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Speech - New Dawn for National Archives




19 May, 2000

New Dawn for National Archives

The National Archives of New Zealand will become an independent department, responsible for record keeping within the government, from October 1, the Minister responsible for National Archives, Marian Hobbs, announced today. It is currently part of the Department of Internal Affairs.

"This is a new beginning for the National Archives," Marian Hobbs said. "The Government recognises that the important constitutional function National Archives play, requires an independent status.

"Most people know that the Archives preserve historic documents fundamental to our existence as a nation, such as the Treaty of Waitangi and the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition. In addition, the work of the Archives is directed at ensuring that a full and accurate record is kept throughout Government.

"This work is needed for good government. Records verify and can be used to test the accountability which departments, agencies, and authorities owe to the Crown through the people's elected representatives. They also document the rights and entitlements of citizens.

"Many people have long argued that only full institutional independence could give the Chief Archivist the authority and stature within Government to ensure that a full record of Government’s activity is maintained. An effective Archives is also essential if our democracy is to function. One of the keys to our freedom as a people is the accountability of governments to those who elect them. For this to happen, the record of Government must be accurate and reliable."

The Minister said the Budget would include a substantial increase in baseline funding for National Archives to enable it to carry out its important functions.

This will fund a realistic maintenance budget of National Archives buildings, expansion of the National Archives statutory and regulatory role in establishing and maintaining recordkeeping standards throughout Government, and work on developing a policy for electronic records.

The Budget will also provide for a capital injection to assist the development of computerised finding aids in National Archives.

"Support for New Zealand’s National Archives has simply not kept pace with either the customer service expected of such an important institution nor with the needs Government itself has of its archives authority," Marian Hobbs said. "This includes dealing with new developments such as electronic records. With two steps, an independent departmental status and a more realistic level of funding, the Government has made a substantial contribution towards turning the National Archives into the strong, responsive institution our democracy requires."


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