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About Us

Our Purpose


We aim to preserve the stories that have helped to shape our communities and to make these accessible to New Zealanders both at home and abroad.


The overarching goal of our ‘Preserving Local Histories for our Tamariki: Mass Digitisation of Historical Community Newspapers’ project is to digitise, and make available, all historical newspapers (from 1840 to 2000) that are at risk of loss or decay. This will ensure that the stories and histories from diverse communities right across urban and rural New Zealand are preserved for current and future generations.   

We have commenced a multi-stage, multi-year project that seeks to preserve Aotearoa New Zealand’s written history for our tamariki and increase access to New Zealand’s cultural history.  


The Project

Preserving Local Histories For Our Tamariki - Mass Digitisation Of Historical Community Newspapers


Why Newspapers?

Newspapers are comprehensive records that capture local events, stories, and knowledge all about the tāngata, businesses, clubs, and organisations that build a community. Preserving a community’s history is crucial to understanding who we are, and our tūrangawaewae.  

A significant number of these newspapers are stored in poor conditions, often looked after by volunteer community groups. They are fragile documents, not easily accessed by the public and are deteriorating year after year. Without urgent preservation, these stories will be missing from our nation’s kōrero. 


Who Benefits?

The need has been identified within the library sector, community sector, by individuals, and at the Government level. It is also backed by the use statistics for newspapers that have already been digitised via the National Library’s Papers Past – one of our country’s most researched databases/websites. We have received many letters of endorsement that speak to why this mahi needs to be done and praise the work our Trust is undertaking and intends to do. 

At the Government level, there have been calls to increase our digital literacy, bring more things online, and reflect Aotearoa’s history in the education curriculum. The Government has acknowledged that fragile culture and heritage collections at risk of loss should be preserved and have made budget decisions to further these aims. COVID has exacerbated the problem. Creating an online resource re-opens access to our culture and heritage, and provides previously unavailable resources to schools and researchers. 

The expected outcomes are that the project will deliver a nationwide asset for current and future generations, in perpetuity, while supporting the heritage sector and the Government mandate to establish New Zealand history in the education system: the new Te Marautanga o Aotearoa framework and Te Takanga o Te Wā and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum. At the conclusion of the multi-year project, all historic newspapers at risk of loss (1840-2000) from around Aotearoa will be available for free to search online.

There are significant benefits for communities when we help them tell their stories and provide a wider view, and increased access, to our shared history. These benefits include:

  • Ensures the memory of local communities is preserved.

  • Unlocks knowledge and information about Iwi Māori and colonial settler history.

  • Increases representation and opens discourse about the stories that shaped our nation and provides a more balanced view of our collective, cultural history.

  • Facilitates research and supports a wider-ranging community of knowledge seekers including students, writers, genealogists, historians and researchers within and outside New Zealand.

  • Provides important and unique historic resources for the cultural industries, such as film and literature.

  • Provides smaller cultural and heritage societies and institutions access to digitisation capability.


Available on Papers Past

Digitisation not only enables preservation, it also gives voice to a range of communities that might otherwise be lost, opens online access, and provides new methods for discovering and reusing knowledge.

Following digitisation, these pages will be made accessible to the public, free, and online. In partnership with the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa; digitised pages will be available via Papers Past, the National Library’s digitised archive of historical documents.

Papers Past is a well-regarded and well-used resource that includes digital copies of over seven million pages of newspapers published since 1840. It offers an accessible way to search newspaper stories from Aotearoa New Zealand. The project will connect with the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA) administered by the National Library which digitally preserves a range of documentary heritage, including digitised newspapers.

Our project is wholly independent from, but complements, the current National Library Digitisation Plan.  The library’s plan focuses on digitising its own hard-copy newspaper collections and running the collaborative digitisation programme, and our project is outside the scope of the library’s digitisation plan and collections policy.

The Preserving Local History and Educational Trust was awarded Lottery Environment and Heritage funding in early 2022 for phase one of the project which is currently underway.

Using the Lottery Environment and Heritage funding, in phase one we are underway digitally preserving 200,000 pages of community newspapers including:

  •  The Ruapehu Bulletin (1987-2000)

  •  The Taupō Times (1958-1990)

  • The Marlborough Express (1921-1943)

This involves working closely with heritage colleagues at Ruapehu Media Ltd., Taupō Museum and Art Gallery, and The Marlborough Museum and Historical Society.

These titles were identified by connections of our Trustees, and researched by our expert advisor, researcher and historian Dr Ross Harvey, and also by the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Assistant Curator, Newspapers and Serials. This work is ongoing, and we are unearthing more titles to be digitised and preserved.

Make sure you get in touch with us if there is a particular newspaper title you would like to request to have digitised and uploaded to Papers Past.