In response to the Book Guardians’ disappointing visit on 24 March 2021 to see Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti, Book Guardians Advisory Member Nelson Wattie wrote to the Minister pointing out the international reputational damage being done to New Zealand by this action.
Dr Wattie’s letter is reproduced below. We await with interest to see the Minister’s response.
Dear Minister Tinetti,
I am alarmed to hear that the delegation from the Book Guardians Aotearoa, who were hoping to draw your attention to the pending disposal of a large treasure (600,000 valuable books), currently in the ownership of the people of New Zealand, failed to meet with an adequate response.
This matter, which has already been discussed widely in national and international media and threatens to damage the reputation of New Zealand as a member of the international community, has not yet been discussed with qualified consultants but has been left to the clearly inadequate decision-makers in our National Library.
Thousands of the books are the work of world-renowned scholars, scientists and writers. Their presence in our (the nation’s) collections is both practical and reputational. New Zealand scholarship might become provincial and out of touch with the broader world community if such drastic steps are taken and the reputation of New Zealand as a member of a civilized world may also be harmed.
Nelson Wattie, M.A.(VUW), Dr.phil.(Wuppertal)
Dr. Nelson Wattie
Translator, writer, editor
Co-editor of The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature; revising editor of The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand English.
Formerly New Zealand’s representative to PEN International.