An enthusiastic group of 70 archivists from all corners of New Zealand gathered March 9 – 12 at the Mercy Centre in Thorndon, Wellington, for their biennial conference.
The participants represented a wide background: 15 religious congregations; archives of the Dioceses of Auckland and Christchurch and the Archdiocese of Wellington; two parish archives; National Council of St Vincent de Paul; and 12 Catholic colleges.
Other invited archivists came from a wide background of organisations which included both the Presbyterian Church and a Presbyterian college; the Anglican Diocese and a primary school; the NZ Church Missionary Society; The Salvation Army; the Quakers; Wellington and Lower Hutt City Councils; National Council of Women; Vintage Car Club of New Zealand; NZ Defence Force; Te Rununga O Raukawa; Hutt Valley District Health Board; Southern Bays Historical Society; and four public libraries.
Following the registration and whakatau, Margaret O’Sullivan welcomed Dianne Macaskill, Chief Archivist, Archives NZ. Her opening address reiterated the benefits of working together and sharing of knowledge, as many of those present worked alone and faced huge workloads, often with few resources and inadequate facilities.
The convenor, Sr Stephanie Kitching, rsm, introduced Archbishop John Dew who officially opened the conference on Monday morning. He described his delight at finding information on his grandfather and stressed the phrase known to many of those present: Archives are the footprints of Christ.
Presentations given by experts in their field reflected the magnitude of the archivists’ challenges: Archives NZ’s standards for archival storage and access (Evelyn Wareham, Archives NZ); managing and planning archival storage (Sandra Falconer, Archives NZ); and serving the needs of both internal and external creators and users (Joanna Newman, Wellington City Archives). Sir Arthur G Doughty, a former Dominion Archivist of Canada, 1904-1935, was cited to much agreement: Of all national assets, archives are the most precious; they are the gift of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them marks the extent of our civilisation.
Over Monday and Tuesday participants were offered a wide ranging selection of inter-active workshops from local experts. These covered managing photos, maps and objects; oral history; disaster preparedness; using PastPerfect and other archival databases; digital preservation; the care of historic church textiles; the care of art works; setting up a school archive; tips for looking after community archives; and appraisal and disposal of archives.
Members of Challenge 2000 provided entertainment at the Monday evening dinner with much humour, polished singing and a challenging quiz. The plenary session was led by Sr Catherine Shelton, rsj, and two off-site visits were well attended at Te Papa Archives and the Film Archive.
It is hoped that the next conference will be held in a few years, possibly in Wellington with its central location and state archival amenities.
Local archivists may be interested in the Wellington Sole Archivists’ Group which meets monthly at the Mercy Centre, Thorndon. Contact Ken Scadden firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (04) 471 0600 (office hours).
Pictures: top: sharing wisdom before dinner
lower: The organising committee for the Catholic Archivists’ Conference: Back: Ken Scadden, Jocelyn Butcher, Sr Josephine Gorman dolc, Sr Therese Galvin rndm, Margaret O’Sullivan, Sr Veronica McManus rsm, Sr Mary de Porres rsm
Front: Sr Barbara Gibbs lsa, Sr Stephanie Kitching rsm, Sr Helen Doyle rsj
Absent: Br Gerard Hogg sm