John Key’s National government has, in its infinite wisdom, decided to subsume Archives New Zealand and the National Library within the Department of Internal Affairs. With typical ideological one-eyedness that necessitates a blithe disregard for constitutional values, the merger is likely to have some fairly dire consequences for anyone who considers it important that a society keep thorough records of the actions of its Government.
Minister responsible for Archives NZ Nathan Guy sayes it will all be synergies and efficiencies, and he promises the “integrity of the Chief Archivist, National Librarian and Chief Librarian would be preserved”. But according to at least one expert in the field Dr Julienne Molineaux, the move will downgrade the abilities of the Chief Archivist to insist Government departments keep (and not destroy) records that should be archived. The economic benefits achieved from the economies of scale the merger will permit are considerably outweighed by the losses to our public memory and long-term accountability of our Government agencies.
I can fully understand why National might not want comprehensive records of what it has and will be doing in the coming years, especially considering their penchant for retrograde 80s neo-liberal policies. Without a proper history of our past mistakes we will, as the saying goes, be condemned to repeat them.