14 Jun 2020

Treasure hunting in the vaults of the Archives NZ

From Standing Room Only, 2:36 pm on 14 June 2020

The vaults of the Archives New Zealand are a labyrinth of historic files, films and documents - labelled, colour-coded, and many in urgent need of preservation before they deteriorate beyond saving. Archives New Zealand is the guardian of this material, though it's been racing against time to fulfill its brief with clearly inadequate resources. Just before the country went into lockdown, Lynn Freeman met the staff charged with preserving this taonga. Her guides in the first of a two-part documentary, were Richard Foy, Archives NZ Chief Archivist, Conservator Sarah Drake Lynn and Stefanie Lash, Principal Advisor Strategy and Planning. Shortly after Lynn's visit there was good news - a budget announcement of more than 190-million dollars for the Tahuhu (Preserving the Nation's Memory) project. The plan is to cover a new Archives New Zealand building linked to the library, as well as the first stages of a shared repository for heritage materials. But that's years away. Until then, this is the reality for the Archives New Zealand conservators.