On 28 March 2019 the Chief Archivist revoked the authority to dispose of all records held by public offices that may be relevant to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse. The Chief Archivist has issued this notice to ensure that relevant records are protected and available for the purposes of the Inquiry. The notice will remain in force until the Chief Archivist revokes it.
As state and state integrated schools are subject to the Public Records Act 2005, the notice prevents the disposal of documents held by state and state integrated schools. It is important to ensure no records that could be required by the Royal Commission are inadvertently disposed of as a result of what would otherwise be prudent business practices.
Scope of the Inquiry
The Inquiry covers children in the care of the State, or faith-based institutions. This includes all schools including boarding or residential schools and health camp schools. The terms of reference for the Inquiry can be found here.
Although the primary period of inquiry is 1950 to 1999, the Royal Commission may also consider abuse and neglect that happened before 1950, or after 1999, including people who are in care now.
Scope of records
Judgement will need to be exercised as to which records the Chief Archivist’s notice applies to, however, the types of records would include specific student records, staff records, board minutes, investigations and complaints handling procedures, and school policy records.
The current Retention Disposal Schedule for schools is here.
Boards will have a process for authorising the discharge or destruction of records under the existing retention/disposal schedule. Following the notice from the Chief Archivist this process should take into account the notice from the Chief Archivist.
Many types of school records must be transferred to Archives New Zealand, typically after 25 years. That process will not change.
If you have questions about particular records at your school you should review the above link for the current School Records Retention and Disposal Schedule. Queries can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The link for the information that Archives is providing about this here.