Cultural Collections guidelines

The collection guidelines support management of our Cultural Collections

person looking at art in art gallery, abstract blurry image


These guidelines relate to collections managed by the Cultural Collections team within Te Tumu Herenga, Libraries and Learning Services at the University of Auckland. They detail collection scope and context, collection development, acquisition and deaccession.

Cultural Collections oversees the stewardship, management and access of collections of archives and other collections that include documents, audio-visual materials, manuscripts, rare and unique published collections, and artworks cared for by Te Tumu Herenga | Libraries and Learning Services.

These guidelines complement the following University and Te Tumu Herenga guidelines:

Composition and context of Cultural Collections holdings

Cultural Collections was established in 2018, through the consolidation of four teams caring for rare and unique material spanning the arts, humanities, sciences, creative industries and more. These teams are:

  • The Archive of Māori and Pacific Sound
  • Media Services
  • Special Collections
  • University of Auckland Art Collection

The individual teams have a long history of holding unique, rare and significant collections of artworks, published works, manuscripts and archives, and audio and visual media.

Guidelines pertinent to the University of Auckland Art Collection are detailed elsewhere (see links within the Introduction).  

Alignment with University of Auckland vision and strategy

Cultural Collections seeks to preserve, manage and develop its collections in line with the University’s purpose and values detailed within Taumata Teitei – Vision 2030 and Strategic Plan 2025. Notably, Cultural Collections commits to:

  • Recognising and upholding the University’s relationship with tangata whenua and our commitment to Te Tiriti
  • Serving our communities through preservation, curation and providing access to resources held in Cultural Collections
  • Enabling opportunities for communities we serve to contribute knowledge and understanding of the materials under the care of Cultural Collections
  • Within the boundaries of any access restrictions and cultural considerations, enabling collections to be accessible for and discoverable by all individuals and groups, regardless of their affiliation with the University of Auckland.
  • Upholding principles of access, equity and inclusion

Scope of existing Cultural Collections

Archive of Māori and Pacific Sound (AMPS)

AMPS holdings predominantly contain commercial, broadcast and field recordings from the breadth of Aotearoa and Pacific nations. Approximately 15% of the collection are materials from other indigenous communities:

  • Aotearoa
    • Significant holdings of te reo Māori content
    • Comprehensive archive of song, vocal and instrumental music, dance, oral histories, stories, speeches, chant, hymns and prayer.
    • Teaching resources including lectures by prominent Māori academics, and te reo Māori language learning resources.
  • Pacific Nations 
    • Significant holdings from Pacific nations
    • Comprehensive archive of Pacific recordings of song, vocal and instrumental music, dance, oral histories, stories and legends, speeches, chants, hymns and prayer.
  • Other indigenous communities
    • Vocal and instrumental music
    • Oral histories, stories and language resources

Media Services

Media Services holdings contain both broadcast and primary source research content and can be categorised into four main collection areas:

  • Broadcast Collection: Chapman Archive
    • New Zealand and international news and current affairs
    • New Zealand and international politics
    • Coverage of significant national and international events
  • Broadcast Collection: Māori and Pacific collections
    • Significant holdings of te reo Māori content
    • Comprehensive archive of Māori Television programming
    • Significant archive of long-running Māori news and documentary shows from TVNZ
    • Growing Pacific content collections
  • Broadcast Collection: teaching, learning and research collections
    • New Zealand and international films and documentaries
    • New Zealand fictional series and selected ‘reality’ content
    • Other content of historical, cultural or broadcast significance
  • Primary source research content
    • University recordings/public lectures
    • Audiovisual resources from academic research or personal archives

Special Collections

  • Published Collections: sixteen general and named collections containing more than 40,000 rare books, pamphlets, journals, music scores, artist’s books, audiovisual material and more. The works span all disciplines and subjects and were published between the 15th century and the present day. Material relating to Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific is a core strength across several collections.
  • Manuscripts and Archives: the Manuscripts and Archives collection has its origin in the gift of the papers of Sir George Fowlds in 1939. Collection strengths include the British colonial administration of the Western Pacific from 1877-1978 (the Western Pacific Archives), personal papers of academics and individuals associated with the University, records of student organisations, Fine Arts holdings such as artist ephemera, literary manuscripts with a focus on Auckland writers, and the records of many Auckland trade unions, political organisations and activist groups.
  • Architecture Archive: this is the primary collecting repository of architectural records in the upper North Island. Collections are primarily comprised of the drawings and associated architectural records of many prominent architects, particularly for the Auckland region. Another strength of the collection is the history of the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning, including papers of prominent academics.

