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National Archival and Library Institutions
NALI Ministerial Group
Karen Adair, Group Manager, Policy and Sector Performance,
Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Marilyn Little, Deputy Chief Executive, Policy Regulation and
Communities, the Department of Internal Affairs
Date of meeting
Meeting 2: 25 June 2018
Chal enges and opportunities for Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Purpose of this paper
This paper supplements the current state information about Ngā Taonga Sound &
Vision (Ngā Taonga) in Paper 2 for the NALI Ministerial Group meeting of 28 May
It provides more information about current chal enges and opportunities for
Ngā Taonga, focusing on property, access and preservation. It also considers briefly
some opportunities for collaboration with other organisations.
Ngā Taonga was formed in 2014 as a result of the amalgamation of three collections:
the New Zealand Film Archive, Radio New Zealand’s Sound Archives Ngā Taonga
Kōrero (RNZ Archive) and the Television New Zealand Archive (TVNZ Archive). The
amalgamation of these collections has left Ngā Taonga with a diverse property
portfolio to manage, and with a legacy of different databases and systems. The size of
Ngā Taonga’s collection is also significantly larger than that held by its predecessor, the
New Zealand Film Archive. In addition, Ngā Taonga faces challenges in common with
other archival organisations of preserving and providing access to items in a wide
range of formats, including some that are obsolete or very fragile.
1 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.
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Current property portfolio
Ngā Taonga has been consolidating its property portfolio, and is seeking to consolidate
further. At present, Ngā Taonga is using the fol owing properties:
a) a head office, shopfront (including a cinema) and storage facility in Taranaki
Street, central Wellington;
b) vaults at Avalon, Lower Hutt, where the TVNZ and RNZ Archives are stored;
c) storage vaults at Titahi Bay and Plimmerton, near Porirua;
d) storage for documentation and corporate records at Buckle Street, Wel ington;
e) satellite offices in central Auckland, and Addington, Christchurch.
Ngā Taonga formerly owned its Taranaki Street premises, but sold this property in April
2018. Ngā Taonga considers the property is no longer fit for purpose because:
a) it is earthquake-prone (below 34 per cent of the New Building Standard) and is
also within the tsunami self-evacuation zone; and
b) Ngā Taonga’s collection has outgrown the storage space in the Taranaki Street
As an interim measure, Ngā Taonga is leasing the Taranaki Street building, but this is
not sustainable in the long term. The current lease ends in April 2021, but Ngā Taonga
could be required to leave as early as April 2020. Ngā Taonga’s Board considers
prolonged occupation of an earthquake-prone building to be highly unsatisfactory,
both for staff and for col ections. Official
The Avalon storage facility is currently owned by the Department of Internal Affairs,
which grants access to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH). MCH, in turn,
grants a licence to occupy the facility to Ngā Taonga as the manager, on MCH’s behalf,
of the TVNZ Archive. No rent is paid for the Avalon lease, but Ngā Taonga pays an
annual fee of $275,000 for power and other costs associated with the facility.
Relocation and consolidation opti
Ngā Taonga has already reduced its property footprint from seven to five storage
facilities, plus two satel ite offices. It is now seeking to meet the twin objectives of
further property consolidation and relocation from the Taranaki Street building. Ngā
Taonga has until April 2021, at the latest, to leave the Taranaki Street building, but will
need to identify and secure an alternative much sooner than that date.
Ngā Taonga has been exploring two main options for relocating its head office and
collections currently housed in Taranaki Street. Both of these options would require
additional funding, as the income from selling the Taranaki Street property will not
fully cover the costs of establishing new premises, building vaults and maintaining
service levels. Ngā Taonga does not have significant reserves set aside for major capital
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The first option is to expand its footprint at the Avalon site by building more offices
and vault space for the people and collections relocating from Taranaki Street. Work
would also be required to mitigate the flood risk from the nearby Hutt River.
13. Regardless of the location chosen for Ngā Taonga’s headquarters and storage facility, it
would still want to maintain a venue in central Wel ington for public access to Ngā
15. Ngā Taonga is keen to improve the discoverability of and access to material in its
collections. Obstacles to this objective include:
a) Ngā Taonga’s ageing ICT infrastructure and multiple databases inherited from
its constituent col ections; and
b) lack of sufficient resourcing to preserve, catalogue, clear rights, digitise and put
online more than a small percentage of its collection.
16. In addition to investing in the ICT infrastructure that supports its core business, Ngā
Taonga has identified that by investing in scalable solutions, there is significant
potential to offer cost-effective audiovisual ICT solutions to key industry, community
and iwi groups (for example, TVNZ, RNZ, programme makers, regional and iwi archives,
and schools). Such solutions could:
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a) make archiving new, born digital material more straightforward and cost-
b) provide access to col ections in ways that foster innovation.
Current funding discussions
19. MCH currently provides Ngā Taonga with annual funding of $5.02 million, consisting of:
a) $3.02 million in general operational funding (including archiving of the RNZ
b) $2 million for managing the TVNZ Archive.
20. The RNZ Archive was absorbed by the then New Zealand Film Archive in 2012. This
added an additional 110,000 items to the existing col ection of 265,000 items. The Film
Archive received a one-off payment of $1 million for digitisation of the RNZ Archive
col ection, and ongoing annual funding of $0.79 million for managing the RNZ Archive.
