National Library of New Zealand

National Library of New Zealand
National Library of New Zealand
Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
National library wellington.jpg
Established 1965
Location Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand
41°16′36″S 174°46′42″E / 41.276614°S 174.778372°E / -41.276614; 174.778372
Branches n/a
Size 1,515,172 in General Collections
5,333,500 in Alexander Turnbull Library
Other information
Budget NZ$51,850,000[1]
Director Bill MacNaught (National Librarian)

The National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa in Maori) is New Zealand's legal deposit library charged with the obligation to "enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations" (National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga) Act 2003). Under the Act, the library is also expected to be:

  • "collecting, preserving, and protecting documents, particularly those relating to New Zealand, and making them accessible for all the people of New Zealand, in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga; and
  • "supplementing and furthering the work of other libraries in New Zealand; and
  • "working collaboratively with other institutions having similar purposes, including those forming part of the international library community."

It is said to be unique, as unlike many other national libraries it is an autonomous government department. The library also has links to primary and secondary schools through its School Services business unit, which has 15 service centres and three Curriculum Information Service branches around New Zealand. The Legal Deposit Office is also New Zealand's agency for ISBN and ISSN.

The library headquarters is close to the New Zealand Parliament and the Court of Appeal on the corner of Aitken and Molesworth Streets, Wellington. The current Minister Responsible for the National Library is Nathan Guy.

On 25 March 2010 the Minister of State Services announced that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand would be merged into the Department of Internal Affairs.[2]



The National Library of New Zealand was formed in 1965 when the Alexander Turnbull Library, the General Assembly, and the National Library Service were brought together by the National Library Act (1965). In 1980, the Archive of New Zealand Music was established at the suggestion of New Zealand composer, Douglas Lilburn. In 1985, the General Assembly Library separated from the National Library and is now known as The Parliamentary Library. Staff and collections from 14 different sites around Wellington were centralised in a new National Library building, officially opened in August 1987. The architecture of the building is said to have been heavily influenced by design of the Boston City Hall.[3]

In 1988, the National Library became an autonomous government department where previously it had been administered by the Department of Education. The same year, the Library took on the Maori name Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, which translated means: the wellspring of knowledge, of New Zealand.

In early 1998 an ambitious 8.5 million dollar computer project was scrapped.[4]

On 25 March 2010 the Minister of State Services announced that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand would be merged into the Department of Internal Affairs.[5]

Reading room


The National Library's collections are stored in many parts of the National Library building in Wellington, and in several other locations throughout New Zealand.

The National Library divides its collections into three main groups: the National Library General Collections, the National Library Schools Collection, and the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library. The National Library General Collections focus on supporting the information needs of New Zealanders through services to individuals, schools and researchers, with notable collections such as the Dorothy Neal White Collection. The National Library Schools Collection contains fiction and non-fiction books, videos and DVDs to support teaching and learning in New Zealand schools. Access to many collections is provided through digital products and online resources.

Alexander Turnbull Library

The collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library are in the custody of the National Library[6] and are normally held in its Wellington building. It is named after Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull (1868–1918), whose bequest to the nation included the 55,000 volume nucleus of the current collection. It is charged under the Act to:

  • 'Preserve, protect, develop, and make accessible for all the people of New Zealand the collections of that library in perpetuity and in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga'; and
  • 'Develop the research collections and the services of the Alexander Turnbull Library, particularly in the fields of New Zealand and Pacific studies and rare books'; and
  • 'Develop and maintain a comprehensive collection of documents relating to New Zealand and the people of New Zealand.'[7]

Turnbull collected the works of John Milton extensively, and the library now has holdings of Milton's works which are "ranked among the finest in the world" and "good collections of seventeenth-century poetical miscellanies and of Dryden material, ... along with fine sets of literary periodicals."[8]

The Alexander Turnbull Library's former site at Turnbull House in Bowen Street in downtown Wellington is now run by the Department of Conservation.

National Digital Heritage Archive

Established in 2004 the NDHA is a partnership between the National Library of New Zealand, Ex Libris and Sun Microsystems to develop a digital archive and preservation management system.[9]

A digital storehouse, the system ensures that websites, digital images, CDs, DVDs and other 'digitally born' and digitised items that make up the Library's growing digital heritage collections will, despite technical obsolescence, be preserved and remain accessible to researchers, students and library users now and in the future.

Building upgrade

The National Library building was to have been extensively rebuilt 2009–2011,[10][11] but the incoming government has greatly scaled down the scope of the work, reducing the budget for it and delaying the commencement, arguing concerns about the cost of the project and the reduction in the accessibility of collections and facilities during the construction work.[12]


External links

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