Ngā Tapuwae - the Footprints - is the newsletter of Archives New Zealand. It tells the stories of our people, our work and achievements.
In this issue of Ngā Tapuwae the focus is on how we are changing the way we do our business in order to better improve our services to customers; and coupled with this is our objective to get more of our records online and provide new opportunities for people to interact with the archives.
There is no doubt that we are living in a time when the internet is one of the main forms of communication. According to World Internet Users statistics 1, there are currently 2.4 billion people connected to the internet, or about 34 per cent of the population. – and this number is on the rise.
This phenomenal technological change has led to significant social change, as increasing numbers of people are forming online communities that ignore regional and national boundaries.
The Facebook community, for example didn’t exist in January 2004. Today there are more than one billion members; making the Facebook nation the world’s third most populous.
This growth is reflected here with New Zealand Internet Statistics 2, showing 86 per cent of New Zealanders have access to online information, an increase from 78 per cent in 2007.
As an information agency this is the environment that Archives New Zealand operates in. It is an environment that is going through constant and intense change and one we need to keep abreast of.
We need to ask important questions about how best an archive can operate in this environment. What is an Archive today? Is it a building? Is it a repository?
Today the national archive is much more than this.
We are about the services we carry out for our stakeholders across the public sector and for the general public. Our archives buildings in the four main centres are important to us and our customers, but over time online delivery will be just as much if not more important, as this is the way we can reach out to many more people.
We hold a wealth of valuable information and we aim to make it increasingly available online, through our own and partnership websites, such as FamilySearch and via social media channels such as Facebook and YouTube.
All the best Greg
2 Compiled by the Auckland University of Technology in 2011 for the World Internet Project, http://www.aut.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/252077/WorldInternetProjectNZ_2011final.pdf
While the pending closure of the historic 35-millimetre-film processing lab at Wellington’s Park Road Post is bad news for most, every cloud, as they say, has a silver lining and Archives New Zealand has turned the impending closure into positive action.
“We’ve been on a mission to get a comprehensive picture of the entire collection, including its level of importance and condition, so we can get high priority film digitally copied before the closure at the end of June,” says Acting Manager Collection Care Ronnie Pace.
“We have some 6000 films all up, ranging from newsreels and in-house government department training and public awareness campaign films to Disney cartoons,” he says.
“Much of the high priority film collection is from the National Film Unit (NFU) and some of the earlier film from 1938 to the mid 1950s is on unstable nitrate base."
With the number of films in the care of Archives New Zealand meeting the June deadline may seem a daunting task, but the aim is get copied onto polyester those that are clearly important government records and those assessed as being valuable to a New Zealand audience.
The audit has prioritised 120 to 240 films to be copied by the end of June.
“This has involved the Collection Care Technicians getting onto the job of processing the films for copying,” says Ronnie.
“One of the highest priorities for them has been the nitrate film which is highly flammable, and any thought of sending this film overseas for copying is not an option for us.
"Currently the team are rotationally preparing 10–15 films a week for copying at the Park Road Post laboratory.”
At the heart of the next stage of the project is Archivist Uili Fecteau, who is collating and prioritising numerous lists to identify the film gems to be copied first.
“We are currently on schedule to have all the nitrate film copied onto polyester and next we’ll be moving onto the acetate collection,” says Uili. “This means we will have copied all of the Weekly Reviews and some if not all of the very high priority NFU film.
“Preserving them onto a polyester base means that the information is good for at least another 300 years or maybe longer,” he says. “Another plus is having polyester copies means they are also more accessible to the public as they can be easily digitised over a period of time.
“We can also make them available on the Archives New Zealand film site and YouTube.
“Currently there are more than 300 titles on YouTube. This is proving to be a popular way for the public to engage with these historic films, as they are able to ‘curate’ the films by making comments about them.
“Our most popular film is Samoa 1949, which has had some 31,000 hits,” says Uili. “This has overtaken the New Zealand is Yours Nightlife Flight of the Concords piece.
“This project is all about preserving the past and is great news for New Zealand's filmic history.
