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New Zealand's chief archivist has written to the Dunedin City Council chief executive over risks to sensitive property records held in a basement near water and sewerage pipes.
The Otago-Southland branch of the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ) has long highlighted such problems, and made an April submission to the council planning process regarding them.
However, the draft 10-year plan does not fund moving the records from the Dunedin Civic Centre basement to safety.
In an Otago Daily Times story in 2019, council community services general manager Simon Pickford acknowledged that Archives New Zealand had issued a directive in 2014 that required archives to be "located as far as possible from natural and man-made hazards".
Peter Miller, an ARANZ branch committee member, said the branch had been frustrated, and he hoped that chief archivist Stephen Clarke’s letter to chief executive Sandy Graham would bring change.
Mr Clarke was supporting the submission by ARANZ, which had "highlighted the risk of loss or damage to archival material" from potential leaks or floods.
The council did not comply with the "Information and records management standard" issued under the Public Records Act, and such records were "key strategic assets at the core of public business and government accountability".
It could be useful for the council to follow the lead of the Manawatu-Whanganui Local Authority Shared Services Archives Central, which provided storage for protected local government records for nine councils in the area, he said.
Mr Pickford said yesterday the council signed a contract with an external storage facility in 2020 and subsequently moved some documents there.
This freed up space in the council archives, allowing more sensitive files to be moved to the archives’ strong room, for added security.
One of the larger archive rooms had also been renovated, and council records were being relocated to this room.
The council was also "exploring repurposing existing space within other DCC facilities" for storage, he said.