What we stand for:

Ngā Kaitiaki o ngā Pukapuka/Book Guardians Aotearoa


To ensure that the purpose of the National Library Act 2003 “to enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations” is achieved now and into the future, Ngā Kaitiaki o ngā Pukapuka/Book Guardians Aotearoa hold that the following changes to current practice need to be made.

  1. The National Library must become a standalone entity outside the Department of Internal Affairs. The 2017 Labour Party election manifesto promised that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) would be reconstituted as standalone entities outside the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and would report separately to Parliament. Book Guardians Aotearoa (BGA) supports this policy and wants the Labour government 2020-2023 to make good on its 2017 promise.
  1. The National Library must be properly funded. DIA’s unfulfilled promises for Archives and National Library are well documented. Ever since the National Library was put into the DIA it has been subjected to a sinking lid on its funding. This has led to under-staffing and a reduction in services. Returning the NLNZ to standalone status must also include proper funding for it to achieve all its public interest purposes.
  1. The National Library must be better managed. Since the DIA took over managing the NLNZ in 2010 it has not managed it well. As well as reducing its funding it has downgraded the status and skill levels of senior librarians. Culturally the NLNZ has more in common with Te Papa – a container of taonga and a taonga in itself – than it has with the miscellany of non-cultural matters overseen by the DIA. The calibre of its management must reflect its importance.
  1. The National Library must manage its book collections better. Throwing out a collection of over 600,000 books – most of the books in the NLNZ, and most of them selected with skill and care by previous librarians to meet the knowledge needs of New Zealanders – does not constitute good library management. This is not a normal or acceptable de-accessioning process, which all libraries must do. It is the destruction of New Zealand’s knowledge base, which is used every day by the creators of new knowledge for Aotearoa. If the currently under-funded NLNZ needs help with identifying which books must stay and which can go then BGA is willing and able to provide subject experts who can assist with this process until standalone status and proper funding is achieved.
  1. The National Librarian must be suitably qualified. The statutory role of the National Librarian must be strengthened by the qualifications of that person including activity relevant to running a library of national importance, thereby ruling out ‘leadership’ from generic managers.
  1. The National Library must appoint a specialist Mātauranga Māori librarian. The NLNZ and the government must stop paying lip service in official documents to supporting and fostering Mātauranga Māori and actually do something to make it happen. Appoint (and properly fund) a specialist Mātauranga Māori librarian fluent in te reo as well as English and able to collect and curate a Mātauranga Māori collection accessible to the general public. This collection must include both locally published materials and a world class collection of overseas published books and other documents (in te reo, English and other languages) which deal with Māori-related subjects.
  1. The statutory guardianship committee of the National Library must be appointed by Parliament rather than by the Government. Currently the members are appointed by the minister on the recommendation of DIA officials, who have little interest in independent guardians. The committee should work for the public interest, not the convenience of officials, so should be appointed by and responsible to Parliament.