“For example, people can see both the before and after digitisation versions of the great film Country Lads about soldiers going off to World War Two – the digital version is top quality and brings the film to life.”
The Collection Care team in the preservation laboratory, from left to right, Thomas McQuillan, Ronnie Pace, Uili Fecteau, Rosie Rowe and Katherine Nagels. Absent Geoff Shepherd and Caroline Garratt.
Researchers wanting to delve into political papers should find their availability from Archives New Zealand faster and easier in the coming months, according to Senior Archivist Tony Connell.
Tony who heads the vetting team, which reviews all politicians’ papers before they are provided to researchers either in the reading room or online, says the team is out to streamline the current process to get the papers out there as quickly as possible.
And this is no mean feat as vetting involves a lot of reading and consultation.
“We check everything twice,” he says. “As well, we consult with the agencies and organisations supplying us with the records, and sometimes with families, individuals and with Māori.
“We also need to check legislation, access regimes and codes of practice and sometimes we need to do a bit of historical research, too.”
The time to vet files can vary from a week to a month. The vetting team work to a set of carefully established procedures which are regularly reviewed.
“We are always looking for ways to make things faster and easier for the researcher,” Tony says. “Some recent changes we’ve made, for example include providing the researcher with one Archives New Zealand contact – making a check on progress easier and simpler.
And why vet? Vetting is done to make sure the information made available is appropriate – and to make sure no inappropriate information is inadvertently handed over.
“The thing with these papers is that they can often contain surprises. We need to check them all for security classified material and for material which may breach people’s privacy.
“We also make sure all the statutory requirements are met.”
Politicians’ papers are transferred to Archives New Zealand under section 42 of the Public Records Act 2005 which states that the Chief Archivist may accept Parliamentary records, Ministers’ papers and certain private records.
These records often have special access conditions, including that access has to be agreed to by the politician in question (if they are still alive) or at the discretion of the Chief Archivist. However, most politicians would allow access to their archival papers.
The Vetting team Jeff Carr (right) and Tony Connell.
Shhh... it's top secret.
Looking at World War One through the eyes of the people who experienced it both in New Zealand and on the battle fields is the premise behind War Stories, a joint initiative of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Alexander Turnbull Library and Archives New Zealand.
“Our aim is to create video stories on New Zealanders impacted by the First World War and Archives New Zealand’s contribution is providing visual archival records of the time,” says Archivist David Knight.
“This includes photographs, diaries and letters, and service records of the soldiers, pilots, sailors and nurses who served overseas, and those at home from conscientious objectors and anti-militarists, to mothers and women involved in patriotic societies.
“We have a wealth of information covering the war period from all angles and the challenge is to decide what to leave out,” he said.
“Mascots, for example, make for an interesting story and one of the great ones is about Bess the horse who was the only horse to leave New Zealand with the main contingent in 1914 and return to New Zealand at the end of the war.”
Bess was the personal mount of Colonel Guy Powles of the Wellington Mounted Rifles and saw action many times in the desert campaigns of Egypt, Sinai and Palestine. The surviving horses of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were either detailed to other British units, sold to local traders or ordered destroyed. Fortunately Bess continued on with Colonel Powles to England where she represented New Zealand at the coronation of 1920. Bess was later immortalised in bronze as part of an ANZAC Memorial sculpture erected in Egypt in 1932.
Colonel Powles later became one of the first Principals of Flock House Farm Training Institute near Bulls, and while out riding his faithful mare one day in October 1934 ‘…she suddenly decided to lie down and die then and there’. Bess was buried where she lay and her proud master erected a Cairn on the site. Bess has remained a tangible link between man and animal that sacrificed so much in World War One.
The War Stories project is led by Ministry for Culture and Heritage historian Jock Phillips, the aim is to have 20, 3-4 minute video stories available by the end of this year with a target of 50 set for ongoing production throughout the course of the World War One centenary commemorations.
“All the stories will be available on our three websites, plus Archives New Zealand’s YouTube channel, and we want to see them in schools as they will be excellent curriculum source material,” David says.
“As well we are hopeful that the mainstream media will screen them on television so they will have even greater impact and reach.”
Archivist David Knight sorts through a box of potential photographs for use in War Stories.
