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About New Zealand Memory of the World

The New Zealand Memory of the World Programme is one of over 60 Memory of the World programmes worldwide. It was established in 2010 by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO. The New Zealand Committee’s members have a broad knowledge of New Zealand’s heritage institutions and communities.

The New Zealand programme aims to:

  • develop the New Zealand Memory of the World Register
  • propose nominations to the Memory of the World International Register
  • participate in selected heritage activities and be an advocate for the documentary heritage sector.

The New Zealand Memory of the World Programme operates within the regional framework of MOWCAP, the Memory of the World Committee for Asia/Pacific.

We would like to thank the UNESCO Australia MOW Programme for the assistance they gave their NZ colleagues in setting up the UNESCO NZ MOW programme.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World programme in 1992. Memory of the World aims to recognise significant documentary heritage similarly to the way UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention and World Heritage List recognises significant natural and cultural sites.

The vision of the Memory of the World programme is that the world’s documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.

The International Memory of the World Register, administered by UNESCO, seeks to identify items of documentary heritage which have worldwide significance. It aims to bring the value and significance of documentary heritage to wider public notice, along with the work performed by libraries, archives and museums in preserving this valuable heritage. The specific objectives of the Memory of the World Programme are:

  • To facilitate preservation by the most appropriate techniques of the world’s documentary heritage
  • To assist universal access to documentary heritage
  • To increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of documentary heritage

Read more on the UNESCO website.


  • Bruce Ralston
  • Donal Raethel
  • Jane Wild
  • David Reeves
  • Sarah Davy
  • Polly Martin
  • Joanna Condon
  • John Sullivan
  • Charlotte Macdonald

Bruce Ralston is Chair of the UNESCO Memory of the World, New Zealand, Committee. Formerly a library manager and archivist, he now works from Waihi on a range of editing and archival projects, and is Editor of The New Zealand Genealogist. He commenced his involvement with documentary heritage as a genealogical record agent at the Scottish Records Office, and developed his knowledge and skills as a manuscripts librarian and editor of the National Register of Archives and Manuscripts at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Later, as manager of the Auckland Museum Library he worked on mechanisms to make better online descriptions and access to the extensive documentary heritage resources. Some of these items now appear in the Memory of the World New Zealand Register.

Bruce is Chair of the Ted Gilberd Literary Trust, established to assist writing and publishing family history. More recently he has become active in upskilling genealogists to find ways to convert their research and knowledge into narrative or other recorded formats.

Donal is a Senior Archivist at Archives New Zealand. His first career as a horticulturalist took him through much of New Zealand and Australia. His keen interest in history and heritage landscapes lead to studies at The Northern Territory University, now Charles Darwin University, focusing on the histories of South East Asia and northern Australia. This was followed by a Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies from Melbourne’s Deakin University.

In 2002 he joined the Darwin office of the National Archives of Australia. Particularly rewarding was making records available to Aboriginal ‘Stolen Generations’ researchers seeking contact with their families and communities. Donal joined Archives New Zealand in 2008 as research archivist and outreach/tours coordinator, bringing him into close contact with 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition and The Treaty of Waitangi – both inscribed on the Memory of the World Register. Here too the reward is in making records known and available – records of universal value or purely personal significance.

Jane Wild is a documentary heritage specialist, currently the Heritage Collections Manager at Auckland Libraries, with responsibility for the Sir George Grey Special Collections and three distributed special collections. Jane was the Alexander Turnbull Library’s inaugural editor of the ‘National Register of Archives & Manuscripts’, now the Community Archive.

Jane has managed academic, special and research libraries – from 1999–2011 she managed the three Creative Arts & Industries libraries at the University of Auckland. This included the Architecture Archive and the Elam Archive in addition to the University Library’s Special Collections.

David is the Director Collections and Research, Auckland Museum. He joined the Museum in January 2011 after a time at the Alexander Turnbull Library as Associate Chief Librarian, Research Access. David’s career also includes roles at the Auckland Art Gallery and at Te Papa managing logistics, storage and documentation of collections. David brings a range of perspectives on the activities of Libraries, Museums, Galleries and Archives, with a particular interest in how they are responding to and utilising the digital environment.

David is also experienced in Museum building design and has been involved in a number of building re-developments and collection relocation projects. He holds a Bachelor of Building Science from Victoria University of Wellington and Diplomas in Professional Photography and Museum Studies.

Sarah is the General Manager, Information Services: Poutakinga Rōpū Ratonga Kawe Kōrero, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

Ko Tararua te paepae maungaroa
Ko Horowhenua te whenua nui
Ko Tainui te waka ekenga
Ko Waikawa raua ko Manakau nga awa tere
Ko Kukukohatu te whenua
Ko Raukawa Te Au ki Te Tonga te iwi Whanui
Ko Ngāti Wehi Wehi te iwi


Polly Martin was nominated to the committee by Te Rōpū Whakahau, the leading national body that represents Māori engaged in Libraries, Culture, Knowledge, Information, Communication and Systems Technology in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is currently on the Archives New Zealand Leadership Team and holds the role of Pouarahi or Director Holdings and Discovery at Archives New Zealand. She has responsibility for the preservation of and access to the public archives of government.

Joanna is the Macmillan Brown Library & Heritage Collections Manager at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.

Since 2011 John has been the Leader of the Curatorial Services Team at the Alexander Turnbull Library. He grew up in Wellington, and has lived in the Aro Valley for the past 33 years. He attended Auckland University and for 36 years managed the photographic collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library, first as Photograph Librarian, and then as Curator, Photographic Archive.

Charlotte is a Professor of History at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi. With a Marsden Grant awarded in 2014 Charlotte has worked with colleagues to produce the Soldiers of Empire database which provides searchable public access to the names, regiments and dates of service of soldiers who fought in the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s.

Contact us

If you have any queries please get in touch.

Bruce Ralston

P O Box 62, Waihi 3641
New Zealand

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Because today is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldaudiovisualday we'd especially like to acknowledge @ngataongasv and their inscriptions on the Register – https://unescomow.nz/new-zealand-register?search=taonga

Yesterday was Katherine Mansfield's birthday. Born in 1888, Wellington. Died 1923, Fontainebleau, France. Her Literary and Personal Papers, held in the Alexander Turnbull Library, are number 17 on the Register.

Congratulations to the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand Recollect Archive on their new website https://pcanzarchives.recollect.co.nz PCANZ holds Register number 26 – Ng New Zealand Chinese Heritage Collection https://unescomow.nz/inscription/ng-new-zealand-chinese-heritage-collection#unescomemories #UNESCO #archivesnz