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Digital archive failure hits First World War commemorations

Digital archive failure hits First World War commemorations

The failure of the Government’s digital archive programme is putting at risk a cornerstone project that is part of centenary commemorations of New Zealand’s involvement in World War One, Labour’s Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“In December it was revealed the Government’s flagship $12 million digital archive programme had failed and was to be canned.

“One of the results of this is that a project to make the diaries, personnel and other records of New Zealand World War One veterans searchable online by the time the commemorations start is in jeopardy.

“A new tool to ‘ingest’ the data was to be developed as part of the digital archive programme. That is now not happening, and I have been told the existing tool could take up to four years to make the records searchable.

“The searchable records have been described as the ‘cornerstone’ of a number of the centenary projects, and were announced by the Minister with great fanfare last August.

“It is hugely disappointing this Government IT bungle has put these projects in jeopardy. The commemorations are an important part of acknowledging the service and sacrifice of thousands of New Zealanders and their families.

“The failure of the Government Digital Archive Programme and the Active Archives project to move the Treaty of Waitangi make it quite clear the merger of Archives New Zealand into the Department of Internal Affairs has been a disaster.

“The archives play an important constitutional and historical role that does not appear to be understood or appreciated by department management.

“The Minister of Internal Affairs has acknowledged the digital archive programme was ‘not money well spent’ and is reviewing what happened. That review also now needs to consider the whole merger before further damage is done to this vital institution that is responsible for looking after significant parts of our country’s heritage,” Grant Robertson says.


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