21. The incorporation of the TVNZ Archive more than doubled the size of Ngā Taonga’s
col ection, adding a further 435,000 items. Ngā Taonga received additional funding of
$2 million annually for manag
under ing the TVNZ Archive. In addition, significant
expectations of increased public access to the TVNZ col ection were created. Ngā
Taonga now has a collection of some 800,000 items, and funding per item has
decreased from $15 to $8.70.
22. It is normal for audiovisual archives to have backlogs of archival work to be
undertaken. However, the scale of backlogs resulting from the addition of two major
broadcast col ections, along with the rapid advance of audiovisual technology and the
obsolescence of critical equipment, mean that Ngā Taonga is struggling with the
amount of work required simply to perform its key functions as an archive. This creates
significant inefficiencies in the delivery of services to clients, including access to
col ections. Ngā Taonga is currently sizing and quantifying its archival backlogs so that
it is well placed to articulate the scale of the tasks involved.
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23. MCH has agreed to review the funding contract with Ngā Taonga over the second half
of 2018, to ensure that the price settings and targets for digitisation and online access
are correct. A particular issue is that Ngā Taonga considers that government funding
for managing the TVNZ Archive is not consistent with the scale of the increase in Ngā
Taonga’s col ection, or with the government’s expectations of the level of digitisation
of and online access to content from the TVNZ Archive.
24. Ngā Taonga faces challenges in preserving its collection across a range of formats.
However, a particularly pressing challenge is preservation of the Betacam collection
from the TVNZ Archive.
Betacam col ection: the issue
25. About 25 per cent of the TVNZ Archive (around 200,000 tapes) is on a 1980s v
format called Betacam, and is at risk of being lost. This content is owned by the Crown
and managed by Ngā Taonga.
26. Betacam tape was used by TVNZ from the 1980s until the late 2000s. The Betacam
material in the TVNZ Archive includes television programmes such as Radio with
Pictures, Country Calendar, Tagata Pasifika, Back Benches and What Now. It also
includes documentaries, news footage, music videos and coverage of sporting events
such as the Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup tournaments.
27. The col ection is at high risk of being lost because Betacam equipment is no longer
manufactured and Sony (the format owner) will not be providing technical or service
support after 2023. This is a global issue and it is estimated that only 30 per cent of
Betacam content worldwide will be saved.
28. Despite being housed in climate-controlled vaults, the tapes will naturally degrade
over time. In the opinion of expert archivists, the tapes must be digitised within the
next five to eight years or the content on them wil be lost. Ngā Taonga’s ability to
access suitable equipment (in competition with other archives, television stations and
production companies) wil have the greatest effect on this timeline.
29. The cost, size and urgency of this digitisation work means that Ngā Taonga cannot
afford to carry it out within its baseline funding.
Betacam collection: the proposal
30. Ngā Taonga has conducted a feasibility study and determined that the most effective
and cost-efficient method of digitising the col ection would be to outsource much of
the work to an international supplier with specialised automated processes. The
content stored on the Betacam tape collection would be copied to a duplicated digital
file format, meaning that nationally-important news, documentaries, much-loved
television shows and significant taonga Māori would be saved for both current users
and future generations.
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Opportunities for collaboration
32. With sufficient and sustainable funding, there are opportunities for Ngā Taonga’s
col ections to be stored and preserved in accordance with international standards, and
to become more accessible onsite in Wellington or in regional hub facilities, as well as
33. Ngā Taonga can also benefit from collaboration with other organisations to meet
chal enges and take advantage of opportunities. These organisations could include:
a) other archival and library institutions, such as Archives New Zealand (Archives)
and the National Library of New Zealand (the National Library);Act
b) other heritage organisations, such as Te Papa and Heritage New Zealand; and
c) other broadcasting and screen sector organisations, such as the New Zealand
Film Commission and New Zealand On Air.
34. It is worth noting that the other two organisations that are part of the NALI Ministerial
Group’s work plan, Archives and the National Library, also have audiovisual collections
that present storage and preservation challenges that are shared by Ngā Taonga. The
Ministerial Group could consider opportunities to increase efficiency and cost
effectiveness of archival efforts across the audiovisual collections of Ngā Taonga,
Archives and National Library.
35. Paper 2 for the 25 June 2018 NALI Ministerial Group meeting discusses the possibility
of Ngā Taonga sharing the new facilities propose
Official d as part of the Department of
Internal Affairs’ Preserving the Nation’s Memory business case. It should be noted,
however, that the option of including
the Ngā Taonga in this proposal has not yet been
investigated, and the proposal’s timeframes mean that it would not solve Ngā
Taonga’s immediate property needs.
36. Col aboration could be pursued in relation to each of the chal enges identified above:
Ngā Taonga might be able to share space with other organisations,
including repository space for collection storage, back-of-house facilities for
technical work such as conservation and digitisation, or spaces for public access
to and engagement with col ections.
Ngā Taonga seeks to make its own collection more accessible and
searchable online, and this aim could be extended to create digital archival
infrastructure for the broader screen sector (allowing, for example, film makers
or broadcasters to archive material in real time). As Ngā Taonga’s collection
becomes increasingly digitised, it could also be linked to other digitised
collections in the wider archival and heritage sectors.
As noted above, Archives and the National Library also have
audiovisual collections, as do other institutions (for example, Te Papa). Such
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materials require specialised preservation expertise and equipment, which
could be shared between organisations.
37. Some collaboration can occur within existing baselines, while more ambitious projects
(such as shared digital infrastructure) would require new funding.
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