National Library of New Zealand

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National Library of New Zealand
Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
NLNZ ext 5.jpg
LocationMolesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand
Coordinates 41°16′36″S174°46′42″E / 41.276614°S 174.778372°E / -41.276614; 174.778372
Branch of Department of Internal Affairs
Size1,515,172 in General Collections
5,333,500 in Alexander Turnbull Library
Other information
BudgetNZ$31,850,000 (2006)
DirectorBill MacNaught (National Librarian)

The National Library of New Zealand (Māori : Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) is New Zealand's legal deposit library charged with the obligation to "enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations" (National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga) Act 2003). Under the Act, the library is also expected to be:

Māori language Polynesian language spoken by New Zealand Māori

Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. The number of copies varies and can range from one to 19. Typically, the national library is one of the repositories of these copies. In some countries there is also a legal deposit requirement placed on the government, and it is required to send copies of documents to publicly accessible libraries.


Taonga is a Māori Language word which refers to a treasured possession in Māori culture. Due to the lack of a direct translation to English and the significance of its use in the Treaty of Waitangi, the word has been widely adopted into New Zealand English as a loanword. The current definition differs from the historical definition, noted by Hongi Hika as "property procured by the spear" [one could understand this as war booty or defended property] and is now interpreted to mean a wide range of tangible and intangible possessions.

The library supports schools through its Services to Schools business unit, which has curriculum and advisory branches around New Zealand. The Legal Deposit Office is New Zealand's agency for ISBN and ISSN.

The library headquarters is close to the Parliament of New Zealand and the Court of Appeal on the corner of Aitken and Molesworth Streets, Wellington.

Wellington Capital city of New Zealand

Wellington is the capital and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 418,500 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. It is the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Wellington features a temperate maritime climate, and is the world's windiest city by average wind speed.


The lobby of the National Library National Library of New Zealand lobby.jpg
The lobby of the National Library

The National Library of New Zealand was formed in 1965 when the Alexander Turnbull Library, the General Assembly Library, and the National Library Service were brought together by the National Library Act (1965). In 1980, the Archive of New Zealand Music was established at the suggestion of New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn. In 1985, the General Assembly Library separated from the National Library and is now known as The Parliamentary Library. Staff and collections from 14 different sites around Wellington were centralised in a new National Library building, officially opened in August 1987. The architecture of the building is said to have been heavily influenced by design of the Boston City Hall., [1] but direct reference to the Birmingham Central Library should not be ruled out.

Douglas Gordon Lilburn was a New Zealand composer.

New Zealand Parliament Buildings house the New Zealand Parliament and are on a 45,000 square metre site at the northern end of Lambton Quay, Wellington. They consist of the Edwardian neoclassical-style Parliament House (1922); the Parliamentary Library (1899); the executive wing, called "The Beehive" (1977); and Bowen House, in use since 1991. Whilst most of the individual buildings are outstanding for different reasons, the overall setting that has been achieved "has little aesthetic or architectural coherence".

Boston City Hall city hall of Boston, Massachusetts since 1969

Boston City Hall is the seat of city government of Boston, Massachusetts. It includes the offices of the mayor of Boston and the Boston City Council. The current hall was built in 1968 to assume the functions of the Old City Hall.

In 1988, the National Library became an autonomous government department where previously it had been administered by the Department of Education. The same year, the Library took on the Maori name Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, which translated means: the wellspring of knowledge, of New Zealand. [2]

In early 1998 an ambitious $8.5 million computer project was scrapped. [3]

The National Library building was to be expanded and upgraded in 2009–2011, [4] but the incoming government greatly scaled down the scope of the work, reducing the budget for it and delaying the commencement, arguing concerns about the cost of the project and the reduction in the accessibility of collections and facilities during the construction work. [5] The building closed for two years, reopening in June 2012, while refurbishment continued. [6]

On 25 March 2010 the Minister of State Services announced that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand would be merged into the Department of Internal Affairs. [7]

In June 2018 a National Archival and Library Institutions Ministerial Group (NALI) was announced. [8] The purpose of NALI was to examine the structure and role of the National Library, Archives New Zealand and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, the position of the Chief Archivist and National Librarian, and the future of collecting, preserving and providing access to New Zealand's documentary heritage, particularly digital preservation and access. Before and since NALI was set up concern has been expressed about the National Library being part of the Department of Internal Affairs. [9]

He Tohu

The He Tohu exhibition in the Library is home to three nationally significant documents:

The documents were moved from Archives New Zealand on 22 April 2017 under tight security. [10]


Reading room at National Library [pre-2009], Wellington Wellington National Library 01.jpg
Reading room at National Library [pre-2009], Wellington

The National Library's collections are stored in the main building in Wellington and several other cities in New Zealand. The library has three main groups: the General Collections, the Schools Collection, and the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library. Access to many collections is provided through digital products and online resources.

The General Collections focus on supporting the information needs of New Zealanders through services to individuals, schools and researchers, with notable collections such as the Dorothy Neal White Collection. The Schools Collection contains books and other material to support teaching and learning in New Zealand schools.

