4 Jul 2012

Quake problems spur copying of whakapapa records

7:44 am on 4 July 2012

Ngai Tahu iwi says the Canterbury earthquakes have shown just how important it is to safeguard important documents such as its whakapapa (genealogical) database in a digital form, in case there's another natural disaster.

Tribal officials want to invest in a scanning project to back up hard copies of all genealogy and other historical records.

Runanga chairman Mark Solomon says getting access to archival material proved to be difficult after the Canterbury earthquakes.

Runanga offices in Te Waipounamu House in central Christchurch were off limits, which meant leaving some records exposed to the weather.

Mr Solomon says the earthquake taught the iwi some important lessons, as some whakapapa records in a basement safe got wet at a time when workers could not access to the site.

He says the digitisation project is another way to back up all their archives.

Mr Solomon says the material is quite extensive and includes old photographs, taonga, evidence from the Ngai Tahu Treaty claim and cultural mapping.

Whakapapa files were among the first batch of priority items rescued from Te Waipounamu House after the 22 February 2011 earthquake, and the Air Force Museum helped to store them securely.