Zealand does charge. These include training courses, photocopying or other reproduction costs, urgent government loans, subscriptions to our technical library and some preservation services such as building condition surveys.

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Are recordkeeping publications and advice provided free of charge?

Recordkeeping publications are free to public offices and local authorities covered by the Public Records Act 2005. Services such as advice, visits and talks, are also free to public offices and local authorities.

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When will we be audited?

The Public Records Act 2005 s33-35, requires the Chief Archivist to commission independent audits of recordkeeping in public offices. The audits will begin in 2010 and each public office will be audited every five to 10 years.  From 2011 we will audit between 40 and 50 offices each year.
 
We will give Chief Executives at least six months notice of our intention to conduct an audit.
 
For more information on our audit programme see the Public Records Act Audit Programme page.

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Public Records Act

Are your standards mandatory?

Archives New Zealand can set standards under the Public Records Act 2005, which can be either mandatory or discretionary. Currently Archives New Zealand has four mandatory standards including:

Archives New Zealand also has three discretionary best practice standards including:

Before we issue standards we consult with all the organisations to which the standard will apply. For more information on the development of standards, please see the Standards Strategy and Methodology on this website.

The current Archives New Zealand standards are available for download from our publications page.

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What is a record?

A record is ‘information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or the transaction of business’ (ISO 15489). Very broadly this means that a record is any documentation or evidence of activity.

Examples could include (but are not limited to) a signed contract, meeting minutes, invoices and correspondence (including e-mails). See Fact Sheet: Make a Record for further information.

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What is a public record?

Public records are records that provide evidence of the transactions undertaken at all levels of the operation of central and local government operation. Public offices and local authorities are required by the Public Records Act 2005  to create and maintain full and accurate records of their activities, in accordance with normal, prudent business practice.

Public records and local authority protected records cannot be disposed of without the permission of the Chief Archivist. See Fact Sheet: Make a Record for further information.

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What is a local authority protected record?

Local authority protected records are those categories of local government records that the Chief Archivist has declared to be worthy of permanent retention and which cannot be disposed of without the permission of the Chief Archivist. The list of protected records is commonly referred to as the Local Government Schedule.

For more information, see F11: Local Authority Disposal.

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Is my organisation covered by the Public Records Act?

All government departments, crown entities, state enterprises, crown research institutes, district health boards, tertiary educations institutes, schools, local authorities and many other organisations are covered. See our List of public offices for a full list of those organisations covered by the Public Records Act.

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What is ISO 15489 and How Do I Get a Copy?

ISO 15489 is the International Standard on Records Management. It articulates the principles and elements that are necessary to the design of recordkeeping systems, and details how an organisation may meet these principles.

Archives New Zealand endorses ISO 15489 and has incorporated its principles into our Create and Maintain Recordkeeping Standard, which was issued in 2008. This standard is a practical recordkeeping framework for the New Zealand State Sector.

Important
Archives New Zealand's licence arrangement with Standards New Zealand to supply copies of ISO 15849 - International Standard on Records Management  free of charge to public offices in New Zealand expired on 31 March 2009. We have made the decision not to renew this licence. 

From 31st March 2009, copies can be obtained directly from Standards New Zealand.

Copies of the standard can be purchased from:

If you have any questions or concerns, email rkadvice.

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What sort of things should I be telling the managers in my agency about recordkeeping?

Good recordkeeping is simply good business practice. An efficient recordkeeping system promotes the orderly and efficient functioning of government, as well as saving your organisation time and money.

For further information on the benefits of good recordkeeping and managers' recordkeeping responsibilities see:

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What professional development do you provide?

Archives New Zealand has developed six exciting courses to support recordkeeping across the state sector and local government:

The courses are aimed at records and information managers, their staff, and other staff who have responsibility for recordkeeping systems. For course details, training dates, locations and registration see the Government Recordkeeping Training page.

As part of our commitment to improve understanding of current recordkeeping issues within government, Archives New Zealand also runs a regular series of free forums for recordkeepers. Each forum has professional speakers on a range of topical issues. Active participation is encouraged with opportunities for agency staff to contribute their own experiences. For forum dates and locations see the Government Recordkeeping Forums page.

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How do I register for a Government Recordkeeping Forum?

As part of our commitment to improve understanding of current recordkeeping issues within government, Archives New Zealand runs a regular series of free forums for recordkeepers. Each forum has professional speakers on a range of topical issues. Active participation is encouraged with opportunities for agency staff to contribute their own experiences.

