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140 years of births, deaths and marriages

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Internal Affairs

26 November 2007

Book marks 140 years of births, deaths and marriages

Internal Affairs Minister, Rick Barker today launched the book Little Histories, Reflections on the Keeping of New Zealand’s Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages, which for the first time sets out the history of the registers since records began 140 years ago.

"Little Histories tells the story of the evolution of New Zealand’s records from beautiful old books, painstakingly handwritten, to computerised data systems that can search millions of records and verify details," Mr Barker said.

"Last week the Department of Internal Affairs celebrated 100 years of playing a key role in shaping New Zealand's national identity, it is fitting that this launch of this book should follow closely those celebrations.

"Preserving our shared memories is important to this Labour-led government and publishing Little Histories, and the stories it contains will help ensure that these memories do not disappear. This book occupies an important place in the documentation of our social history. It’s essential to capture the stories and anecdotes and how ideas have changed, before this knowledge is lost.

"It provides insights into the processes of record keeping, especially given the popularity of people’s research into family history. There’s so much of personal importance held in these records.

"I congratulate author Megan Hutching, the Registrar-General Brian Clarke and DIA staff for their efforts in making this wonderful story readily available to us all,” Mr Barker said.

Little Histories has been designed to have wide appeal, and contains illustrations from the Turnbull Library.

Author, Megan Hutching recorded interviews with seven subjects who have been involved with the registers over the last 40 years and the tapes are held at Wellington’s Alexander Turnbull Library.

The book can be viewed online at www.dia.govt.nz. The public will also be able to order a copy of the book through the Department’s website for $20.

ENDS

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