Bess the horse feature on the ANZAC war memorial in Egypt.
Sir Julius Vogel Premier with Ambitious Plans
This month (April) marks 140 years since Sir Julius Vogel became Premier of New Zealand.
Sir Julius was born in London on 24 February 1835. After a brief time in Australia he moved to Otago in 1861 and became the founding editor of the Otago Daily Times. He was appointed to the Provincial Council in 1863 and was head of the provincial government from 1868-69. From 1865 to 1869 Sir Julius was effectively leader of the opposition until he took up the role of Treasurer for government n 1869.
As Colonial Treasurer Sir Julius through his energy into a massive public works and immigration policy, and proposed borrowing 10million pounds to construct roads, railways and telegraphs. He also set-up State Life Insurance in 1869 and the Public Trust Office in 1872.
When Sir William Fox retired as Premier in 1872 Vogel was asked to form a Government becoming Premier on 8 April 1873.
As part of Vogel's ambitious plans almost 32,000 immigrants arrived in New Zealand in 1873 with 18,000 arriving the next year.
Sir Julius was knighted in 1875. He died at the age of 64 in England on 12 March 1899.
Archives New Zealand holds a number of items about Sir Julius, as well as immigration, railways and public works records from the Vogel era and you can may your own search in Archway to check these.
Sir Julius Vogel.
The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George is awarded to men and women who provide extraordinary or important non-military service.
The Disposal and Acquisition team, part of the Archives New Zealand Client Capability function has been busy over the last few months talking to people in agencies about what works for them when it comes to top-notch recordkeeping management and disposal.
This has included a close look at the overall appraisal framework, how general authorities can best support agencies to do their job and how to manage records in a changing public sector environment.
A review of Archives New Zealand’s appraisal policies, sparked by changes in the world of recordkeeping, changes in government as agencies amalgamated and feedback from recordkeepers has led to the development of a whole new appraisal framework.
“What started with a review of the policies to check they were still fit for purpose and useful highlighted a need for a more fundamental rethink of parts of our appraisal work,” says Manager Disposal and Acquisition, Denise Williams.
“So we changed our approach and are developing a new framework.”
The new framework is underpinned by an Appraisal Statement which has been consulted on with various stakeholders and the feedback was constructive, supportive and useful, Denise says.
“We are heading in the right direction, and now we are reviewing our processes, guides and templates to make them more user friendly and helpful.”
“We hired a specialist to help with this work – we are taking a more holistic look at the issues and working to develop a better process and system to provide a better service to agencies.”
The original process and guides were created from an Archives New Zealand perspective and not from the clients, and they were geared to a paper-based recordkeeping environment.
“We need to make them easier for people to follow and more suited to a digital environment,” says Denise. “The system needed to be streamlined so people could get approval for their disposal and retention schedules more efficiently.
“Taking a partnership approach and working with agencies will lead to a better final product.
“We have been very pleased with their response. Having frequent contact with people in agencies has given us a good understanding of the problems and the best ways to manage them.”
The framework, with its associated guides and templates, is now in the final polishing stages and Archives’ is hoping to be able to launch the new suite of products in July or August this year.
Archives New Zealand has re-formatted its General Disposal Authorities in response to feedback from agency recordkeepers.
Manager Disposal and Acquisition, Denise Williams says the key issue was a need to revise the authorities to gear them more for a digital recordkeeping environment.
“We also found people were saying the authorities were difficult to understand and apply and some of the disposal classes were duplications and also unclear.
“To counteract this we have combined three of the authorities and moved to a spreadsheet approach which is much easier and simpler for managing digital records.”
The first new General Disposal Authority covers the corporate records (finance, administration, and Human Resource records) and is currently published as an Intention to Dispose.
“We are now addressing GDA 3 on general housekeeping records which we are hoping to launch in July or August,” she said.
The recordkeeping ramifications of agency amalgamations need to be kept in mind, says Senior Archivist, Claire Ashcroft.
“Sometimes it’s a problem of people needing to amalgamate very different recordkeeping systems, processes and products and sometimes it’s more about the context within which recordkeeping happens,” she says.
