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Priceless Collection Online

Media release
For immediate release
23 June 2000


He may be the man who gave rugby the Ranfurly Shield, but the sport fails to feature in any of the Ranfurly Collection’s hundreds of papers, photographs, paintings and drawings, which are available online for the first time.

The database will give online users an unusually detailed look at the life of Lord Ranfurly and his family when he was Governor of New Zealand between 1897 and 1904.

“The newly launched Ranfurly database is a rich source of information about New Zealand society at that time,” said Margaret Calder, Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The entire Ranfurly Collection has been digitised as part of the National Library’s Millennium Project, and as a pilot for future electronic-access initiatives to its collections.

Future digitisation projects at the Library received a $2 million cash injection in last week’s budget announcement. The Government also boosted the National Library’s fund for buying materials for long-term preservation by a further $1 million.

“The launch of the Ranfurly database is an important step forward for the digital presentation of collections, as the format enables researchers where ever they are to easily see the wonderful images without compromising the usual scholarly information,” said Ms Calder.

The database provides digital images of the drawings, photographs and diaries created by Lord Ranfurly and his entourage during his tenure in New Zealand. Full records for all items in the collection are provided, along with the relevant image.

Each album of material is grouped together as it was collected by the Ranfurly family, enabling the viewer to see the collection much as it actually appears in real life.

“We’ve digitised the whole page of each album, not just the photographs on them, to retain the physical sense of the document. As a result, users can read through the album as if they had the original in front of them,” said Ms Calder.

The database turns up a number of fascinating images from Ranfurly’s extensive tours throughout New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. One album documents Ranfurly’s role in the annexation of the Cook Islands and Niue in 1900. It includes scenes of the pomp and imperial ritual associated with the annexation, as well as photographs of island life at the time.
“The Ranfurlys were enthusiastic chroniclers and the collection provides a unique record of the lives of the Governor and his family and entourage, an insight not possible through the official records of the Governor’s activities,” said Ms Calder.

Earlier this year the Library launched the website Te Waimano to mark the beginning of the new millennium.

You can get to the Ranfurly Collection through our website at and then go to the Public Database.


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