Alexander Turnbull Library

The collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library are in the custody of the National Library and are normally held in its Wellington building. [11] Turnbull House, the library's former location in Bowen Street in downtown Wellington, is now managed by Heritage New Zealand. [12] It is named after Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull (1868–1918), whose bequest to the nation included the 55,000 volume nucleus of the current collection. It is charged under the Act to:

Turnbull collected the works of John Milton extensively, and the library now has holdings of Milton's works which are "ranked among the finest in the world" and "good collections of seventeenth-century poetical miscellanies and of Dryden material, ... along with fine sets of literary periodicals." [14]

The Friends of the Turnbull Library (FoTL) is an incorporated society that supports the work of the Alexander Turnbull Library by organising events, activities and offering an annual research grant to a scholars using the library’s resources.  FoTL also funds the publication of the Turnbull Library Record which publishes information about the activities of the library and showcases the Library’s collections.  First published in 1940, [15] digital issues of The Turnbull Library Record are available through Papers Past.

Turnbull Library Collections

The library houses a number of specialty collections:

The unpublished material held by the Turnbull Library can be searched in Tiaki.

Services to Schools

Books in the Schools Collection Schools Collection May 2007 2.JPG
Books in the Schools Collection

The National Library has been providing support to schools since 1942 and the current service operates from centres in Auckland and Christchurch. [16] Services to Schools has three priorities:

School libraries can keep up-to-date with research on school libraries, and gain advice on management, finance and staffing, collection management, library systems, and teaching and learning. Reading engagement encompasses advice on supporting children's reading and children's and young adults literature. Digital literacy supports the school library's role in developing digital literacy and inquiry learning. [18]

Other services include:

National Digital Heritage Archive

Established in 2004, the National Digital Heritage Archive is a partnership between the National Library, Ex Libris and Sun Microsystems to develop a digital archive and preservation management system. [19] A digital storehouse, the system ensures that websites, digital images, CDs, DVDs and other 'digitally born' and digitised items that make up the Library's growing digital heritage collections will, despite technical obsolescence, be preserved and remain accessible to researchers, students and library users now and in the future.

Papers Past

The Papers Past website, run by the National Library of New Zealand, provides free access to digitised newspapers, magazines, journals, letters, diaries, and parliamentary papers from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was launched in 2001. [20]

Index New Zealand

Index New Zealand (INNZ) is a free database of articles from journals, magazines and newspapers covering New Zealand and the South Pacific. [21]

National Librarians

Related Research Articles

Aotearoa is the Māori name for New Zealand. It was originally used by the Māori people in reference to only the North Island but, since the late 19th century, the word has come to refer to the country as a whole. Several meanings have been proposed for the name; the most popular meaning usually given is "long white cloud", or variations thereof. This refers to the cloud formations which helped early Polynesian navigators find the country.

Treaty of Waitangi Treaty between representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs

The Treaty of Waitangi is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and Māori chiefs (rangatira) from the North Island of New Zealand. It is a document of central importance to the history and political constitution of the state of New Zealand, and has been highly significant in framing the political relations between New Zealand's government and the Māori population.

Tino rangatiratanga

Tino rangatiratanga is a Māori language term that means 'Independence'. It appears in the Māori version of the Treaty of Waitangi, signed by the British Crown and Māori chiefs (rangatira) in 1840. It has become one of the most contentious phrases in retrospective analyses of the Treaty, amid debate surrounding the obligations agreed to by each signatory. The phrase features in current historical and political discourse on race relations in New Zealand, and is widely used by Māori advocacy groups. A flag based on tino rangatiratanga was designed in 1990, and has become accepted as a national flag for Māori groups across New Zealand.

Archives New Zealand is the National Archives of New Zealand, with responsibility for the record of government. This includes regulation of information management in the public sector, management of the national archival collection, and leadership of the archives sector. Since 1 February 2011 it has been part of the Department of Internal Affairs. Before 1 February 2011 Archives New Zealand was a separate government department.

Public sector organisations in New Zealand

Public sector organisations in New Zealand comprise the state sector organisations plus those of local government.

<i>The New Zealand Herald</i> newspaper

The New Zealand Herald is a daily newspaper published in Auckland, New Zealand, owned by New Zealand Media and Entertainment. It has the largest newspaper circulation of all newspapers in New Zealand, peaking at over 200,000 copies in 2006, although circulation of the daily Herald had declined to 115,213 copies on average by December 2017. Its main circulation area is the Auckland region. It is also delivered to much of the north of the North Island including Northland, Waikato and King Country.

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa national museum

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is New Zealand's national museum, located in Wellington. Known as Te Papa, or 'Our Place', it opened in 1998 after the merging of the National Museum and the National Art Gallery. More than 1.5 million people visit every year.

David Vernon Williams is a professor, and former Deputy Dean of the University of Auckland's Faculty of Law. He came from the Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand, and was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School.

