And just saw this reponse to a recent OIA request:
From my reading of the documents, The License to Occupy, read in conjunction with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Nga Taonga defines the “Archive Collection” held at the Avalon facility as the Television New Zealand Archive.
It does not identify other collections held by Nga Taonga, namely the 50,000+ physical items in the Sound Archives collection currently in Christchurch nor the Film Archive collections in Wellington.
Additionally the “Memorandum of Understanding – Access to the TVNZ Archive Collection” between the Ministry and DIA, states that DIA grants access to the Avalon facility to the Ministry [who in turn grants it to Nga Taonga] to preserve and manage the [TVNZ] Archive Collection, and that the fixtures and equipment at Avalon are to be used in connection with reasonable use of the [TVNZ] Archive Collection, again with no mention of using the facilities for housing or working on other collections.
I do not see any requests from Nga Taonga to the Ministry or DIA in the released documents to use the Avalon facility for the permanent housing of non-TVNZ collections, so this confirms to me that Nga Taonga HAS NOT requested, nor been given consent from the Ministry or DIA to permanently use the Avalon facility for non TVNZ Archive related activities.
I also note that in the License to Occupy, Nga Taonga – as Archive Manager – may only undertake “minor activities” (such as painting a wall) without the consent of DIA.
The absence of any requests from Nga Taonga in the released OIA documents says to me that the Ministry and DIA are completely unaware of Nga Taonga’s plan to relocate thousands of physical non TVNZ items from Christchurch and Auckland to the Avalon facility, that you have no knowledge of the relocation of staff to Avalon (to work on non TVNZ material) and that you have no knowledge of the proposed construction of new spaces at the Avalon facility to undertake non TVNZ activities.
So word around town is that the Sound Archive is currently being decimated by Nga Taonga's management...multiple people have left through redundancy or just being disestablished and not applying for new roles.. There goes the institutional knowledge of what's in the collection and where it came from...
Apparently radio broadcasts haven't been accessioned since December (the last RNZ broadcast I could find in their online catalog was 30/9/16)... Luckily nothing has really happened over the last couple of months that's been newsworthy or will be wanted in 50 years time.
And in other news, a couple of OIA requests have been answered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.. It appears MCH don't (and haven't requested) a list of the 20,000 titles that Nga Taonga was supposed to be digitizing and making available to the public online (thanks to a cash injection by Minister Craig Foss back in 2014) ..So even though there's a clause in the Memorandum of Understanding with MCH that states 3,000 TVNZ titles should be on the internet by now, no one in authority seems to be asking: what are the titles and where are they available online...
Luckily Nga Taonga's MoU with the Ministry expires on 30 June this year .. SO now is a good time for those of us who are concerned about preservation and access to our audiovisual heritage to start asking Minister Maggie Barry some questions
Dear Aunt Daisy,
I fondly Googled “Aunt Daisy” yesterday thinking I would take a stroll down memory lane and was instead very surprised to discover the turmoil that has engulfed our national audiovisual archive (formerly RNZ Sound Archives).
Then to my shock I discovered a large bundle of correspondence that has recently been released via an Official Information Act (OIA) request to Archives NZ in relation to Nga Taonga’s recent failed accommodation project with DIA/Archives NZ (link at bottom of post).
The co-location project, which I believe began in 2014, would have seen the two archives move into a new state-of-the-art, purpose built facility in Wigram, Christchurch. The project is funded in part through the government’s Future Investment Fund.
“The Archives project is good news for the people of Christchurch and a clear signal of the Government’s intent to keep the Christchurch rebuild on-track,” Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said in a May 2015 press release.
But given that this relocation project went so OFF-track recently with Nga Taonga pulling out, I’m seeking reassurance, Aunt Daisy, that Nga Taonga’s new plan of moving the entire historic and fragile Sound Archives collection from both Auckland and Christchurch locations to Wellington has been well thought through.
For example, the Wigram project ran for two years (late 2014-2016), but it appears from the recently released documents that Nga Taonga management allegedly began "pleading poverty" only 10 days [OIA pdf-3, p.85, 12/9/16] before they pulled the plug on the project on the 21 September 2016 [OIA pdf-3, p.86]. (It’s interesting to note that Nga Taonga gets around $6.5 million dollars of taxpayers money per year).
I read in the same document that Nga Taonga management allegedly agreed "that the per sqm [square metre] rate was within the ballpark of what they had been lead to expect." I also know that years ago the funding for Sound Archives was ring-fenced: take a look at the old RNZ annual reports, and in the 2013/2014 Nga Taonga annual report you’ll see there was $1 million allotted for “radio” by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. But not anymore. (And I believe Sound Archives has a very small staff – around seven employees).
