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Digitising Auckland's earliest newspapers

Published: 23 August 2018

Over the past year Auckland War Memorial Museum has worked with The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, Auckland Libraries, and The Hocken Collections to digitise three of Auckland’s earliest newspapers.

The papers are some of the first to exist in Aotearoa New Zealand and are a great representation of the country’s early history and colonial life. The papers are historically significant, having started just after the Government moved to Auckland from Russell in the 1840s.

Three newspapers now available online

The three newspapers (New Zealand Herald and Auckland Gazette, The Auckland Chronicle and New Zealand Colonist, The Auckland Times) are now available on The National Library’s Paper’s Past website, a key resource for researchers both nationally and internationally.

“We were thrilled that our partner institutions agreed to this collaborative approach. These newspapers provide greater insight into events and personalities in Tāmaki Makaurau at that time,” says Paula Legel, Collection Manager Serials & Acquisitions, Information & Library Services, Auckland War Memorial Museum.

“The National Library of New Zealand welcomes this collaboration with our colleagues to make these rare historic titles more widely available,’’ says Bill Macnaught, National Librarian.

The partnership was begun because none of the organizations held a complete set of the papers, and is a great example of increased collaboration and knowledge sharing within the cultural sector.

The institutions shared the workload, by digitising their copies of the newspapers and then sending the files to the National Library who collated the work and managed the rest of the digitisation process.

This process was established because the newspapers were too fragile to be transported. Without the collaboration of the organisations, these key papers would not be available online.

“We are delighted to have been involved. With our collective efforts the research value contained in these titles is now available to all with a simple search,” says Bridget Simpson, Librarian Newspapers & Serials, Heritage Collections at Auckland Libraries.

"We are very happy to have supported this great initiative by using the unique issues we have at the Hocken in Dunedin. This collaboration has ensured that all the issues of these papers are now available digitally to researchers in New Zealand and around the world," says Peter Sime, Head Curator Publications, Uare Taoka o Hākena – Hocken Collections.

Papers Past

Partnerships such as this are an important way for the National Library to expand the range of material on Papers Past, and to ensure material is included from across New Zealand. The Library offers an annual collaborative programme as well as other multi-year partnerships. Previously the National Library had worked with Auckland Libraries to digitise the Auckland Star and the New Zealand Herald, as well as some other smaller regional titles.

Papers Past is The National Library’s online collection of digitised historical newspapers, periodicals and documents. It provides full-text access to 144 newspapers and 25 periodical titles, the Donald McLean Papers, and the Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives (AJHRs), and covers the period from 1839 to 2017. With over 5 million pages available to search for free, Papers Past is one of the leading research resources in New Zealand.

For more information, please visit: paperspast.natlib.govt.nz