Newsletter 2013



The Hawke’s Bay ‘Knowledge Bank is believed to be New Zealand’s first purpose-built digital archive. It is purely a voluntary community effort planned to create a complete and ongoing history of Hawke’s Bay.

Tom Chamberlain has been the technical expert behind the design and implementation of a complete open- source solution for the technology required.

As a result, one early project that members are now working on is a digital Who’s Who in the history of this province. This biographical thread, going back in time and connecting with the future, uses metadata links to bring together elements of the province’s history.

Led by professional archivists, trained volunteers will record stories and narratives in a specially-created oral history story booth. In adjacent capture studios they will digitally record and index glass plates, old film from 8mm upward, photos and coloured slides. Special projects they undertake will concentrate on pictures and stories of events which have contributed to the province’s colourful history

The aim of the trust is a digital encyclopaedia of people and places, education, cultural, sporting, industrial and commercial achievements of yesterday linked with those of today. The material is being preserved for posterity, but will always be available to the public on a daily basis.

The digital material stored at the Knowledge Bank is being backed up and replicated around New Zealand using Ubuntu, VMWare and Veeam Technologies. No data leaves New Zealand’s shores. See the back of this brochure for a non-technical map of how the data travels throughout the country.

The Knowledge Bank headquarters are in the Stoneycroft homestead in Hastings. The building dates from 1875, when the Birch brothers bought thousands of acres in remote hill country toward Taihape and called their block Erewhon Station.

The volunteers at Stoneycroft need to be able to scan, type, itemise, record, cross-index, research, check and confirm a myriad of detail daily.

The work is to be done to international standards, in a manner which works as smoothly for children as it does for the students, their parents and the business people who refer to the record.

Among reasons the Knowledge Bank trustees – Dr David Barry, Peter Dunkerley, Angus Gordon, Heugh Chappell and James Morgan – opted for open-source software was to show that it could be used effectively as a long-lasting and unique public service while keeping costs to a minimum. The trustees also believe the project can provide a model for other regions in New Zealand.

In consulting Tom Chamberlain and Drupal specialist Chris Webb, the trustees and working team took into account streamlining and standardisation of procedures, consistency of training and operation for volunteers from all walks of life. Utilising open-source software allowed the trustees to keep to a budget which was also stretched by the vast costs of restoring the fabric of Stoneycroft Homestead.

Work began exactly one day after the Trust signed an 18-year lease with the Hastings District Council for the decrepit Stoneycroft. Throughout every working day from December 1 2011 there were up to 14 volunteers on the site. To date, unpaid hours exceed 4000. Refurbishment of the building to a grand style is almost complete, thanks in particular to the Eastern and Central Trust and the Ballantyne estate. Walls have been taken back to the original sarking, scrim has been repaired or replaced on every wall.

The refurbishing has won accolades from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

A repository established with donated compact shelving is to be named by the trustees as the Lily Baker Library in recognition of a nationally-regarded Hastings figure.

Within Stoneycroft, floors, walls and ceilings have provided concealed bi-ways for dedicated electrical circuits for computers, lighting and power points.

Seventy-two computer circuits have been concealed behind interior walls from a hub in the server room, upstairs and down and large screens have been provided as well as an initial 30 computers for both researchers and data input. Many thousands of dollars have been contributed by the RD9 Historical Trust along with large cheques by individual contributors.

Unison Fibre and FX networks have provided links to the building at 100mbs.

The Knowledge Bank is a non-profit community organisation reliant on your cash contributions. Find us online or at PO Box 2025, Stortford Lodge, Hastings 4153.

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