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Digital Recordkeeping

Introduction to Digital Recordkeeping

The transformation of the work environment through the adoption of digital technologies has brought both benefits and challenges for recordkeeping. All government agencies and local authorities now create a significant proportion of their records in digital form and most are developing systems and practices to enable the ongoing maintenance and accessibility of digital records.

The principles of good recordkeeping apply equally to all records and the majority of our recordkeeping standards and guides apply to records in all formats. However Archives New Zealand recognises that there are particular challenges faced by public offices and local authorities in managing electronic records.

For further information about digital recordkeeping also see our Frequently Asked Questions page.

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Defining Digital Records

The term ‘digital records’ includes records that are born-digital (e.g. documents created using Microsoft Word) and those that have been digitised from another medium or format (e.g. paper records that have been scanned).

Digital records can be defined as:

“Records created, communicated and maintained by means of electronic or computer equipment."  [From Jackie Bennington, ed., Keeping Archives, 3rd ed., Port Melbourne, 2008, p.635.]

Digital records are ‘public records’ and are covered by the Public Records Act 2005.

For further information about managing digital records see:

Or email the Government Recordkeeping Programme

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Managing Emails as Records

Emails are public records and should be treated like any other record. For further information see:

Or email the Government Recordkeeping Programme.

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Digitisation has become a very common process in central and local government and raises some recordkeeping challenges.
For further information see:

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Electronic Recordkeeping Metadata

Records, especially digital records, cannot exist as authentic and reliable evidence of business without recordkeeping metadata. Recordkeeping metadata identifies and describes records including their content, and provides links to other records associated with them and with their business context.

Archives New Zealand has developed the S8: Electronic Recordkeeping Metadata Standard that sets minimum requirements for creating, maintaining and managing recordkeeping metadata in electronic environments. This standard and the accompanying Technical Specifications apply to electronic records created by local authorities and public offices.

We have also developed a Technical Guide to Implementing Recordkeeping Metadata in Electronic Document/Records Management Systems (EDRMS).

The guide focuses on the Technical Specifications that support the Electronic Recordkeeping Metadata Standard and contains advice on:  

Archives New Zealand regularly runs an Electronic Recordkeeping Metadata Training course to support the standard and technical specifications. Please see the Government Recordkeeping Training page for more information about Archives New Zealand's Training Programme.

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Standards and Guides

The following resources have been developed specifically for issues faced in the creation and maintenance of electronic records:

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Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative

Archives New Zealand is a collaborating partner in the Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (external link), which was launched in Wellington on October 5, 2005. Together with the national, state and territory public records institutions in Australia, we will work towards a common set of strategies to ensure that the digital records of government are preserved and made accessible for the future.

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Archives New Zealand Digital Continuity Programme

The digital continuity team is responsible for:

Current projects include:

For further information, contact the digital continuity team.

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Transferring Digital Records to Archives New Zealand

The following is a list of the file formats that Archives New Zealand has experience in handling and indicates what we have been able to deal with in past transfers.
Archives New Zealand is continually building skills and experience in this area and will certainly consider transfers of records in different formats including:

Please note that having records in these file formats does not guarantee that a transfer can be conducted.
Please contact us to discuss the feasibility of your digital transfer. 

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External Resources

Other areas of interest in the digital recordkeeping space include:

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