Formal Ceremony To Begin Construction Of New Archives Facility
A formal ceremony on the Aitken Street site in Wellington this morning was livestreamed to a wider audience, as Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti joined Taranaki Whānui Te Āti Awa representatives and other dignitaries at an event that included Te Huringa o Papatūānuku, the turning of the earth to mark the start of work on site.
This new building will provide a state-of-the-art archives repository and specialist facilities for Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga Archives New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library of New Zealand and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
Taranaki Whānui Te Āti Awa representatives and design agency, Tihei, have worked alongside architects Warren & Mahoney to co-design this building with a te ao Māori world view, connecting the building to the whenua it sits on and acknowledging the people that lived here before.
“The new building will be on part of the original Pipitea Pā whenua. This was where we grew our kai, raised our families and buried our dead. It’s easy to dump stuff on a building but we are all about integrating our identity, our values and stories through design so that it gives life and soul to place,” Toi Pūkenga Tihei Rangi Kipa said.
When people enter the building, they will feel a sense of walking down into the whenua. In the plaza visitors will see references to the original pipi beds, gardens and kumara mounds. On the building façade, the names of Te Āti Awa hapū and references to their mana i te whenua will be placed facing Parliament.
“The waiata and design is about reigniting our presence back on Pipitea and throughout our takiwā to ensure that the existence of the mana whenua of Pipitea Kainga will never be forgotten. The bold poutama designs and debossing on the building’s façade are ancient designs from our heritage, our whenua and our identity, making us visible on the landscape again,” Rangi Kipa said.
The new Archives building will boast one of the highest performing façades in the country, minimising the energy required to maintain repository conditions and ensuring collections remain protected even in the event power is lost to the building. Base isolation means the building will be able to remain safe and fully operational after a major earthquake.
The building will also feature additional seminar and meeting rooms, secure loading and quarantine areas, state-of-the-art repositories and shelving, audio visual and film suites and conservation and digitisation facilities.
Kaipupuri Matua Chief Archivist, Stephen Clarke says when the new facility opens it will mark a transformational change in Archives New Zealand’s ability to care for our memory of government and taonga.
“The opportunities with the new facility are massive. For Archives New Zealand, it will ensure archives are kept in the most modern facilities for conservation and care. But, the biggest opportunity will be for the public to have greater access to view the wide range of taonga we care for on their behalf.
“Archives tell the story of who we are, what has shaped us, where we are now, and how we might step into the future. They play a pivotal role in who we are as a nation.”
DIA is working alongside Fund Managers AMP Capital Ltd. to build the new Archives facility with construction partners, LT McGuiness.
The new Archives Building is expected to be open to the public in 2026.
The Tāhuhu: Preserving the Nation’s Memory (Tāhuhu) Programme grew out of a property review conducted by Te Tari Taiwhenua Internal Affairs. The review identified more than 60% of Archives and National Library buildings in the North Island are not fit-for-purpose. Archives New Zealand’s repository in Wellington has been full since 2017 and the National Library will be close to capacity by 2030.
As the official guardians of New Zealand’s documentary heritage and record of government, Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga Archives New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library of New Zealand hold irreplaceable taonga for the nation, valued at more than $1.5 billion and increasing.
Together, they hold more than 12 million items which include government records, publications, books, manuscripts, artwork, scientific data, images, films and much more. These physical records total over 271,000 linear metres (271km) and are continually growing.
In addition, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, who are partnering with the National Library and Archives New Zealand in the co-design and development of the new facility, cares for New Zealand’s most extensive public audio-visual collection containing 711,671 items in total.
The new NZ$290 million purpose-built national Archives facility will be situated at 2-12 Aitken Street, Wellington and comprise approximately 19,300 square metres of lettable area. The building has base isolation features enabling business continuity performance following a significant earthquake and it is anticipated to be one of New Zealand's most seismically resilient buildings on completion.
Construction is scheduled to take approximately three to four years, use 6500 tonnes of steel, 1.5 million hours of on-site labour and create 500 construction jobs. The new Archives building is expected to be open to the public in early 2026.
The land, 2-12 Aitken St is owned by Canadian Mutual Fund, PSPIB/CPPIB Waiheke Inc. with DIA residing as the long-term tenant. Archives New Zealand will take an initial 25-year lease on the building with multiple options to extend.