Reading the OIA documents I see that over the last two years Nga Taonga did get into the nitty-gritty of designing the Wigram space with very specific office, vault and studio requirements, and actually asked Archives NZ in August 2015 for more vault room (disadvantaging other collecting institutions who wanted to be part of the Archives NZ development). So I just can’t understand why the financial side of the collaboration subsequently came as such a surprise and shock to Nga Taonga management.
Interestingly when you look back through the Nga Taonga Board of Trustees reports, it appears the Board was exploring accommodation options from late 2015. And in July 2016 they were presented with a “discussion paper” from an external consultant which resulted in the Board recognizing “that accommodation is a pan-organisational issue, rather than just Wellington, with impacts on both Christchurch and Auckland, and a long-term strategic, reputational and relationship issue.”
When I read some of the OIA documents I do wonder about the “reputational” and “relationship” aspects of this failed project. For example, when the project was beginning to come off-the-tracks at the end of August 2016:
Email from Chris [last name redacted]: “At this stage of the game it could seem as if we are being held over a barrel, which does not seem to fit with the collaborative spirit we were hoping for. They [Nga Taonga] were the ones who decided to stay only for 10 years, so I don’t think they can complain about ‘security of tenure’. I don’t know whether they are looking for a cheaper deal, or an‘out’.” [OIA pdf-3, p.67, 26/8/16]
Email from [name redacted], Senior Project Manager: “Thank you all for completing your design by the due date, which is gratefully appreciated. I have since received a call [that Nga Taonga] have pulled out, leaving DIA as the sole occupants of the building. There was a lot of effort put into the design to accommodate [Nga Taonga] which does have a cost implication.” [OIA pdf-3, p.86, 21/9/16]
However just a month earlier Nga Taonga’s Chief Executive, allegedly advised the Manager, Strategy and Operational Services at Archives NZ “that [Archives NZ] should still consider [Nga Taonga] in [on the project] and proceed on that basis for now.” This was noted in an email by the Manager recounting the meeting [OIA pdf-3, p.46, 2/8/16]
The Manager also noted “Worryingly [the Chief Executive] advised that the political pressure to have their sound archives in Christchurch has been removed so they are not wedded to keeping what is in Christchurch in that region.”
This alleged sentiment expressed privately by the Chief Executive runs counter to Nga Taonga’s Strategic Plan (2016-2024) released to the public 3-weeks earlier (12/7/16) which states “We are committed to remaining in Christchurch as part of the Canterbury recovery. As a result, we have a strong focus on ensuring that we can safely house our staff and our collections, in fit-for-purpose accommodation that represents good value for money”. [Strategic Plan 2016-2024, p.8]
An accompanying document released at the same time notes the Minister’s expectations for “co-location with Archives NZ in Christchurch”. [Four Year Plan 2016-2020, p.8]
I am also disturbed, Aunt Daisy, that relocating the Sound Archives collection out of Christchurch was being freely discussed with external parties well before Nga Taonga staff were presented on 7 November 2016 with a major organisational restructuring proposal (as noted on the Public Address website). The restructuring proposal would see the closure of the Auckland and Christchurch sites and see all sound collections moved to the Wellington region.
Nga Taonga’s Chief Executive was already flagging at the end of September to Archives NZ “significant implications for our Christchurch based employees” as a result of Nga Taonga withdrawing from the Wigram project [OIA pdf-3, p.98, 30/9/16].
Most of the restructuring proposal was eventually confirmed on 8 December 2016 and the historic sound collections will now be moved to the Wellington region.
Aunt Daisy, I don’t understand why the Ministry for Culture and Heritage - as principal funder of Nga Taonga - and Minister Maggie Barry aren’t publicly seeking answers and assurances from the management and Board of Nga Taonga regarding the plan to remove the sound collections from Christchurch and Auckland.
Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne should also be asking whether the new Archives NZ facility in Wigram is now in jeopardy following the snap withdrawal of Nga Taonga (and with it, the ongoing money it would have contributed to the project).
Finally, I would like to leave you with another quote from Nga Taonga’s glossy Four Year Plan:
“We [Nga Taonga] have an enormous ability – even a responsibility – to connect people with each other and with their taonga. This can only happen when we are open, transparent, and treat taonga and people with dignity, respect and generosity. We build and nurture relationships, enhancing the mana of all. Through collaboration, sharing our knowledge and expertise, and embracing feedback and criticism as an opportunity to become even better, we become a trusted and valued partner.” [Four Year Plan 2016-2020, p.5]
I look forward to hearing your thoughts,
OIA request (and documents) - https://fyi.org.nz/request/4909-archival-storage-facility-in-wigram
Archives NZ to rebuild in Christchurch - http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1505/S00398/archives-new-zealand-to-rebuild-christchurch-facility.htm
Nga Taonga corporate publications: http://www.ngataonga.org.nz/about/corporate-information
Nga Taonga Board reports: http://www.ngataonga.org.nz/about/governance/board-reports
RNZ corporate publications: http://www.radionz.co.nz/about/documents