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection digital library of New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials

The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection is a freely accessible online archive of New Zealand and Pacific Islands texts and heritage materials that are held by the Victoria University of Wellington Library. It was named the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre until October 2012.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is the operating name for The New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero. The archive was launched on 31 July 2014, following the completion of a three-year process whereby the New Zealand Film Archive "absorbed" the collections and operations of the RNZ Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero in 2012 and the Television New Zealand Archive in 2014.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage Ministry in New Zealand

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatū Taonga (MCH) is the public-service department of the New Zealand government charged with advising the government on policies and issues involving the arts, culture, built heritage, sport and recreation, and broadcasting sectors, and participating in functions that advance or promote those sectors.

Alexander Turnbull (bibliophile) New Zealand librarian

Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull was a New Zealand merchant, dandy and book collector. On his death, his collection became the nucleus of the Alexander Turnbull Collection, initially housed in his residence, Turnbull House, but as of 1987 housed with the collections of the National Library of New Zealand, a body formed in 1965 by the amalgamation of three libraries, including the one bearing Turnbull's name. In 1913, shortly before his death, Turnbull had presented his Māori and Pacific artefacts to the Dominion Museum.

Jessie Mackay New Zealand poet

Jessie Mackay was a New Zealand poet.

Sir "Sidney" Hirini Moko Haerewa Mead, is a New Zealand anthropologist, historian, artist, teacher, writer and prominent Māori leader. Initially training as a teacher and artist, Mead taught in many schools in the East Coast and Bay of Plenty regions, and later served as principal of several schools. After earning his PhD in 1968, he taught anthropology in several universities abroad. He returned to New Zealand in 1977 and established the first Māori studies department in the country. Mead later became a prominent Māori advocate and leader, acting in negotiations on behalf of several tribes and sitting on numerous advisory boards. He has also written extensively on Māori culture. He is currently the chair of the council of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Edward Marsh Williams was a missionary, interpreter, and judge who played a significant role in the British colonisation of New Zealand. He was the eldest son of Archdeacon Henry Williams and Marianne Williams.

Ngā Kaihanga Uku is a New Zealand collective of Māori Clayworkers. They formed in 1986 during a Ngā Puna Waihanga gathering, under the leadership of Baye Riddell and Manos Nathan. Founding members also include Paerau Corneal, Colleen Waata Urlich and Wi Taepa.

Kate Sperrey New Zealand artist (1862-1893)

Eleanor Catherine Sperrey, also known as Kate Sperrey, was a noted portraitist from New Zealand who flourished at the end of the nineteenth century. She painted portraits of many of the most noted statesmen of New Zealand and has works in the permanent collections of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Alexander Turnbull Library, Auckland Art Gallery, and the Whangarei Art Museum.

Janet Mary Riemenschneider-Kemp is a New Zealand poet, short story writer and public performer of her work. She lives in Kronberg im Taunus, Germany.

The NZSA Waitangi Day Literary Honours are awarded each year to one or more New Zealand writers. They are an initiative of the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa and were first given out in 2014.


  1. Catherall, Sarah (22 August 2009). "National Library: Bookworm heaven vs wow factor". The Dominion Post. p. D2.
  2. "Our history | About the Library | National Library of New Zealand". Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  3. Gifford, Adam (19 January 1999). "Library systems miss out on NZ technology". The New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  4. "$69m plan to extend National Library". Stuff. 26 May 2008.
  5. "Concern over plans for National Library". The Dominion Post. 10 February 2009. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012.
  6. Hunt, Tom (6 August 2012). "National Library re-opens to researchers". The Dominion Post. Fairfax NZ News. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  7. Beehive Press Release
  8. "National Archival and Library Institutions Ministerial Group –". Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  9. Gilling, Don (26 February 2019). "What's needed for the National Library, Turnbull and Archives". Wellington.Scoop. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  10. "Treaty of Waitangi moved to new Wellington home under cover of darkness". The Dominion Post. 22 April 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  11. "National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office . Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  12. "Historic Wellington buildings transfer" (Press release). New Zealand Department of Conservation. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  13. "Purposes of Alexander Turnbull Library". New Zealand Legislation. Parliamentary Counsel Office . Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  14. "Turnbull, Alexander Horsburgh". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Edited by A.H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
  15. Oliver, Fiona (4 September 2018). "The Turnbull Library Record: Past and Future". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  16. "Our work". National Library Services to Schools. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  17. Buchan, Jo (March 2018). "National Library's Services to Schools helping to create readers". Library Life. 465: 26.
  18. 1 2 "Services to Schools". National Library Services to Schools. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  19. "National Digital Heritage Archive". National Library of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  20. "About Papers Past". Papers Past. National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  21. "Index New Zealand indexes" (PDF). National Library. October 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  22. Millen, Julia (2010). Te Rau Herenga: a century of Library Life in Aotearoa 1910–2010. Wellington: LIANZA. p. 222. ISBN   9780473175795.
  23. "Our Leadership Group". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 9 May 2019.