The digitisation of New Zealand’s research, heritage and culture

Author: Stanger, Nigel

Date: 2010-09-15

Publisher: New Zealand Computer Society

Type: Book item

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University of Otago


Over the last 25 years, it has become possible to digitise and store an ever-increasing amount and variety of material. New Zealand has been one of the leaders in this area, with early initiatives such as the New Zealand Digital Library in the mid 1990s and the more recent Digital Content Strategy ( promoting the idea of digitising New Zealand’s research, heritage and culture and making it available online. The government is committed to ensuring “New Zealand will be a world leader in using information and technology to realise its economic, environmental, social and cultural goals” (New Zealand Government, 2005, p. 4). They see New Zealanders as world leaders in using information and technology to build globally connected science and technology research communities. A key benefit of digitising research, cultural and heritage material is improved accessibility. It can be difficult and laborious to find specific items in traditional “hard copy” collections, whereas digital collections can be quickly and easily searched. They can also be made available via the Internet to a much larger audience than was previously possible. Digitisation also removes the access bottleneck arising from there being few physical copies of an item, as many people can access the same digital item simultaneously. Finally, digitisation helps us to preserve fragile historical material by reducing the need for physical access, and hence the likelihood of further physical damage or even loss. The need to store and manage digital collections of this nature has driven the development of digital libraries and repositories of various kinds, including the already mentioned New Zealand Digital Library. More recently, the launch of the government’s Digital Strategy in 2005 resulted in a nationwide proliferation of digital research repositories at New Zealand tertiary institutions, and ultimately led to the development of the Kiwi Research Information Service (KRIS) by the National Library of New Zealand. These developments have made New Zealand’s research readily available to the wider world. The same technologies used to build these institutional research repositories are also now being applied in non-academic areas. In 2006, the Cardrona Online Museum was launched, with the aim of storing and making available heritage materials relating to the Cardrona district. The launch attracted strong interest and has led into an ongoing project to develop a similar repository for the Central Otago region. In parallel, the Horowhenua Library Trust and Katipo Communications, Ltd., developed the Kete software to facilitate online community collaboration, and recently, the National Library began to harvest and index content from New Zealand Web sites for its DigitalNZ project. In this chapter, we will examine these developments, their impact on the dissemination of New Zealand’s research, heritage and culture, and look forward to future developments in this area.

Subjects: D History (General), D111 Medieval History, QA76 Computer software, DU Oceania (South Seas), Dunedin School of Medicine, General Practice , Medical and Surgical Sciences , Pathology , Preventive & Social Medicine , Psychological Medicine , Women’s and Children’s Health 

Citation: ["Stanger, N. (2010). The digitisation of New Zealand’s research, heritage and culture. In Return to Tomorrow: 50 Years of Computing in New Zealand (pp. 139–156). New Zealand Computer Society."]

Copyright: This is a postprint of the paper (i.e., author's final draft after refereeing) and may therefore differ somewhat from the final published version in appearance and formatting.