For forum dates, locations and registration details see the Government Recordkeeping Forums page.

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Electronic Records

Does having an electronic recordkeeping system make us compliant with the Public Records Act?

No, you cannot achieve Public Records Act 2005 (PRA) compliance just by implementing a software product. To meet the requirements of the PRA a broad recordkeeping framework is required which includes policies, procedures, retention and disposal schedules, business classification, access classification etc. Technology is just one part of this framework.

Recordkeeping systems need to meet the minimum requirements of:

Importantly, any system an organisation uses must support its business needs, any sector-specific requirements and have a well considered and resourced change management component.  

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Does Archives New Zealand have an accreditation programme for electronic recordkeeping systems?

Archives New Zealand does not have an evaluation, accreditation or certification programme for electronic recordkeeping systems.  We do not advocate any records management product over another, and have not given any specific product our seal of approval.

Other jurisdictions have forms of accreditation / evaluation programmes. These are not designed to fit a New Zealand context, but they are useful as reference points.

Examples include:

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Can a database be a record?

Databases should be managed with the same care and controls as all other records created by your agency. Databases can contain public records that need to be managed in accordance with normal, prudent business practice.

For further guidance see:

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If we scan our records, can we destroy the original paper record?

Yes you can, but there are two requirements that must be met under the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 before you can destroy original documents.

The requirements that must be met are:

  1. the electronic form must provide a reliable means of assuring the maintenance of the integrity of the information; and 
  2. the information must be readily accessible so people can use it for subsequent reference.

The information's integrity is only maintained if the information remains complete and unaltered.

You must also be able to provide a hardcopy printout because, under the Electronic Transactions Act 2002, a person asking for information is not obliged to accept it in electronic form.

If you are planning to undertake digitisation you should meet the requirements of the discretionary Digitisation Standard. If you are planning to destroy the hard copy originals you need to meet the requirements of the Digitisation Standard and have sign off from your Chief Executive. This ensures that the newly created electronic records maintain the integrity and reliability of the information and will be accessible for future reference, for as long as required.

If you meet the requirements of the Digitisation Standard you can then use GDA5. General Disposal Authority for Digitised Original Source Records to destroy the paper copies if you meet the conditions set out in the disposal authority.

If you are planning to undertake a digitisation project please contact the Government Recordkeeping Programme for further advice.

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What sort of things should be included in a good recordkeeping programme?

A formal recordkeeping programme is a fundamental building block of good recordkeeping. To ensure the creation and maintenance of accurate and reliable records you need:

For further guidance see:

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My agency is considering buying an Electronic Document Records Management System (EDRMS). What should we be considering?

It is worth spending time and effort on comprehensive and systematic planning for the purchase and implementation of an EDRMS. An electronic document and records management system is not a ‘solution’ to poor recordkeeping. In some cases, the imposition of new systems and software over poor practices can worsen the situation. It is a business change initiative - not an IT project - and for it be successful it should be supported by a comprehensive records management and change management programme.

For more information on the things to consider see:

For further advice contact the rkadvice@archives.govt.nz
 
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What should my organisation do with e-mails?

Email messages and their attachments are like any other corporate record and are subject to the Public Records Act.

For further information on managing emails as records see:

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Do we have to keep everything?

No. Under the Public Records Act the disposal (usually transferring or destroying) of records must be authorised by the Chief Archivist. The Chief Archivist has approved a set of General Disposal Authorities which allow public offices (excluding local authorities) to destroy certain classes of routine administrative records on an ongoing basis. These include:

In order to destroy other records, a public office must have its own valid disposal authority, approved by the Chief Archivist, which identifies those records that may be destroyed and those which should be transferred when they are no longer needed for business purposes. No public record may be destroyed without the prior permission of the Chief Archivist.

Local authorities must retain records in accordance with the Protected Records Schedule. To destroy records identified in the Protected Records Schedule local authorities must have authority to do so from the Chief Archivist.

For retention and disposal advice contact the Appraisal Team.

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How do I manage my website under the Public Records Act?

Information produced and maintained on the web as part of public sector business is covered by the Public Records Act. This includes information in:

For further information see:

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Are text messages / electronic communications covered under the Public Records Act?

Yes. If government business is being transacted via text message or other electronic communications technology then the message is considered a public record and must be managed appropriately. This may involve creating a file note of the message or downloading and storing the message electronically.

