Government announces $10m to go towards protecting New Zealand's history

Department of Internal Affairs

The 1835 Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition leave Archives New Zealand for their new home.

The Government will spend $10 million to safeguard some of the country's most important historical treasures as part of this year's Budget. 

The money would go towards increasing the storage capacity and resilience of Archive New Zealand's collection, Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said on Monday. 

The refurbishment of the 50-year-old building in Thorndon would allow better access to records and documents held in the archives.

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne.
TOM LEE/STUFF

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne.

It would also mean items could be stored in a more sensitive way, in conditions that would ensure ink did not fade, and paper did not crumble. 

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"Our vast collections include important Government records, valuable documentary heritage, artwork, scientific data and taonga," Dunne said.

Archives New Zealand staff getting ready to carry documents out of Archives New Zealand, which are the 1835 Declaration ...

Archives New Zealand staff getting ready to carry documents out of Archives New Zealand, which are the 1835 Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and the the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition.

People looking for family records, such as military history, would be able to access them more easily. 

Chief archivist Marilyn Little said the money was significant as it would allow the organisation to find and buy land for a small storage facility to "decant" some archives and the legal depository, where two copies of every book written in New Zealand were kept. 

The building had not had much money spent on it in the past 25 years, and was not fit for purpose, she said. 

The Treaty of Waitangi, which will be on display at a new exhibition in the National Library.
Archives New Zealand

The Treaty of Waitangi, which will be on display at a new exhibition in the National Library.

The money comprises $8m in operational funding over two years, and $2.1m of capital funding over the next year.

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The $8m would go towards getting technical reports done on the site over the next year, before planning could go into moving the archives. 

The refurbishment would be an incredibly complex and technically challenging job, Little said. 

A 1950s army map showing the impact of atomic bombing of Wellington city, which will be on display.

A 1950s army map showing the impact of atomic bombing of Wellington city, which will be on display.

Water and wastewater pipes ran across the ceiling of five of the building's floors, and periodically "unpleasant stuff" leaked from the pipes, and staff had to put on bio suits to clean up. 

Archives were kept in boxes made of wax, which kept them safe from water. 

The Treaty of Waitangi, the suffragettes' petition, and the 1835 Declaration of Independence have been moved from Archives to the National Library, and will go on display with David Lange's notes from the 1985 Oxford Union debate, and a map from shortly after World War II showing what would happen if an atomic bomb were dropped on Wellington Railway Station. 

 - Stuff

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