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Partnering To Give Access And Preserve Historic Community Newspapers

Community newspapers at risk of loss and decay will have a more secure future and be better able to inform the present thanks to a new agreement between the National Library of New Zealand and The Preserving Local History and Education Trust.

The Trust has recently been established with the goal, through grant funding, to digitise historic community and local newspapers to support their availability and use in local history and education initiatives.

Their agreement with the National Library of New Zealand will ensure these valuable local titles will be made available via the Papers Past platform, which currently provides access to 8 million pages of New Zealand’s newspaper archive.

“The National Library is excited to be working with the Trust on this initiative,” says Mark Crookston, Director of Content Services at the National Library of New Zealand.

“It will elevate community and local stories to the same level of access as the major daily and metropolitan titles which are the predominant focus of our very successful Papers Past service.”

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Trustees Andy Fenton and Jane Hill acknowledged with gratitude the strategic relationship with the National Library.

“Much of our history is documented in local community newspapers,” Jane says.

“They contain so much rich content about everyday New Zealanders: revealing the people, places, events, organisations, businesses, societies, iwi, and hapu that make up a village, small town, rohe, or region. We want this to be available to all Kiwis today, and for generations to come. If we do not act today, the first written draft of our history will be lost forever.”

The Trust’s primary goal is to preserve Aotearoa New Zealand’s newspapers, a significant component of our cultural heritage and taonga.

“We believe our mahi can provide lasting benefits for communities and will help advance education, while ultimately supporting the views and expectations of all Kiwis,” Andy says.

“The introduction of the Aotearoa New Zealand Histories in our school curriculum means that free and easy access to heritage resources, like community newspapers, is essential; this Trust is helping you tell your stories.”

The National Library supports this mahi through the conversion of digitised newspaper to data for Papers Past that enables them to be full text searchable, and through storing and preserving the digital files through time.

“It’s part of a changing direction that will see us explore more partnerships to enable more of New Zealand’s stories being accessed and used,” Mark says.

The first six titles from across Aotearoa New Zealand have been digitised, with support from the Lotteries Environment & Heritage Committee and the Russell Henderson Trust, after a modest grant from Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, which gave the impetus and confidence needed to form the Trust. Covering titles from Ohakune, Taupō, Blenheim, Dunedin, Devonport and Central Otago, they will be made available on the Trust’s Recollect platform ( now, and will start appearing on Papers Past in the coming year.



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