Keeping The Memory Of The World

UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. Impetus came originally from a growing awareness of the parlous state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world. UNESCO website


How New Zealand is involved

By Roger Childs

Kapiti Friends of the Library have invited Dianne McCaskill who is the Chair of the New Zealand Memory of the World Programme to speak about the programme and how the New  Zealand register

Dianne McCaskill

of documents is being developed.

  • On Sunday 20 August at 2:30
  • In the Paraparaumu Library Meeting Room.

The New Zealand heritage preserved

Three of New Zealand’s documentary heritage items are already inscribed on UNESCO Memory of the World registers.

They are now housed in the National Library in Wellington.

~ The 1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand,

 ~ The 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi

~ The 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, were moved from Archives New Zealand to He Tohu, last month.

The World-wide importance of the project

UNESCO has recognised the need to preserve the world’s documentary heritage because of the dangers of iconic material being lost.

War and social upheaval, as well as severe lack of resources, have worsened problems which have existed for centuries. Significant collections worldwide have suffered a variety of fates. Looting and dispersal, illegal trading, destruction, inadequate housing and funding have all played a part. Much as vanished forever; much is endangered.  Memory of the World website

A recent example of the dangers of losing irreplaceable documents was in Timbuktu is 2012. The successful salvage is told in the  The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer.

Miracle in Timbuktu

In former Kapiti Library Manager, Leslie Clague’s, words:  The book is about the 2012 Tuareg tribe rebellion in northern Mali. Aided by Al Qaeda, the Tuaregs invade the city, bringing terror and mayhem.

It tells the extraordinary story of removal of some 377,000 ancient manuscripts from the city to protect these treasures from destruction to protect these treasures from destruction.