If your organisation is using communications technology as part of your business, then you must ensure that the records created are identified and covered by your corporate recordkeeping policy.

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Retention and Disposal

Are we allowed to destroy routine records?

Yes. Archives New Zealand has produced a set of General Disposal Authorities which allow government agencies (excluding local authorities) to destroy certain classes of routine administrative records on an ongoing basis. These include:

Local authorities must keep all records identified in the Protected Records Schedule. All other records can be destroyed when no longer required for business purposes. The GDA's can be used to guide local authorities in making decisions on when to destroy routine administrative records.

For advice on applying the GDA's and the Protected Records Schedule contact the Appraisal Team.

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Can we keep records for longer than the Archives New Zealand retention period?

Records should be kept as long as there is an actual business or legislative need for them, even if this is beyond the retention period. It is in the best interests of the agency to dispose of records that no longer serve a business/legislative requirement once the retention period is up.

Retention periods are permissive. That means they give you permission to destroy records at any point after expiry periods have passed, so you may keep records after they are approved for destruction. However, if you do this, ensure the records are still cared for and managed in records systems, and that they are not accidentally re-submitted for appraisal.

For advice on retention and disposal contact the Appraisal Team.

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What is deferred transfer?

Once public records of archival value are over 25 years of age they must be transferred to Archives New Zealand. If the records are required for on-going business purposes, the controlling office must apply for a deferred transfer agreement. This agreement is then recorded in the deferred transfer agreement register. The register lists all classes of records that are deferred and any conditions placed on this.

For further advice about deferred transfer or to apply contact the Appraisal Team.

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My agency needs to transfer records to Archives New Zealand. How do we do this?

The Arrangement and Description Team manages the transfer of records to Archives New Zealand. To transfer you must have sentenced the records against an approved disposal authority or an approved ad hoc appraisal.

For further details about the transfer process See the Transfer of Public Archives page. It will lead you through the process for transferring records approved for deposit to Archives. For further advice contact the Arrangement and Description Team.

We also offer training on appraisal, sentencing and transfer to Archives New Zealand. See the Training page for further details about the Preparing Records for Transfer training course.

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How do I transfer digital records to Archives New Zealand?

Archives New Zealand is currently upgrading to an industrial-strength Government Digital Archive. We are seeking partners to work with as we develop the new system; these digital records would be the first to be transferred.
Agencies interested in transferring digital records should contact the Digital Continuity team for further information.

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How do we go about getting a disposal authority?

The first step towards public offices (excludes local authorities) obtaining authorisation for public records disposal is appraisal, which determine the records’ value. Public offices can either undertake appraisals themselves or contract records management consultants to undertake this work on their behalf.

Completed appraisal reports are submitted to Archives New Zealand. Our staff will then review them for clarity and to ensure that disposal recommendations are appropriate. They then undergo a public comment phase before they are submitted to the Chief Archivist for approval.

For many offices, our General Disposal Authorities can be used for the disposal of particular classes of records without having to go through this process.

Archives New Zealand has a range of guides to support agencies in preparing appraisal reports. These include:

Local authorities must obtain approval to destroy protected records. For local authoriites intending to destroy protected records contact the Appraisal Team for further advice and guidance.

Further information is available on the Disposal page.

For advice on disposal authorities contact the Appraisal Team.

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Are schools covered by the Public Records Act?

Yes, under the Public Records Act, state and integrated schools are defined as public offices. Schools are required to create and maintain records of their activities in accordance with normal, prudent business practice. Schools must also dispose of their records in accordance with the Chief Archivist’s permission.

The School Records Schedule gives clear procedure that schools can use to fulfil legislative guidelines about archiving school records. The School Records Retention/Disposal Information Pack provides guidance about the managment of school records.

The Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ) has a special interest group for school archivists and recordkeepers. For further information see the ARANZ website.

For further advice about school records contact the Government Recordkeeping Programme.

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How do I find out what archival records are held by Archives New Zealand?

Check our online system Archway for government records which have been transferred to our four offices in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington.

For more information on our reference services, please see the Research and Ordering page on our website.
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Does Archives New Zealand take personal papers?

Our main function is to care for the records of government. We sometimes take personal collections, but usually only the records of government ministers or other senior politicians. There are other collecting archives in the country who take records of private individuals. For further information The National Register of Archives and Manuscripts (NRAM) may be able to help.

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