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UNESCO recognition for two heritage collections at Auckland Libraries

Published: 29 November 2017

Auckland Libraries’ John A. Lee Collection and J. T. Diamond Collection have been inscribed onto the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register at an event in the Central City Library.

This recognition highlights the significance of these collections and the work that Auckland Libraries do to protect and preserve our local history.

The John A. Lee and J. T. Diamond collections are among seven new inscriptions from across New Zealand that were measured against rigorous criteria to be selected for this prestigious honour.

Councillor Cathy Casey, Chair of the Community Development and Safety Committee for Auckland Council, is delighted to see the collections recognised as being of national significance and inscribed on the register.

John A. Lee collection

John Alexander Lee was a dynamic and outspoken member of the first New Zealand Labour government and advocate for social justice. The Auckland Libraries John A. Lee Collection of his personal papers covers every aspect of his eventful life as a war hero, politician, champion of the working class, novelist, correspondent and friend to other writers.

“This collection occupies a significant place in New Zealand’s history as very few personal archives survive from the first half of the 20th century. It is rich with political papers from the inter-war years, capturing both social and political insights and a crucial period in the development of social welfare programmes,” Councillor Casey says.

J. T. Diamond collection

The J.T Diamond Collection comprises John (Jack) Thomas Diamond’s meticulous research and documentation of West Auckland’s history that he compiled over 60 years from the 1930’s.

The collection documents many local industries and locations that have since disappeared or altered significantly and includes detailed and unique archival records of the first two generations of colonial settlement in New Zealand.

The collection is made up of manuscript material, extensive photographs, plans and site records including Diamond’s notebooks which describe the exact location and details of his photographic record of the West. These photographs continue to be used in publications and are widely referenced by local and regional government authorities, historians and national heritage organisations.

See the collections

Head along to the Central City Library and Henderson Library to see displays from the John A. Lee and J.T Diamond collections or access digitised items at Heritage Images.  

Other inscriptions on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register announced today were:

  • New Zealand Official Photographs, World War 1914-1918 (Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington).
  • Kaleidoscope – a weekly television arts documentary programme 1976-1989 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Wellington).
  • Ng New Zealand Chinese Heritage Collection (Presbyterian Research Centre, Dunedin).
  • Salmond Anderson Architects Records (University of Otago’s Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, Dunedin).
  • Tyree Studio Collection (Nelson Provincial Museum and Alexander Turnbull Library).

The seven new inscriptions join the 20 existing inscriptions on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register; Auckland Libraries’ Grey New Zealand Māori Manuscript collection and the God Defend New Zealand Original Score and Lyrics were added to the register in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

Read more: Libraries Heritage

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