Acquisition and collection development

Our collecting priorities are to maintain and develop collections which:

  • Foster research, learning, teaching and creative endeavours
  • Strongly represent Aotearoa New Zealand’s Māori and Pacific languages, heritage and context
  • Relate to Aotearoa New Zealand, with priority given to Auckland/Northland communities
  • Contribute to the institutional memory of the University and its communities
  • Build on existing collection strengths of individual repositories
  • Reflect significant impacts of University of Auckland research contributions and the diversity of the University research community
  • Reflect the diversity and inclusivity of University of Auckland communities

Cultural Collections recognises that there are gaps in its existing collections and seeks to strategically fill these gaps to ensure the collections deliver upon the University's purpose and values. To this end, Cultural Collections Manager and Team Leaders will determine pro-active collecting priorities. These collecting priorities will be published on the Te Tumu Herenga | Libraries and Learning Services website and will be reviewed biannually, or annually, if required.

Future acquisitions can be sourced through gifts, donations, purchases, bequests or transfers from within the University, providing that an assessment of the acquisition is undertaken and it is agreed that acquisition guidelines and terms and conditions are satisfactorily met.

While Cultural Collections will consider most potential donations, Cultural Collections will only accept the following materials under extraordinary circumstances:

  • Facsimiles of items held in other collections or items available elsewhere
  • Items outside the scope of these collection guidelines
  • Items that come with significant access restrictions
  • Items that are in inaccessible formats
  • Items that fall within the collecting priorities of other institutions

Terms and conditions relating to new acquisitions

Acquisition recommendations will be made, by a Cultural Collections Team Leader, through the Cultural Collections Acquisition Proposal form, as appropriate. Selection criteria specifically applicable to Cultural Collections will include but not be limited to:

  • Enduring value: evidential, informational, cultural significance
  • Cost of retention: processing, storage, preservation, technical support
  • Format appropriateness
  • Consideration of copyright and fair use

To support evaluation of the suitability of the item/collection for accession, Cultural Collections will:

  • Request an inventory detailing the scope and depth of the materials
  • Seek clarity about intellectual property rights and access arrangements with regards to all acquisitions
  • Document information about the copyright, data protection, privacy and freedom of information implications of potential acquisition
  • Agree with the donor the transfer terms and conditions, including ownership and custodial rights, and record these within acceptance of gift, or donation documentation
  • Reserve the right to reject items/collections where there is a lack of clarity over ownership and/or rights issues
  • Avoid collecting that conflicts with other repositories and, where possible, avoid the potential of splitting archival collections across institutions

Items with identified conservation problems such as mould, chemical contamination or insect infestation, which threaten the preservation of the existing collection or the health of staff, will not be accepted by Cultural Collections until those problems are remedied, or a suitable plan and appropriate funding is made available for the materials to be conserved.

In general, Cultural Collections will not accept items on long-term loan.
Exceptions to this will be considered by the leadership team and include, but are not limited to, any Indigenous knowledge that is considered secret or sacred and/or material pertaining to tangata whenua which is provided to Cultural Collections for ongoing care and research purposes. 

Monetary endowments and bequests are beneficial for the growth, quality and preservation of collections in Cultural Collections. Cultural Collections will work closely with the Alumni Relationship Development department as soon as any bequest or endowment is offered. 

Deaccession and Disposal

Materials cared for within Cultural Collections are accepted with the intention that they will be preserved, and made available, in perpetuity. There will be a strong professional caution against the disposal of materials from the collection, and deaccessioning will only be undertaken with great care. Deaccession recommendations will be made by a Cultural Collections Team Leader, through the Cultural Collections Deaccession Proposal form. Deaccessioning will only be considered in order to strengthen the quality of the collection and advance its objectives and may be considered in the case of:

  • Damage beyond reasonable repair
  • Loss or theft
  • Materials requested and approved by the Cultural Collections leadership team, for repatriation

The Cultural Collections leadership group will review all materials recommended for deaccessioning and decline or endorse, as appropriate. If the recommendation for deaccession is approved, Cultural Collections will endeavour to contact the donor, creator, estate or copyright holder and the items will be offered for return. If this offer is not accepted, items may be disposed of as deemed appropriate.