“It definitely makes things more complicated. For example there are situations where an agency ceases to exist, but its functions carry on so the records for that work are now within a different agency.”
Archives New Zealand stands ready to support recordkeepers with advice, tools and guides as they handle these situations.
“We are keen to help and understand the issues that can arise and urge agencies to contact us for advice.”
Please contact email@example.com
On the job Senior Archivist Claire Ashcroft (left) and Manager Disposal and Acquisition Denise Williams check a client information sheet.
The roll call for those who died and the commemoration of New Zealand’s contribution to World War One is underway next year and the Archives Online/ Description & Discovery teams are on a mission to bring previously unseen material from the archives into the public eye.
Getting the World War One Unit Diaries, the monthly diaries of all the individual army units, online may seem a daunting task, but the aim is have the main units completed by the end of the year.
Archivist, Sonya Behrnes says nearly 3,400 are already available on Archives New Zealand’s online search engine Archway, using a simple search of the units name, and while there is a deadline looming she is enjoying the work this involves.
“My task is to go through all the boxes containing these diaries, find out what’s in them, describe them so they are can be searched for by the public and them list them on Archway,” Sonya says.
“Part of the project is to repackage and re-box the diaries in order to preserve them.
As each of the units has more than one diary I also create series documentation, so people can access all the relevant material they are looking for.”
Sonya says the diaries contain a wealth of information as the army units cover everything from military units, to the camel and cyclists' corps, the field bakery and ambulance corps, chaplain’s services plus there is a war records section.
Interesting finds include information and photographs about the New Zealand section of the Queen’s Hospital in Sidcup (near London) where ground breaking work in plastic surgery was accomplished by New Zealand doctors Henry Pickerill and Harold Gillies.
Drawings and plans of some of the major trenches dug in the Somme have been found in the New Zealand Māori Pioneer Battalion unit records, reference WA97/1. The Pioneer Battalion were the first unit of the New Zealand Division to move onto the Somme Battlefield in August 1916.
“Often some of the material is in the wrong box, or out of order and this makes the work challenging, but it’s satisfying knowing it will end up being a comprehensive record of people’s involvement in World War One,” Sonya says.
“As well as being a goldmine for historians it means a great deal to those who delve into the records to find out more about their relatives.”
Currently the aim is to digitise a small selection of the War Diaries with the expectation of doing more in the future.
Sonya Behrnes shows a picture of patients and staff from the Queen’s Hospital for jaw and facial injuries, dated 21 March 1918
Chief Archivist Greg Goulding has been elected deputy chair of the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities (CAARA). Membership of CARRA includes the heads of all the New Zealand and Australian federal, state and territory archives and records organisations. CARRA is a forum for discussing common challenges and cooperative work on standards, training and development. The appointment is for one year.
If you are out and about in Dunedin there is still an opportunity to see the Please Sign Our Visitors Book exhibition before it closes at the Dunedin Regional Archive in George Street. Exhibition curator Archivist Vivienne Cuff says she chose to feature the visitors’ books for their variety and because they illustrate another way that individual people come in contact with government and its services.
Want to upskill on information, records and archives?
Archives New Zealand offers a variety of training opportunities throughout the country for people wanting to upskill in the information, recordkeeping and archival management areas. For Wellington based people there’s also a new Records Management Network that aims to keep you in touch with what other people are doing in records management, and you can hear what’s happening in the recordkeeping space and bring those questions along.
Check out the ww100facebook page to see Archives New Zealand content and check out what’s coming up in next year’s World War One commemorative programme steered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
Members of the newly appointed Archives Council met for the first time this year on 22 April. The Council’s role is to provide independent advice to the Internal Affairs Minister on archives and recordkeeping issues.
From left to right, David Reeves, Dr Aroha Harris, chair Diane Morcom, George Reedy, Barry Holdaway, Dr Gillian Oliver and Stuart Strachan.
At the meeting Hon Chris Tremain, centre, presented the book about Archives New Zealand’s holdings Secrets and Treasures, to two of the outgoing members, in appreciation of their work. Left, former chair Richard Nottage, and right Mel Smith.