Plan sought to record history
by Lawrence Gullery
In a world where there is a strategy for everything, there appears to be no plan on how best Hawke’s Bay should record its social and legal history.
It comes after the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council turned down a request from the Hawke’s Bay Community Foundation for $500,000 to help set up a digital archive at Stoneycroft Homestead in Hastings.
The council considered the digital archive at its ﬁrst meeting of the year on Wednesday.
Some councillors felt digitally recording Hawke’s Bay’s historic records was a job already being undertaken by the Hawke’s Bay Cultural Trust in Napier and handing over more money to the foundation would effectively duplicate the work.
Others argued the digital archive was to preserve social history, such as family trees, personal recollections, stories and photos, whereas the trust’s work was narrowed to such records as legal documents.
Councillor Eileen von Dadelszen said she was an amateur historian and genealogist and was worried Hawke’s Bay’s social history was not being recorded for future generations to understand. “When people ask about Art Deco, they want to know what it was like and what people were like during that period. We have some history books but they are just dry facts and records.
“The digital archive was put forward to give people the option of bringing forward their family records so they can be digitally recorded and retained by the family or whoever wants it,” she said. Councillor Liz Rimmerswaal said it appeared the foundation and trust needed to meet to see how they could work on a digital archive together.
Most councillors agreed the two organisations should meet and were alarmed to discover the region did not have a strategy to store its history on a digital archive.
Regional council’s group manager Liz Lambert, in her report, had set aside $30,000 to prepare a regional archives strategy.
But councillor Tim Gilbertson said he couldn’t justify spending a large sum of money for “someone to write a strategy” when the council could “get a strategy from somewhere else”.
The council’s chief executive Andrew Newman agreed it was worth looking at what other regions had in terms of digitally storing history.
And the council agreed it should still spend $30,000 on a strategy but work on the plan should include the trust, the foundation, as well as other councils and groups.
The digital archive was headed by former Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune editor James Morgan, from the foundation. He had last year spoken to the regional council about the project to digitally preserve the region’s oral and pictorial history. The project would be housed in Stoneycroft, an historic building on the outskirts of Hastings.
It had been made available for the project by its owner Hastings District Council.