6 Dec 2016

Push to centralise NZ's audio and video archives in Wellington

8:56 pm on 6 December 2016

Decades of knowledge will be lost if plans to centralise New Zealand's audio and video archives go ahead, says the union for public service workers.

The Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision building on Taranaki Street in Wellington.

The Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision archives building on Taranaki St in Wellington Photo: WikiCommons

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is proposing to move its operations in Auckland and Christchurch to its sites in the Hutt Valley and Wellington.

The archive, originally set up as the New Zealand Film Archive, incorporated the RNZ sound archive in 2012 and the TVNZ archive in 2014.

It currently employs about 80 people across Wellington, Lower Hutt, Christchurch and Auckland.

Public Service Association national secretary Erin Polaczcuk said the proposed restructure could lead to job losses and a significant loss of specialist knowledge.

She said Christchurch members had unanimously spoken out against the proposal, and staff felt disrespected and ignored after their work to recover archives in the wake of the city's earthquakes.

"This is the third round of restructuring in the four years since the film and sound archives merged, and the impact on staff can't be underestimated.

"We call on the board of trustees and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to urgently reconsider this proposal."

Ngā Taonga said it had only just completed several weeks of consulting with staff on the proposed restructure, and no decision had been made.

It said, after incorporating the RNZ and TVNZ archives, it needed to change to ensure it was sustainable and more of the income it received went into collecting, preserving and sharing audiovisual material. It needed to make sure its people and collections were safe, it said.

The facilites in Christchurch for staff and sound collection were "temporary and makeshift since the 2011 earthquake" and, while staff had done a "good job in less than ideal conditions", the collection needed to be in a purpose-built climate-controlled vault.

It had been unable to find a suitable and affordable option there, but its facilities in the Lower Hutt suburb of Avalon had the capacity to house it.

"These are built to a high standard of earthquake and flood resilience."

As for its Auckland operations, it said there were only two permanent staff, who were in back-office roles, and there were no permanent collections there.

Under the proposals, the employees in Auckland and Christchurch would be offered the chance to relocate and supported if they chose to make the move.

A decision would be made late this week and any changes would not take place until after March next year.

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