8 September 2020
Archives New Zealand, 10 Mulgrave Street, Wellington
Phone +64 499 5595
Official Information Act Request Reference OIA2021-0110
Thank you for your request for official information from Archives New Zealand.
You have asked:
1. Between year 1980 to 2020, did the Chief Archivist authorise in writing the
disposal/destruction of public records including source documents (RG27) and birth
notification (RG9) and if so why
The Chief Archivist authorises the disposal of public record through disposal authorities.
Disposal is a broad term that means the range of processes associated with implementing
records retention, destruction or transfer decisions, documented in disposal authorities.
A number of disposal authorities have been in place that cover Births, Deaths and Marriages
(BDM) records during the period 1980-2020.
• SR 98/94
superseded by OP 99/136
• OP 99/136
a delegated authority to transfer electoral records; expired 2002
current; expires December 2025
DA633 is the current disposal authority that covers BDM source records. BDM is a core
function of the Department of Internal Affairs. The class of records that covers BDM source
records is class DIA01 – Identity
. The relevant sub-class is DIA1.12 Birth and Name Change
. The disposal action for this sub-class is ‘Destroy 120 years from date of
A copy of the appraisal report and disposal schedule for DA633 is attached for your
reference. This can also be accessed through Archway
Kia pono ai te rua Mahara – Enabling trusted government information
Auckland Regional Office, 95 Richard Pearse Drive, Mangere, Auckland
Christchurch Regional Office, 15 Harvard Avenue, Wigram, Christchurch
Dunedin Regional Office, 556 George Street, Dunedin
Authorities OP 99/136 and DA24 can also be obtained through Archway by clicking on the
Disposal Authorities button on the homepage and entering the search term “births, deaths
and marriages” into the search bar.
BDM was a function of the Department of Justice from 1931 until the restructure in 1995,
where it was transferred back to the Department of Internal Affairs.
A directive from the Registrar-General in 1981 authorised the disposal of source documents
which were rarely if ever referred to and so were seen to be of no value. National Archives
job file SR 98/94 notes that the Registrar-General discussed this issue with Department of
Justice legal advisers and intended to raise it with National Archives, however there is no
record of the outcome of these discussions. An appraisal undertaken in 1985 noted that the
BDM Instructions for Registration manual permitted the destruction of some categories of
forms under section 3.5. There was no authority for this provided by the Chief Archivist.
From 1983, these Instructions specified retention periods to apply to the main source
documents. RG27 birth registration forms were to be kept for 60 years; RG27 death forms
for 5 years. Again, this was not a formal authorisation from the Chief Archivist.
The 1985 appraisal was noted as having generated useful information on BDM records but
was never taken beyond the first stage and so did not result in disposal recommendations or
any disposal authorisation at that time. A separate disposal authority for RG28 (Notification
of Death) and RG60 (Notice of Intention to Marry) forms only was granted in 1985 by the
Chief Archivist. The reasoning supplied is that al of the information present on those forms
was duplicated in the registers.
I am releasing to you a copy of the 1985 appraisal report, which provides more information
on the history of BDM records in New Zealand. This includes a copy of section 3.5 of the
BDM Instructions for Registration manual mentioned above.
2. Is public birth records and form documents considered protected records by any New
Zealand Act or Legislation
As public records, birth records and form documents are covered by the provisions of the
Public Records Act 2005 (PRA) and subsequently classed under the Department of Internal
Affairs’ disposal authority noted in response to question 1.
The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 sets out provisions
for the capture of births, deaths and marriages information in New Zealand. Section 4 of
that Act specifies that no information is to be recorded or altered except in accordance with
that Act. You can read the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act
1995 in full here:
Page 2 of 3
3. Is the New Zealand Department of Justice authorised to destroy public records
including source documents (RG27) and birth notification (RG9)
The Ministry of Justice was created in 1995 by the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act
1995. The Ministry has a number of current disposal authorities. These can be viewed
through Archway by entering the agency code ‘ABVP’ into the agency search field, and then
clicking on the ‘disposal authorities’ tab at the top.
Disposal Authority DA642 covers the core business functions of the Ministry. As the
registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages is not a core function of the Ministry, they are
not currently authorised to dispose of BDM source records.
When BDM functions were transferred back to the Department of Internal Affairs in 1995,
control over the records was returned to that Department.
4. Does Archives New Zealand hold source documents (RG27) and birth notification
(RG9) that otherwise would be held by the Department of Internal Affairs, Birth
Death and Marriages.
Archives New Zealand does not hold any source documents (RG9 or RG27) as public
archives. Our holdings do include a small number of BDM registers but access to these has
been restricted by the Registrar-General. Requests for access to these should be directed to
the Central Registry.
The complete registers of births, deaths and marriages are held by the Central Registry of
Births, Deaths and Marriages, Department of Internal Affairs. You should approach the
Registry first, particularly for Births and Deaths. Contact information can be found on their
Page 3 of 3
1985 Appraisal Report - BDM Source documents
BDM Instructions for Registration manual - Extract from National Archives Job File AT84/20
- OIA2021-0110 Documents for release.pdf