New Zealand's most significant and valuable documents will soon get a new home with plans for a new archives facility announced today.
Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said in a statement the new facility will improve protection of the items.
It would also solve the issues with the existing archives building by creating a new facility that connects to the National Library, she said.
"We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a national documentary heritage campus. Together, Archives and the National Library are the stewards of our nation’s irreplaceable taonga, such as the Treaty of Waitangi and the Women’s Suffrage Petition."
The collections are valued in excess of $1.7 billion and growing.
Ms Martin said that Archives NZ, through the Department of Internal Affairs, had been seeking funding to deal with problems with the current Wellington building for several years. Archives stopped taking transfers of documents to the building in 2017.
"The Wellington Archives building is over 50 years old and is at the end of its functional life," she said. "The building is full to capacity, has had leaks and requires significant upgrades, including seismic strengthening, which are uneconomic."
Announced in this year's Budget, $25.48 million over two years will be used to progress the design and resource consent planning for the new Archives Wellington building. An additional $9.623 million over four years will also support the redevelopment of its archival management system, which is the core document tracking system for users to access archives.
Funding also allows planning to progress for a new regional storage repository which will replace aging regional facilities and provide additional storage capacity for Archives and the National Library, Ms Martin said.
"Having our documentary heritage stored safely in modern facilities, and our National Library and Archives New Zealand physically connected by an air-bridge will give our unique documented history the place it deserves," she said.
"This connection provides an opportunity for these two institutions to work even more collaboratively, in a campus-like situation helping us to pass on our culture, stories, traditions and heritage to future generations."
The Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, which manages nearly one million audio-visual collection items, may also be included.
"Our documentary heritage and taonga provides real value and insight to New Zealanders, increasing our sense of national and cultural identity.
"We need to preserve this history for our future generations and this new funding and project is a major step to ensuring this happens."